IBF, WBA & WBO female middleweight champion Claressa Shields (13-0, 2 KOs) retained her unbeaten streak with an impressive 10 round unanimous decision victory over WBO champion Savannah Marshall (12-1, 10 KOs) in their undisputed contest on Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London.
Shields took advantage of her superior hand speed to dominate the slower but more powerful Savannah early in the contest and then held on to get the win in the second half.
Marshall fought well in the second half, walking through Shields’ best shots to land her harder punches that seemed to sap the energy from the American.
Unfortunately for Marshall, she had given away too many early rounds for her to get back into the fight. Had she started earlier, and if this were a 12-rounder, Marshall would have had a chance. One of the negatives of women’s boxing is the fights are only 10 rounds instead of 12.
Marshall was smothering a lot of her work by fighting in close much of the time, and she would have been better off staying on the outside to maximize her power.
Shields’ hand speed & combination punching was extraordinary tonight, as she looked considerably faster than the heavy-handed Marshall, and her punch output was too much for Savannah.
In hindsight, you can second guess Savannah’s decision not to make it a rough dog fight earlier in the contest because she fought well when she got physical with Shields in the championship rounds.
Marshall and her coaches knew that she had the power advantage, and they shot have adapted early on when it was clear that Shields had too much speed.
They might have assumed that Marshall would eventually land one of his big shots to hurt Shields, but that wasn’t going to happen with her getting out-landed two to one.
With the right coaching, Savannah could have pulled out the victory tonight because she looked good when the trainer had her switch to plan B late in the fight.
Savannah’s plan A tonight should have been to rough up Shields from the get-go to throw her off because there was no way that she could match the speed.
Shields, 27, avenged her defeat at the hands of Marshall from a decade ago when the two fought in the amateur ranks in 2012.