Marshall hopeful of more opportunities following WBO victory

Sportsbeat
·4-min read
Savannah Marshall hopes she will be able to secure big fights in 2021 after claiming the WBO middleweight belt in October.

Savannah Marshall could not care less about the pomp and circumstance of boxing.

It’s why the newly-crowned WBO middleweight champion’s belt lies under her mum’s bed just weeks after she dismantled Scotland’s Hannah Rankin to claim the prize.

The 29-year-old Hartlepool native’s performance in winning her first world title was nothing short of emphatic at Wembley Arena, forcing her opponent to her knee in the seventh round.

But rather than basking in the glory of her triumph, Marshall is more interested in using her elevated status to secure the big fights that have so often evaded her in the past.

“I’ve always believed in myself and I always knew I was good,” she said. “I was just waiting for that opportunity for so long and when it came I still didn’t believe it was going to happen until it did.

“I like training and I like keeping fit so motivation-wise I didn’t struggle [during lockdown], I just kept thinking it has to happen, there’s no way someone can go through this many setbacks.

“I wasn’t really bothered after the fight, it was more about having the opportunity for me. All that is great but it is more about being given the chance, the relief of being able to box for a world title.

“The pressure of being champion, it doesn’t mean anything for me. I just wanted the chance. It doesn’t really matter, the belt has been under my mum’s bed for two weeks.

“It’s just materialistic, it doesn’t really matter to me. Being a world champion, I just hope I get more opportunities come my way such as the bigger fights.

“Whereas before I felt like I had to be a world champion to get the good fights. I train all year round and I train to fight so as long as I’m getting those fights, I’m not bothered.”

One name Marshall has put at the top of her to-fight list is American rival Claressa Shields, the two-time Olympic champion who holds the other three world middleweight belts.

Marshall is the only fighter to have ever beaten Shields at any level, tasting victory as an amateur in the second round of the 2012 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

While they are yet to fight as professionals, there has been a war of words ever since and Marshall has Shields and super middleweights Franchon Crews and Elin Cederroos in her sights.

“I’m looking to get out March time and then just be active, fight two or three times and maybe even get a fourth in - then I’m laughing really,” said Marshall, when asked about her 2021 plans.

“Defend my title, box well and get another couple of titles, that’s the plan. There’s two or three super middleweight and middleweights we’re going to aim for next year.

“There’s Claressa Shields, Sweden’s Elin Cederroos and American Franchon Crews, they are the three big names. They are all champions so there are some big fights out there for me.

“I don’t mind who I fight first, I’m quite happy with any of the three to be fair. I’m hoping that being a world champion, it gives me a bit of pull so I can be more active.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 has been a good year for female boxing in the UK with Matchroom’s Fight Camp shining a light on women fighters like never before.

Marshall is among the female boxers who have benefitted from increased exposure since boxing returned post-lockdown and hopes the momentum is not lost when life returns to normal.

“I think because of the financial situation, female fights are a lot cheaper to put on that male fights so really Covid has given women a chance to fight and headline shows,” she said.

“Before Covid we would never have seen a female headliner. Katie Taylor hadn’t even headlined.

“I was there at the Joshua fight and although there were only 1,000 fans it just felt like back to normal really. To be honest, [having the fans] doesn’t really bother me when I’m fighting.

“But it’s good for the fans because putting fights on pay per view, I mean the prices of pay per view have gone up because of Covid and for me, I wouldn’t have paid £25 to see a fight.”