October 15 will mark history for women’s boxing as the American Claressa Shields and Britain’s Savannah Marshall headline the O2 Arena in an undisputed middleweight clash. Following the success of Katie Taylor’s and Amanda Serrano headlining Madison Square Garden back in April, Shields and Marshall will fight to top an all-women’s card featuring a unified world title fight as a co-main event between two Americans Alycia Baumgardner and Mikaela Mayer.
Initially set to take place on September 10, the show was postponed for five weeks due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Fortunately, despite the delay, the major fights on the card are still going ahead. This added build-up time may lead to more eyes on what will be a landmark event for female boxing.
The main event has been subject to a tense build-up so far. Shields, a loud, outspoken American, is a perfect contrast to Marshall, who is known as the ‘Silent Assasin’ due to her shyness.
A decade ago, the pair first came across each other when a 20-year-old Marshall defeated a 17-year-old Shields at the 2012 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. To this day, this defeat is the only loss of Claressa’s amateur and pro careers, and it seems to eat away at her. The American is keen to avenge this defeat, stating at a pre-fight press conference, ‘“Savannah Marshall got lucky in 2012, but she won’t get lucky in 2022.”
The 27-year-old Shields has enjoyed a hugely successful amateur and pro career. As an amateur, she won gold at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, the AIBA World Boxing Championships in 2014 and 2016, and a gold medal at the Pan American Games in 2015.
In 2016, the Flint, Michigan native turned pro and has since amassed a record 12 wins and no losses. This impressive professional resume has led to her holding multiple world championships across three weight classes.
Firstly, Shields was the unified WBC and IBF female super middleweight champion from 2017 to 2018. Following her super middleweight reign, Claressa was the undisputed female middleweight champion from 2019 to 2020, holding the belts from each of the four major scanting bodies and The Ring title. Most recently, she became the undisputed female light middleweight champion in March 2021.
Shields has even ventured into mixed martial arts in search of more significant challenges. In November 2020, she signed with the Professional Fighter League (PFL). She had two fights under the organisation before returning to boxing. Although Shields won her MMA debut via a third-round TKO, the second outing did not go to plan as she lost a split decision.
Shields is the only boxer in history, regardless of gender, to hold all four major world titles —WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO— simultaneously, in two weight classes. As a result, Claressa, and many in the boxing world, have begun to refer to her as the ‘GWOAT’. This acronym stands for the ‘Greatest Woman of All Time’. From looking at her record and accomplishments in the sport, it is hard to argue with this statement.
On September 10, Shields will be defending her WBA, WBC, IBF, WBF, and The Ring female middleweight titles and be looking to take Marshall’s WBO belt. However, likely more important to Shields will be avenging the decade-old loss to the Briton.
Like Shields, Savannah Marshall has also had success at amateur and professional levels. As an amateur, she won a Bronze at the 2011 European Championships and gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. At the Aiba World Boxing Championships, she won silver in 2010, gold in 2012, and bronze in 2016. She also competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics but failed to medal at either competition.
Savannah turned professional in 2017 and made her debut on the biggest stage in boxing. After signing with Mayweather Promotions, Marshall featured early on the undercard of ‘The Money Fight’ between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor. She performed well and comfortably outboxed her opponent Sydney Leblanc.
Following her debut win, Marshall left Mayweather Promotions on good terms and signed with the British outlet Hennessy Sports. She returned to trainer Peter Fury, the uncle of heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, whom she had worked with before her debut in Vegas.
After returning to the UK, Marshall built up a series of wins under Fury. In her ninth professional fight back in October 2020, Marshall defeated Scotland’s Hannah Rankin via a 7th-round TKO in a contest for the vacant WBO female middleweight title.
Since becoming a world champion, Savannah has defended her belt three times. She has made light work of her opponents on all three occasions, knocking them all out within three rounds. These fierce performances have created plenty of interest and anticipation for the undisputed clash with Shields.
Shields v Marshall is not the only exciting fight on this card. The co-main provides a unified super featherweight contest between Alycia Baumgardner and Mikaela Mayer. Many in the boxing world suggest this is perhaps a more competitive, exciting fight than the top of the bill. Much like the main event, these two fighters are not fond of one another, and so far, there has been an intense build-up. The bigger, taller fighter Mayer is bringing her WBO, IBF, and The Ring titles to the fight, while Baumgardner is putting her WBC strap on the line.
The young prospect Caroline Dubois, a Tokyo 2020 Olympian and younger sister of British heavyweight Daniel Dubois, is set to have her third professional contest on the bill. Dubois was initially set to face the seasoned Bulgarian fighter Milena Koleva. However, with the postponement, this opponent may be subject to change.
Finally, two Team GB Tokyo 2020 medallists, Lauren Price from Wales and Karriss Artingstall from England, also feature. The two outstanding amateurs now turned exciting professional prospects, who are a couple, are both set to have their second professional fights.
Betting Odds and Where to Watch
Despite holding more belts, Shields comes into the fight as a slight underdog. Bookmakers have the odds for a Shields victory at 1/1, while Marshall is the favourite with odds of 5/6.
The fight will be available to watch on Sky Sports in the UK. The event will be available in the US to those with an ESPN+ subscription. Be sure to tune in on the evening of October 15, or the afternoon for US viewers, and witness a historic moment for the women’s side of the sport.