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Shields-Marshall Lead Delayed But Still Primed Card

Shields-Marshall Lead Delayed But Still Primed Card

Boxing News

Shields-Marshall Lead Delayed But Still Primed Card

Boxxer Promotions

Shields-Marshall Lead Delayed But Still Primed Card

The women’s championship unification doubleheader may have been delayed by a month, but the four fighters — Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall in the main event and Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner in the co-feature — remain focused and confident as they head into the biggest fights of their careers.

Three-belt middleweight champion Claressa Shields and WBO titlist Savannah Marshall, longtime rivals, meet for the undisputed title and IBF/WBO junior lightweight titlist Mikaela Mayer squares off with WBC titlist Alycia Baumgardner in a three-belt unification bout Saturday (ESPN+ in the U.S., Sky Sports in the U.K., 2:30 p.m. ET) at The O2 in London.

The fights were initially scheduled for Sept. 10, also at The O2, but postponed the day before due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Promoter Boxxer was able to quickly reschedule the all-women’s card and none of the featured fighters seem to have lost their dislike for their opponent — attitudes that carried over to Thursday’s pre-fight news conference.

Shields has grown tired of the constant talk of Marshall’s vaunted punching power.

“Of course, we’ve got to talk about her punching power. She’s going to try to come out there and land a big shot,” Shields said during the testy news conference. “She may want to fight on the inside or on the outside. But she just wants to be able to touch me and land. That’s really all I see. But it’s a boxing match. I may get hit in there, but if she thinks she won’t get hit, then she’s mistaken.

“If she thinks she is a better boxer than me, she’s mistaken. But we’re going to let her think whatever she wants to think and do whatever she wants to do because I’m going to adapt and do whatever I have to do to win and make the fight easy.”

Watch us discussing Shields-Marshall with predictions off our BetUs Boxing Show Friday’s live at 1 p.m. Eastern Time,

Three-division champion Shields (12-0, 2 KOs), 27, of Flint, Michigan, and Marshall (12-0, 10 KOs), 31, of England, have a long-running feud, making their fight one of the most anticipated in women’s boxing.

She gladly accepted an offer to fight Marshall in her home country.

“I’m not worried about Savannah Marshall. I came over here,” Shields said. “I’m a star in America. Don’t get it twisted. I didn’t have to come over here. Nobody was ever running from her. Nobody was ever scared to come over here and fight her. We said, ‘Let’s do it.’ And you better punch as hard as you say you can, because if you don’t have any punching power, it’s going to be a hard night for you.”

Shields was the undisputed middleweight champion before vacating the belt that Marshall eventually won. Shields is not only seeking to reclaim that belt but also to avenge her only boxing defeat. She was 77-1 as an amateur and won two Olympic gold medals but lost a 14-8 decision as a teenager to Marshall in a disputed 2012 bout.

Marshall sounded confident that she would repeat the amateur victory.

“I think she will come up short. I believe I’m a better boxer than Claressa,” Marshall said. “I believe I have always been. I cannot wait. Saturday couldn’t come quick enough. We had a 12-week camp and a five-week pushback. I’m just itching to get in there now.

“In the back of your mind, you’re petrified that I’m going to knock you out and that’s why you keep asking (me if I think I’m going to knock you out). Knockouts don’t matter? It will matter when you’re on your back looking at the lights.

“She can try to knock me out. But if you’ve got it, then you’ve got it. If you haven’t got it, then you haven’t. It is what it is. Why is it hard for you to knock someone out? If you land on someone, then you hurt them. If you land on them and you’ve got pillow fists, then they’re not going to go anywhere. There’s nothing left to say. I can’t wait for Saturday. Let’s get it on.”

Mayer and Baumgardner don’t have nearly as long of a running feud as Shields and Marshall, but they seem to have an even more intense dislike for each other and have trash talked each other for months.

Nothing changed on Thursday, when they jawed at each other and later had to be separated.

“This is huge for me. I’ve said that I wanted to become undisputed,” Mayer said. “There’s a reason why I’ve called out Alycia and why I’ve called out all the champions. I think that I have been pushing for the biggest fights possible. But honestly, I don’t think you could have put a card like this five years ago. It’s really shown how far women’s boxing has come.

“Everything has been very strategic. That’s how I’ve been trained by Coach Al (Mitchell). We go in there with a cool head and execute what we’ve been working on in the gym. He hates all this. He’s sitting here shaking his head at this whole thing. He wants to get to the gym. We have to go to the gym after this, and that’s what he’s focused on. My team keeps me cool. They keep me calm and focused on the goal.”

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Since 2000, award-winning reporter Dan Rafael has covered boxing full time and been ringside for thousands of fights, first for five years at USA Today and then for 15 years at ESPN, where he wrote and appeared on various television, radio and streaming programs. In 2013, Dan was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America with the Nat Fleischer award for career excellence in boxing journalism. Dan brings his great insight to the Big Fight Weekend site, podcast and more!

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