A sold-out O2 Arena bore witness to a moment of sporting history on Saturday night as Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall entered the ring to bring their ten-year rivalry to an end in the most anticipated female fight of all time.
(Photos by Mark Robinson/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
And after 10 rounds of explosive action, Claressa Shields took a unanimous decision victory (96-94, 97-93, 97-93) to become Undisputed Middleweight Champion once again.
Savannah Marshall fought tenaciously, and landed devastating shots that would have knocked out other opponents at multiple times in the fight, but Shields fought through these assaults, and used slick head movement and inch-perfect counter punching to claim victory.
The fight started in hellacious fashion as Shields fired off a brutal whirlwind of punches in the first round, many of which found their target, with Marshall firing back later in the same round and pushing Shields into the corner of the ring.
Both women kept up this stunning pace across the first 6 rounds, both smashing each other with multiple shots that would have knocked out other opponents in every round. Momentum swung back and forth multiple times in every round of the fight, while the capacity crowd at the O2 Arena erupted in jubilation at any success enjoyed by Savannah Marshall.
Both fighters started to slow from the attrition of such a savage battle in the later rounds, but both remained willing to trade punches at close range. Marshall consistently walked Shields down and pinned her to the ropes, while Shields chose her moments to unleash counter-punches, often stopping Marshall’s advance in its tracks.
The final rounds were a battle of wills as fatigue started to take effect, and both fighters dug down to the very bottom of the tank to keep going. After 10 years of rivalry, both women were willing to give everything they had to try to be victorious, and walk away Undisputed World Middleweight Champion.
Both showed tremendous spirit for every second of the 10 ferocious rounds, and showed why they are both World Champions, but Claressa Shields walked away victorious, and justified in her claim to be The Greatest Woman Of All Time.
“I bit down in every round,” Shields said. “In every round, it felt like she would hit me with a big shot, and I would hit her with a big shot. If she hit me to the body, I’d punch her to the body. But I know that I did the most work today and that I was winning with my inside combinations.”
In undercard action:
Lauren Price def. Timea Belik – TKO Rd 4 – 1:18
Another victory tonight for Olympic Gold Medalist and Welsh hero Lauren Price, only the 2nd of her young professional career, but she already looks destined to reach the very top of the sport after tonight’s stoppage victory.
Tonight’s performance only further highlighted this phenomenal potential as she calmly outclassed a skillful opponent in Timea Belik. Price controlled the fight with her jab and expertly closed the distance at the perfect moments to shoot off combinations without Belik being able to fire anything off in return.
Belik was rocked by a damaging right hook near the end of the third round, and Price came close to claiming a stoppage there. Eventually the referee decided Belik had taken enough punishment and waved the fight off from an accumulation of damage.
Caroline Dubois once again proved herself one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing, male or female, with a stunning knockout performance tonight.
Having taken 2 stoppage victories in the first 3 fights of her career, ‘Sweet Caroline’ seemed determined to make it a 3rd against an experienced opponent with 25 career fights, constantly roving forwards and throwing lightning fast 1-2s that thudded into Milena Koleva’s guard, pushing her back to the ropes.
The young Olympian started the fight tentatively, but started landing shots consistently in the second round, and ramped up the pressure from there. Dubois sent her tough opponent to the canvas in the dying seconds of the 4th round with a clubbing right hook that clipped Koleva round the ear and forced the round to end with the referee counting.
The former Team GB member finally overwhelmed her opponent with a sequence that started with a brutal left hook into Koleva’s body that left her winded, and a barage of hooks forced Koleva into the corner and the referee stopped the fight with only 7 seconds left in the round.
Team GB Olympic Bronze Medalist Karriss Artingstall took an impressive victory in the opening bout of the televised portion of the event, moving to 2-0 as a professional after her successful debut in June. Artingstall battered Marina Sakharov from the very first bell, bludgeoning Sakharov with lead right hooks and straight right hands that almost stopped her in the very first minute.
Artingstall successfully switched offense between the head and the body throughout the fight, and was able to land consistently with both. The Macclesfield native threw with spite throughout the rounds, and looked very close to stopping the fight in multiple rounds.
Sakharov took a huge amount of punishment, but kept coming forward until the final bell and took the fight to the referee’s scorecard. Artingstall showed stunning boxing ability in her professional debut, but in her sophomore bout she showed destructive punch power and the hunger to seriously hurt her opponent.
April Hunter def. Erica Alvarez – PTS 60-54
Friend and campmate of Savannah Marshall, April Hunter, took a convincing victory in her 7th professional bout, with 6 victories in that time. Hunter dealt with Alvarez’s awkward, frustrating style very successfully, connecting with jabs from the start of the first round.
Alvarez through looping, overhand rights throughout the fight, opening a small cut on the corner of Hunter’s eye in the very first round, but Hunter stayed disciplined and threw straight punches from range consistently, not allowing herself to get clipped often.
Hunter found more and more success as the fight went on, and looked close to getting a stoppage in the final rounds. Alvarez showed grit and determination to reach the final bell, but Hunter once again proved herself one of the best British boxers at her weight.
Ebonie Jones def. Vanessa Caballero – PTS 58-56
Still undefeated after four professional fights, Ebonie Jones put on a measured, but aggressive, performance on the way to a points victory. Jones used her jab and right hand to perfection against an intelligent opponent with over 40 professional fights to her name.
Jones refused to give up the centre of the ring in the fight, leaving Vanessa Caballero unable to stop Jones from firing off combinations across all the rounds. Jones continues to build momentum in her exciting professional career that looks set to carry on rising for a very long time.
Shannon Ryan def. Bucha El Quaissi – PTS 40-36
Shannon Ryan took another shutout points victory as she went to 3-0 as a professional, having not lost a single round in her career so far. She consistently outboxed and pressured an experienced opponent in Buchra El-Quaissi, landing big shots across all 4 rounds without taking much damage in return.
Ryan looked close to forcing a stoppage at points, with El Quaissi being hit with some serious shots at the end of the first round, and midway through the second, but the Spaniard showed heart to reach the final bell. In the fast moving world of Women’s boxing, Ryan looks set for big fights very soon.
Georgia O’Connor def. Joyce Van Ee – PTS 40-36
22-year-old prospect from the North East Georgia O’Connor took victory against an undefeated opponent in rough and tough Belgian Joyce Van Ee. O’Connor won Commonwealth Youth Gold in 2017, and looks set to light up the professional ranks very soon.
Van Ee dominated the centre of the ring through the fight, constantly pushing O’Connor to the ropes, forcing some slick footwork from the young star. This was an educational 4 rounds against an aggressive, undefeated opponent that will set her in good stead for even greater victories in future.
Ginny Fuchs def. Gemma Ruegg – PTS 60-54
Tokyo 2020 Olympian Ginny Fuchs took her professional record to 2-0 in a competitive six rounds that will leave her a vastly more experienced professional boxer than she entered the ring. Gemma Ruegg was tough and wily throughout the fight, and didn’t give the World Championship Bronze Medalist a moment to relax in the fight.
Fuchs found her rhythm more in the middle rounds and started to do significant damage, but not enough to stop Ruegg’s tenacious style, meaning Fuchs had to settle for a perfect points victory.
Sarah Liegmann def. Bec Connolly – PTS 59-55
Both Sarah Liegmann and Bec Connolly came to win in the fiery opening bout of the evening. Both women were willing to trade punches throughout the six rounds of the fight. The fight had quieter periods of boxing, but both were coming forward off their jab and launching right hands from the first minute to the last. Liegmann comes away from the fight an exciting 6-0 prospect in women’s boxing at only 20 years old.