Savannah Marshall insists she will not be intimidated ahead of her showdown with American rival Claressa Shields for the undisputed world middleweight championship on September 10, live on Sky Sports.
After two days of media events to promote the historic all-women’s boxing bill at the O2 that their fight headlines, Marshall has spent plenty of time in her opponent’s company.
The Briton maintains she has shrugged off the war of words. “It’s comical, it’s the same thing with her, it’s nothing new. I thought she might have had better craic,” Marshall said. “But she never, it’s just the same. She’s quite predictable.
“I’m comfortable in Claressa’s presence. She doesn’t scare me.”
A significant 2012 amateur win makes Marshall the only boxer to have beaten Shields. The long-running feud has festered between them since then. Today both are unbeaten professionals and between them hold all four of the major middleweight titles.
The Briton is convinced she has the tools to repeat a victory over Shields. “I’ve seen how she boxes other girls. She’s a bully. That is what she is. She’s a bully, simple as that,” Marshall said.
“I think I’m a lot smarter than Claressa and I always have been and that’s what will win me the fight. It’s her ignorance that will lose her this fight,” she added.
“She might not say she respects me but I know deep, deep down a little bit of her does. Because she won’t admit it to herself, that is what will lose her this fight.”
The rivalry between the two is intensely personal. But promoter Ben Shalom can take in the bigger picture. He sees it as a milestone in British and international boxing.
“It’s been something that we’ve been planning for 12 months. We’ve worked with both fighters. We’ve seen Savannah go from middle of the cards to headlining shows to selling out arenas. I don’t think she was ready for this 12 months ago. I feel like she’s more than ready now,” Shalom told Sky Sports.
“They’re both in their prime. We’ve worked with Claressa as well, who’s so inspirational, what she’s had to go through to get and fight for her position.
“There just were no opportunities when they started boxing and they’ve created them themselves. For it to culminate in this and to have that healthy rivalry that has run throughout their careers, it’s got everything.
“I think it’s the first time in the women’s sport where we’ve got a fight that really feels like it’s got everything. Where it’s the US-UK, the personalities, the ying and the yang, the boxing styles, it’s incredible and I really think it’s going to be a monumental moment for the sport.
“These two are superstars and this fight is a fight that everyone wanted to see, so I think women’s boxing is still growing but I think it’s fights like this, a story like this will take it to a new sphere and that’s what I’m very, very confident of.”
He believes an event like this can reach a whole new audience in addition to traditional boxing circles.
“Boxing’s always been seen as a little intimidating, a little closed off. Maybe it’s stopped it growing in the way it can do. For business reasons we could have put this on [pay-per-view on] Box Office and probably made a lot of money. But for the sport this serves better to a massive audience because I think it’s going to have a lasting effect of the sport,” Shalom said.
“We will see a new audience. We will see women becoming interested in the sport. That’s why we did an all-women’s card.”
An excellent super-featherweight world title unification, Mikaela Mayer vs Alycia Baumgardner will also feature on the undercard. “It’s not just one or two slots on the card. We’ve got now the talent [in women’s boxing] that fill up [the bill] from top to bottom,” Shalom said.
“That’s incredible and that just shows how far it’s come.”
The Shields-Marshall rivalry might even keep on running afterwards.
“With all major fights there can always be a rematch, there can always be a trilogy but I think both fighters are so focused on September 10,” Shalom said. “This is a massive moment for Claressa to avenge her loss. Savannah Marshall believes this is her calling, this is what she’s been waiting for.
“It’s going to be a major moment for British sport.”