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The last hurdle between Savannah Marshall and Claressa Shields

Savannah Marshall
Savannah Marshall headlines as she waits for that elusive showdown with Claressa Shields, writes John Dennen

WE want to see Savannah Marshall fighting Claressa Shields. Marshall is the only boxer to have beaten the American star, in a now long distant 2012 amateur bout. They have a budding rivalry, the qualities they possess should make for a great fight and yet we have to wait. Shields took a facile win over Ema Kozin in Cardiff to complete her side of setting up their eventual showdown. Now Marshall must do her part and get through Femke Hermans at the Newcastle Arena on Saturday (April 2).

Hermans is reasonably experienced. She’s gone the 10 rounds distance five times in her 15-bout professional career. She only won two of them though. The 32-year-old boxer from Belgium has regularly fought for sanctioning body belts. Her first defeat came in 2018 against Alicia Napoleon for a WBA strap. Her best win came immediately after that when she widely outpointed Nikki Adler to win the WBO’s super-middleweight belt. That belt brought her to Claressa Shields. Hermans can switch stances but against Shields couldn’t make that effective. The American landed harder, cleaner shots as Hermans struggled to counter-attack. She did though show that she was durable enough to take the power punches that clipped her chin.

After an intensely busy 2018, when she fought five times, she only had one contest the following year, which she lost to still unbeaten IBF belt-holder Elin Cederroos. She’s rebuilt from there with three contests against low-level opposition in Belgium. Coming off one bout in 2021 against Lili Jumali, who was then just 1-0, is far from ideal preparation for Savannah Marshall.

Her professional opponents haven’t really got close to Marshall, so we haven’t seen her pushed to her limits yet. She is a gifted boxer, who was a two-time Olympian as well as being a World championship and Commonwealth Games gold medallist. She boxes with quality technique, throwing long shots well from either hand as well as delivering power through heavy hooks. Marshall should become the first pro to stop Hermans. That would then leave no further obstacles between her and that grudge match with Shields.

“I’m really happy to be going back to Newcastle Utilita Arena after the amazing reception I received there last time. Femke is a very tough girl and it’s going to be a hard night’s work but I’m really looking forward to putting on a show,” Marshall said. “I really can’t wait.” 

There is a competitive fight on the undercard. Chris Jenkins got back in business with a solid performance over Julius Indongo in February. A former belt-holder Indongo is 39 years old now and Jenkins’ skill, aggression and ambition closed him out of the fight. On this show he boxes Florian Marku, the strong, unbeaten Albanian. Marku can get drawn in, but his physicality and size should be able to tame Jenkins and bring him a points decision win.

“I’m excited for my first fight of the year, it’s going to be the start of very big things. I love fighting in new places so I’m looking forward to entertaining the amazing Newcastle fans and showing them my brand of fighting,” said Marku. “This will be a tough fight between two warriors. This is an important year for me – I’m looking to make a big statement.”

The show, televised by Sky Sports, is a co-promotion between Boxxer and Wasserman.

There have been late notice changes to the bill. Bradley Rea comes in to fight Lukas Ndafoluma and Zak Chelli takes on Jack Kilgannon in two eight rounders.

Look out for prospects Hosea Stewart, Matty Harris, Chloe Watson and Georgia O’Connor too among others.

The Verdict Why are we waiting for Shields vs Marshall?

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