Claressa Shields had to work significantly harder than ever in her pro boxing career, but she won a fair decision over Savannah Marshall today in London, becoming undisputed middleweight champion for a second time.
Scores were 96-94, 97-93, and 97-93, all for Shields. Our unofficial card had it 96-94 for Shields, as well.
It’s the third total undisputed championship for Shields (13-0, 2 KO), who has twice done it at 160 and once at 154. Marshall (12-1, 10 KO) stacked up as potentially her greatest threat at any weight, and that certainly proved to be the case.
Marshall’s awkward style, height, and willingness — and ability to — eat shots on the way in to get her own work done made it tough for Shields, and the two fought at a tremendous pace, kicking off with aggression and never letting up on that, even when it was clear both were tired in the second half of the bout.
To Marshall’s credit, she remains the obvious No. 2 middleweight in the sport, and honestly, the gap between her and the rest is wider than the gap between Shields and herself.
“After that display tonight, and after a tough opponent — I couldn’t even see out of my right eye from round six through 10, because she does hit hard,” Shields said. “But I bit down and I did what I do in training, and I got the job done.
“I just want to thank Savannah Marshall and her team. I want to thank the whole UK for being here, because it’s not just a special moment for me, but it’s a special moment for women’s boxing. Savannah Marshall, Alycia Baumgardner, Mikaela Mayer, Caroline Dubois — I mean, women’s boxing has been around for so many years, and so many greats that came before us, but here we are in front of 20,000 fans in London. I think that’s Fight of the Year! I’m so happy. It’s just an unbelievable moment for me right now.”
Shields paid more respect to her longtime rival, saying, “She’s a tough competitor, she’s a hard puncher, she has endurance, but I’m the better fighter 10 years later. And if you ask me, I’m 2-0 against her, because I never felt like I lost in the amateurs, but now I guess we can say we’re 1-1. I don’t know why she’d want to retire, but if that’s what she wants to do, do it. But she’s got a lot left for sure.”
Shields may still return to mixed martial arts with PFL, and said that the rematch clause in the contract won’t be triggered because the decision wasn’t “controversial.” Shields did say she’d be willing to do a rematch if the fans want it.
“Claressa’s a brilliant fighter, she definitely is,” Marshall said. “She’s not as fast as what I thought she is, but no, she’s a brilliant fighter, and she’s definitely earned the title of the ‘Greatest Woman of All-Time.”
Marshall expressed interest in a rematch, and the two raised hands and embraced after it was all over.