- By Kal Sajad
- BBC Sport at the AO Arena, Manchester
Britain’s Savannah Marshall became the undisputed super-middleweight champion with a majority decision points win over American Franchon Crews-Dezurn at Manchester’s AO Arena.
The 32-year-old home fighter started slowly but landed the cleaner, heavier shots in a grueling but fast-paced contest.
The judges scored the fight 95-95, 99-92 and 97-93.
After the match, Marshall called for a rematch with Claressa Shields.
With American Shields in attendance and a vocal presence at ringside, Marshall said: “Thanks for coming, let’s do it at super-middleweight.”
Marshall overcomes tough Crews-Dezurn challenge
Promoter Ben Shalom said 8,000 tickets were sold, but there seemed to be fewer in the 21,000-seat arena.
However, there was a loud reception for Marshall as the Hartlepool fighter, as the challenger, walked to the ring first.
Then came the time for the national anthem and what was possibly boxing first. Baltimore fighter Crews-Dezurn – a singer who once auditioned for American Idol – took the microphone and belted out the United States’ Star-Spangled Banner. The Manchester crowd, and Marshall, were less than impressed.
With the theatrics over, it was time for action.
It was a sloppy and loose opening, both fighters holding down their work with Crews-Dezurn landing some solid hooks. Marshall responded with a straight down the barrel in the second.
The first rounds are difficult to score. Crews-Dezurn fell to the canvas in the third, the referee correctly ruling it a slip. Marshall was pushed to the floor in the next round. There was a lot of clinching and neither boxer was able to settle into their rhythm.
Marshall started to find his range, boxing behind the jab a bit better and landing combinations in the middle rounds.
Despite boasting just two KO wins, ‘Heavy-Hitting Diva’ Crews-Dezurn didn’t stop moving forward, trying to rape Marshall on the inside and throwing wild, looping hooks. But Marshall keeps pace and comes out on top of exchanges.
A superb combination to the head and body left Crews-Dezurn wincing in the eighth. Marshall – feeling like he was leading the cards – began to move more freely around the ring, even trying to land some uppercuts inside.
The fighters continued to fire their hands in the final round. Marshall may have been guilty of times not playing to his strength, height and reach advantage, but there was little dispute over the decision, despite one judge scoring a draw.
‘I’ll fight him no matter the weight’ – Shields
With her four new world title belts wrapped around her, Marshall welcomes a rematch with Shields, a woman who calls herself GWOAT – greatest female fighter of all time.
Despite the convincing manner in which Shields won eight months ago, promoter Shalom said a rematch would make sense for both fighters. There is no bigger payday for any of them.
“I don’t think I’ll do middleweight – it’s a bit of a tight squeeze but he could have a shot at super-middle,” Marshall said.
Shields, speaking on Sky Sports, replied: “If Savannah goes to the USA, I’ll fight her at any weight. I’ve been here. [to the UK] and beat him.
“If he goes to the USA he will be rocked in Detroit. He has a lot of weaknesses and didn’t learn from his last fight with me.”
It wasn’t a vintage performance from Marshall, but the fact that he was considering retirement after his loss to Shields shows the lack of depth within the division.
Marshall will feel that he is succeeding and a slight change in tactics is needed. ‘GWOAT’ will see this as another simple night task. He is also running out of opponents to defeat.
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