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Savannah Marshall: “People Love Watching People Who Actually Hate Each Other Fight”


Without a great rival, a natural dance partner, a fighter, no matter how special or talented, will not be able to feature in truly memorable ring battles. All the great ones that we so love and admire had an arch-rival, a rival who was almost as good as they were and therefore presented a very real threat. Ali had Frazier, Robinson had LaMotta, Zale had Graziano, Barrera had Morales, and so it went.

As great as all the above fighters were, they would not have been looked at as specially, they would not have been as celebrated had they not been pushed to the limit in epic fights given to them by the rival in the other corner, the rival who cast almost as big a shadow as they did. And they wouldn’t have been as rich.

Savannah Marshall says she understands how every star fighter needs an intense rival, and that it helps if the two fighters cannot stand one another. Marshall, speaking with Sky Sports, said her rivalry with Claressa Shields should absolutely continue, and that the rematch can and will happen. Marshall said fans really like the fights that “have a bit of needle,” and that she and Marshall can only make the really big bucks by fighting each other.

“I’ve seen how my profile grew just from that one fight and I believe that was down to the rivalry,” Marshall said of the October 2022 fight with Shields. “Even now, all people are saying is, ‘When’s the rematch? When’s the rematch?’ That’s what boxing’s about. It’s a business. If you haven’t got a rival, it’s not that you’re going to struggle. But that’s where it happens. They’re the fights people want. Where there’s a bit of needle.”

To this end, Marshall says Shields must fight her again, that “she needs me as much as I need her.” Just like Ali needed Frazier as much as Joe needed him, just as Robinson needed LaMotta as much as Jake needed him, and on and on.

“She’s never going to make as much money fighting anyone else than what she would fighting me,” Marshall said of the woman who won a decision over her in a middleweight unification clash. “I’ve learned that’s what boxing is about. People love confrontation. People love watching people who actually hate each other fight.”

Shields is in action this Saturday, against Maricela Cornejo in a four-belt middleweight title defence. Marshall will return July 1, when she will challenge unified 168 pound champ Franchon Crews-Dezurn. Both fights are interesting, yet neither is anywhere near as big a Shields-Marshall II.

Marshall fully understands this, but does Shields?

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