Shields vs. Marshall: The American secures her legacy as the best female boxer of all time

It was a fight that took place a decade ago and ended in front of almost 20,000 people in a night of boxing to remember. An evening of reputations secured.

Claressa Shields beat Savannah Marshall late Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London to take revenge for a defeat in 2012 and end all arguments, debates and claims about her status.

She’s known as “GWOAT,” which is a tricky acronym, but she’s arguably the greatest woman in the ring of all time. The facts fit the name: Shields has now won world titles at three different weights, held all four belts twice and won back-to-back Olympic gold medals. Her only loss as an amateur or pro in nearly 90 fights was the only loss to Marshall in 2012.

On Saturday they were the best Shields ever in a fight that was relentless from the first bell to the last bell. It was also the toughest night of her career, a struggle she knew would secure her legacy. Shields and Marshall fought for all four middleweight belts, and they each just had their 13th pro fight. Both were obviously undefeated. Women’s football is an extraordinary platform, a place where the best female boxers have nowhere to hide.

The fight between Shields and Marshall has been personal – personal and urgent since that afternoon in China in May 2012 when a teenager from Shields lost to Marshall. On Saturday night, they sometimes fought with a desperation that made their 10-round bout an epic. Both knew long, long before the opening bell that the winner had to go deeper into the wild and unforgiving places that the sport demands of its very best boxers. They set off together. And took it voluntarily.

The misleading narrative behind this fight was exposed early on when Shields, the mover and boxer, had to stand and trade punches with Marshall, the story’s puncher; The boxer fought and the puncher had to box. They settled into a pattern of brilliance and defiance. They just wouldn’t give in.

Shields was too skillful and quick in the first four or five rounds, but often had to stand and act. Shields took the punches that 10 of Marshall’s previous 12 opponents couldn’t. And Shields was wild with her own attacks when caught in a corner or being pushed back to the ropes. She mixed speed with courage, and Marshall suited her.

By the end of round five, it looked like a long journey back for Marshall, but her persistence and refusal to back down transformed the fight, leading to a standing chorus of hope from the sold-out crowd in the second half.

Marshall (left) improved as the Main Event progressed but came up short


In rounds six and seven, and possibly even eight and nine, Marshall was able to push Shields back and take shots to the body and head. The crowd loved it, but Shields cautiously rolled, blocked, and ducked from trouble. Shields always rallied in the last 10 or so seconds, their combat instincts simply refusing to let them close a round, secured and covered up. That is, believe me, old school – an age-old trick of the sport’s revered icons. Shields is certainly part of that cherished history now.

The final lap was relentless. The bell almost got lost amid the din, and then they parted; there was no cuddling or hugging and smiling. That came a little later. Shields won by two turns on one scorecard and four turns on the other two. There was no argument and then luckily there was respect.

“The right woman won,” Marshall said. “I thought it would be close.” It was certainly tough and competitive.

And Shields, sitting down and rocking her belts, was finally respectful. “Marshall is a great fighter, so tough,” she said. Shields also dismissed a rematch; Marshall wants one.

Shields and Marshall showed respect after the fight

(Action pics via Reuters)

Right now, in a thriving women’s business, Shields has no more challengers and challenges in the boxing world. As a winner and world champion now in the light middleweight, middleweight and super middleweight divisions, there are no more rivals. None, she’s done with the pursuers. She might switch back and forth between mixed martial arts and maybe even peek into the wrestling world. She has nothing left to prove in the boxing world – she has mastered this wondrous universe.

Marshall can take a break, which she will need, knowing she pushed the best fighter of each generation to the end. It was rough at the O2 on Saturday and it was a night of glorious history written by Claressa Shields, GWOAT. Shields vs. Marshall: The American secures her legacy as the best female boxer of all time

Fry Electronics Team

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