Marshall fights Hannah Rankin this Saturday on the undercard of the heavyweight pay-per-view clash at Wembley Arena
Savannah Marshall was prepared for the most important fight of her professional career against fellow Briton Hannah Rankin for the vacant WBO middleweight world title in Peterborough two weeks ago.
But then came a body blow with the fight postponed at the 11th hour when her trainer, Peter Fury, tested positive for Covid-19 inside Matchroom Boxing’s bubble.
Imagine, then, the delight for the 29-year-old former amateur world champion when promoter Eddie Hearn announced just a week later that Marshall would fight Rankin this Saturday on the undercard of the heavyweight pay-per-view clash between Oleksandr Usyk and Derek Chisora at Wembley Arena.
“Honestly, it has been a dream to have the fight rescheduled so quickly, and on this card,” said Marshall. “After the past week I’ve just been overjoyed with the news. I couldn’t have asked for a better or bigger platform than on the Usyk-Chisora bill.
“It was frustrating that the fight fell through, but it’s one of those things. There was nothing I could have done about it. Peter is okay which is the main thing.”
Hartlepool-born Marshall, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and now an eight-fight undefeated prizefighter, was a painfully shy character when she first appeared at the London 2012 Games, but has grown in stature and confidence through her 20s.
I can recall interviewing the 6ft-tall boxer ahead of the London Games, where women were competing for the first time. Marshall, who explained then that she had walked into a gym aged 11 in her home town and was the only female there, admitted that she found interviews with the media more intimidating than the fights she stepped into.
Yet how ‘Sav’ has grown. Now, under the auspices of Tyson Fury’s former trainer and uncle Peter, the figure who took the ‘Gypsy King’ to victory over Wladimir Klitschko five years ago – it was after a sparring session with Love Island reality television star Tommy Fury, Tyson’s half-brother, which brought Peter and Savannah together as a team – the boxer now begins a journey to elite level at a burgeoning time both for herself and women’s boxing.
Recalling that sparring session with Tommy Fury, Marshall said: “I remember Peter saying to Tommy, ‘Don’t you dare touch her, don’t you dare hit her’. Tommy was working on his defence and moving. I went back home after that and he invited me down for a couple of weeks. I trained with Peter for five or six weeks and he showed me the ropes on the pros, showed me how to punch properly and how to plant my feet. Marshall then went to the USA for a period, under Floyd Mayweather’s promotional arm, but admitted that it “did not work out”. Back she went to her rock.
“Peter is the only person I trusted in pro-boxing and I believed he had my best interests at heart, he never took anything off me and generally helped me. When I came back to the UK I asked him to train me full time.”
The endgame for Marshall (record 8-0, with 6 knockouts) is a huge contest with American Clarissa Shields, the three-weight world champion who defeated the Briton at the Olympic Games in London, though Marshall had defeated her rival en route to a gold medal at the 2012 World Women’s Amateur Championships.
“I know professional boxing is a business,” said Marshall. “Really, being at the bigger weights there is no other fight out there for me. For me, there is only really that fight there for me so I’m going to ride it as best I can. Once we have fought then where is there for me to go?”
Rankin, though, has warned Marshall that she looks beyond their clash at her peril. “All we ever hear about is that fight [with Claressa Shields],” said Rankin, 30 (record 9-4, 2 KOs), a former IBO super-welterweight World Champion, who was raised on a sheep farm just outside the Loch Lomondside village of Luss and who also performs as a trained classical musician. “This is going to be the first time she’s faced someone who’s had a full camp. I’m coming to win and I’m going home with that belt. It’s going to be a brand new experience for her.” Game on.
Savannah Marshall vs Hannah Rankin for the WBO Women’s middleweight title is live on Sky Box Office on Saturday night