Fight Picks: Claressa Shields vs. Savannah Marshall
On Saturday, Ring, IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight titleholder Claressa Shields will finally face WBO counterpart Savannah Marshall in an undisputed title clash at the O2 Arena in London.
The highly anticipated showdown, which was delayed five weeks due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, will be broadcast on ESPN, beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET/ 11:00 a.m. PT and on Sky Sports in the U.K. at 7 p.m. GMT.
Shields, who is rated No. 2 on the mythical pound-for-pound list, was a 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist. She turned professional beating current Ring super middleweight champion Franchón Crews-Dezurn (UD 4) and claimed IBF-WBC 168-pound titles in her fourth fight against Nikki Adler (TKO 5).
In her sixth fight, Shields dropped to middleweight and picked up the IBF and WBA titles from Hanna Gabriels (UD 10). After two defenses the Michigan resident added The Ring and WBO titles by besting Christina Hammer (UD 10).
Shields decided to drop to junior middleweight and became undisputed champion before moving back up to middleweight and winning a lopsided decision against Ema Kozin (UD 10).
Marshall, who is rated No. 1, was also an amateur standout and took gold at the 2012 World Championships. The 31-year-old Brit won the WBO title in her ninth professional fight by stopping Hannah Rankin (TKO 7) and has won all three title defenses inside three rounds.
Shields (12-0, 2 KOs) is blessed with excellent technical skills, while Marshall (12-0, 10 KOs) is naturally bigger and possibly stronger. Can Shields stick to her boxing,or will Marshall be able to make it a fight? Will fighting away from home effect Shields or bring Marshall up a level? Marshall defeated Shields in the amateur ranks. Will that play a part?
Online gambling group William Hill list both fighters at 10/11 (-110) and the draw is 14/1 (+1400).
Here’s how the experts see it:
THE RING MAGAZINE/RINGTV.COM
TOM GRAY: SHIELDS UD 10
“My original pick was Marshall by stoppage, however, the five-week delay gave me a lot of time to change my mind. I think Shields is cute enough to survive a rough patch and prevail on points.”
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: SHIELDS UD
“Interesting matchup. Shields skills versus Marshall’s power. The fact that the fight takes place in England will add another layer of intrigue. I do favor Shields to use those skills and wins a competitive fight by hard fought but just unanimous decision.”
LEE GROVES: MARSHALL UD
“A lot of factors tip the scales in Marshall’s favor: Height, reach, home ring advantage, the confidence gained from having been the only person ever to beat Shields in a boxing ring (albeit a decade ago), and especially shot-for-shot power. That said, Shields most obvious advantage is her far superior quality of opposition, and she showed against Hannah Gabriels that she can bounce back from an early knockdown to dominate a contest. She also proved against Christina Hammer that she can handle someone with similar height and reach as Marshall. But Shields did that before an extremely supportive home state crowd in Detroit, and here she will be operating within a very hostile environment. Because of the weight of the occasion and Shields’ physical and mental toughness as well as skill level, I’m picking Marshall to win on points, but don’t be too shocked if Marshall wins by TKO.”
MICHAEL MONTERO: SHIELDS SD
“I believe many fans are overlooking a major factor in the main event. While it’s true that Savannah Marshall defeated Claressa Shields in the amateurs, the American was only 17 years-old and quite inexperienced at the time. Things have changed considerably since then. When comparing their professional resumes, it’s clear that Shields has faced much better opposition. She is a much-improved fighter. For that reason, I like Shields to edge this fight on the cards and win a split decision.”
NORM FRAUENHEIM: SHIELDS UD
“Savannah Marshall knows all about Shields punching power. She mocks it. She endured it as an amateur in a 2012 victory over Shields. But she can’t beat it. Shields’ power will prevail, hurting her often enough to keep her from scoring enough to prevail on the cards.”
TOM GERBASI: SHIELDS UD
“Marshall is big, she can bang and she can fight. But I’ve seen Shields make good fighters look like they don’t belong in the ring with her, so I can’t pick against her. The furthest I’ll go is to say that this will be a dogfight for 10 rounds, but that Shields is a step ahead all night and takes the unanimous decision win.”
DIEGO MORILLA: SHIELDS KO 9
“It is hard in today’s boxing landscape to find someone with the drive, the ambition, the dedication and the talent that T-Rex has shown so far in her career. Those virtues alone make her the overwhelming favorite in this fight, but the fact that Marshall remains a thorn on her side and that she is the last remaining roadblock towards all-time greatness will be the defining factor in this fight. Much has been said about Marshall’s power, which is there, as well as her athleticism and boxing ability. But even at her best she’s evenly matched with Shields in all of those departments, and Claressa’s motivation will be more than enough to tilt the scales in her favor. A war of attrition while it lasts, a final push towards the end, and as soon as Shields sees blood on the water it will be all over.”
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): SHIELDS MD
“In what looks like a 50-50 fight, this is the cream of the crop where women’s boxing is concerned. I pick Shields to win via a majority points decision.”
BARRY MCGUIGAN (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION): MARSHALL
“Claressa Shields has more skill than Savannah Marshall so Shields might get into a handy lead. However, Marshall will start to connect as the rounds go on when she works it out that you beat someone that’s faster than you by punching with them. Shields who’s been dropped before may find herself on the seat of her pants and might even get stopped as Savannah overhauls her for wide points win or, as I say, a late stoppage.”
SERGIO MORA (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ COMMENTATOR): SHIELDS
“I think Shields-Marshall is an evenly matched and competitive fight. I like Shields by hard fought decision. I can see Marshall having early success against Shields but then getting outworked in an exciting fight. Marshall’s height will work for her early then against her late when she tires and technique fades.”
ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): SHIELDS PTS
“This is a fascinating clash of both styles and personalities. Despite the more impressive ‘form’ lines, Shields represents a significant step up for Marshall and has the edge in speed. Marshall though brings more than just power, she moves with Fury-esque guile and has the potential to do something rather special. I think Shields might outbox and outthink her bitter rival but I’m half expecting something impressive from Marshall.”
JOLENE MIZZONE (MANAGER): MARSHALL UD
“This is the kind of fight that Claressa should win every day of the week, but since it is over the pond, I have to go with the homefield advantage. This is also the type of fight that you can call a draw on too, but I pick that too much. I hate to use the homefield advantage, but this is how it works sometimes, I hope I am wrong.”
CAMILLE ESTEPHAN (PROMOTER, EYE OF THE TIGER): MARSHALL PTS
“Really looking forward to this fight a great rivalry between the two biggest stars in the female sport. I see Marshall coming out on top with a decision. I believe her height and psychological advantage will be to be too much for Shields to overcome. Although Shields does have the skills advantage.”
MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): SHIELDS SD
“I see the Shields-Marshall fight being very competitive maybe more than people think. Marshall has already beaten Claressa Shields in the amateur and to complicate things even more the fight is in England. I see Claressa Shields winning a very tough decision.”
KALLE SAUERLAND (PROMOTER, WASSERMAN BOXING): MARSHALL TKO
“I think it’s a fantastic fight and I believe Marshall will be too strong in the later rounds. I think Shields is a very good offensive boxer but her defense will allow Marshall to force a late stoppage.”
ERIC BOTTJER (MATCHMAKER): MARSHALL
“I’m a huge Shields fan. Her importance to boxing cannot be overstated. She can fight, she’s got personality (love her or not, she’s not phony) and she brings it every match. I pick Marshall. She’s the bigger puncher and she’s got nice boxing skills. An impeccable judge of distance. The team of Savannah and Peter Fury has been magic. I like Marshall to win in a fight that will beg for a rematch.”
RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): SHIELDS UD
“Shields has more grit in her. This is personal. Marshall is the only girl that beat her. Shields is more experienced and will overwhelm Marshall and win by unanimous decision.”
WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ TRAINER): MARSHALL PTS
“The fight between Savannah Marshall vs. Claressa Shields for the undisputed middleweight title should be explosive. Shields will try to push forward forcing the taller, Marshall, onto her back foot. I think Marshall will be too smart and stand her ground, fighting Shields, using her reach to pick Shields off as she comes forward. The punch output will be coming from Shields but I think the more accurate punches will be landed by Marshall and she will go on to win the fight on a close points decision.”
Final Tally: Shields 11-7
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on [email protected]