This Saturday afternoon, US time ESPN+ delivers a doubleheader extravaganza with Claressa Shields vs. Savannah Marshall and Mikaela Mayer vs. Alyca Baumgardner. This is a great moment in woman’s boxing, with two marquee matchups on one night showing major progress the ladies have made in recent years. Both fights are intriguing on many levels however the betting lines do have Mayer as a fairly strong favorite, considering the talk inside the boxing world.
Let’s begin with the main event, where will see a rematch from the amateurs between Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall. As you probably already know, Marshall is the only boxer that can say she defeated the two-time Gold Medalist winner. Of course, that bout took place a long time ago, and in the paid ranks, it’s crystal clear who has faced the better opposition. Looking back at the fight the other day it was also clear as day that although Shields had a tremendous amateur career in that fight her style was more suited for the pros.
In the unpaid ranks and early on as a pro, Shields was looking to land bombs putting everything she had into her punches. As time has gone on and the competition stepped up, Shields has transformed into more of a patient, fundamentally sound boxer. In fact, Claressa hasn’t stopped anyone since her 2017 TKO of Nikki Adler. Normally that would be a big question mark, but her all-around game has grown to the point that it’s difficult to even win one or two rounds let alone enough to win outright against Shields.
Standing across the ring this Saturday night at the O2 arena in London is the power-punching Savannah Marshall. Marshall has a pro record of 12-0 with 10 knockouts, riding an 8-in-a-row KO streak heading into what is a career-defining matchup. The only question about her power is who she has been taking out before the final bell rings. Savannah’s last time going the 10-round distance came against 4-0 Yanina Orozco back in 2018. On paper, Marshall’s 2nd round TKO of the 16-0 Lolita Muzeya looks great but a deeper dig shows Lolita’s resume is short on quality wins.
At the end of the day, all that trash talk we’ve heard from both women is cheap, and the beautiful thing about this debate is we get the outcome shortly. Looking back at that amateur bout and how it translates to Saturday’s matchup, surprisingly, it will look somewhat similar. Shields will have to jab her way inside using head and upper body movement to land combinations. Marshall will use her jab and height to stay at range, mostly looking to counter Claressa with her right hands and, to a lesser extent, left hooks. The betting books have this fight as a pick’em, but one can still get Shields as a +100. The outcome will come down to how real Marshall’s power is and how composed Shields remain throughout.
My Official Prediction is Claressa Shields by Unanimous Decision.
On to the other main event, which is technically the co-feature matching clear favorite Mikaela Mayer versus Alycia Baumgardner. The bad blood between Shields and Marshall has been bubbling for years, and lucky for us fans, these two ladies don’t seem to like each other as well. The more established fighter is Mayer, but of late, Baumgardner made a helluva statement by knocking out Terri Harper in November 2021. Mikaela is the more experienced boxer at the pro level, and on paper, she is a favorite with Alycia sitting anywhere from +200 all the way up to +230, which screams take a flyer on out on her.
Mayer will have the height and size advantage, but she may not use it judging by the way she’s been talking. Mayer is fundamentally sound with a solid jab, able to fight at a distance or bring the fight to her foes. Mikaela has been tested and has improved from it, showing more aggression and a body attack of late. She may start at a measured pace, but my guess is she will be the one coming forward trying to cut off the ring.
Baumgardner has a different style, less of a standing straight-up euro stance like Mayer and more of an American type of fighter, keeping her hands low and able to land on the move. She can change levels from the outside with her crouching stance, baiting opponents inside only to land flush punches with either hand. She has the ability to be on the move but also can execute in the pocket much like Mayer, Alycia uses angles well with impressive footwork. The experience against better boxers favors Mayer, sure, but the speed and especially power tilts all the way to Baumgardner.
This one could take a little while to heat up as both boxers feint and poke their way around, seeing what openings they can exploit. At some point, it will be Mikaela setting what better be a fast pace. How much success Mikaela has come forward will depend on if Alycia can make her pay via hand speed, circling/pivots, and meaningful counter punching. It will be up to Mikaela to crowd and rough up Baumgardner on the inside while still using angles & defense to avoid counters. It will be interesting to see any adjustments Alycia makes from the trouble she had with a busy roughhousing game plan that Christina Linardatou used in her SD victory over Baumgardner. Let’s not forget that Christina made a good account for herself against Katie Taylor in 2019.
When I did my podcast on late Tuesday night, and even as I write this preview article, I fully admit this boxing junkie is on the fence. One thing I do know is this fight will feature plenty of two-way action so it wouldn’t hurt to put a little something down on a draw. The mixture of scoring points and doing damage to the body and head on the inside by Mikaela is her path to victory. Ideally, Alycia will be waiting in the cut, making Mikaela pay for every forward step or mistake with flush shots that could render Mayer tentative.
My Official Prediction is Alycia Baumgardner by Spilt-Decision.
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Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio