Savannah Marshall produced the performance of her career against fellow Briton Hannah Rankin in a dominant display on Saturday night at Wembley Arena to claim the World Boxing Organisation middleweight world title and register a seventh stoppage in her unbeaten nine-fight professional career.
Marshall, 29, from Hartlepool, finished the Scotswoman with a barrage of hooks, a sickening body shot and uppercuts. The fight had been postponed, by just two weeks, when Marshall’s trainer Peter Fury tested positive for Covid-19 in Peterborough at Eddie Hearn’s last Matchroom Boxing event.
Marshall had spoken of her delight at being included on the undercard of the heavyweight pay-per-view headlined by Derek Chisora and Oleksandr Usyk, and she took full advantage of a much bigger audience to show her class.
Marshall produced a scintillating display in becoming the first fighter to stop Rankin. Marshall moved her head well and utilised her advantages in height and reach early in the dance, measuring her opponent with the jab, the ‘Silent Assassin’ waiting until the fourth round before unleashing punctuated attacks.
Slipping and sliding her way through the first three stanzas, light on her toes, Marshall evaded the more direct attacks of Rankin, mostly brave and obdurate as her nose became bloodied and face smeared in a redness from the friction of the less experienced professional fighter’s fists.
Clearly on top, Marshall went to work in the fourth round landing heavy, hurtful shots to head and body. And from then on she took over.
The taller fighter showed her repertoire with clever uppercuts with both hands before attacking heavy-handedly in the seventh with Rankin taking a knee late in the seventh. Referee Victor Loughlin gave the Scotswoman a standing count, but waved his hands to call off the contest. There were no remonstrations from Rankin. The 30-year-old, gritty to the end, was hurt and finished.
Marshall joins Terry Harper (super featherweight), and Chantelle Cameron (light welterweight) as British females who are now world champions, her target now a showdown with American Claressa 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.
Marshall remains the only boxer to have beaten Shields in the both paid and unpaid ranks, though defeat in the Olympic Games still rankles. “I know professional boxing is a business,” said Marshall.
“For me, there is only really one great fight out there for me and it’s with Shields. It’s a fight I dream of. So I’m going for it. It’s the endgame for my career.”