Likely opponents are thin enough on the ground already for Savannah Marshall that you might have thought Lauren Price claiming the middleweight gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics could set up a potential rivalry. Marshall, though, thinks that although Prices holds a victory over her from amateur days, a return is unlikely to happen for the foreseeable future.
Price wore the GB vest in Tokyo that Marshall had at the previous Olympics that women competed in – London 2012 and Rio 2016 – without winning a medal, having won a World Championships gold medal in 2016, where she beat Claressa Shields on the way to the final.
Marshall, who makes the second defence of her WBO middleweight title against Lolita Muzeya, of Zambia, in Newcastle on October 16, once boxed Price, losing to her in 2016 at a tournament in Spain. But she believes if Price does turn professional, she will be moving down in weight.
“I thought the Olympics were really, really good, it was the first time in eight years that I have actually watched it,” Marshall said. “I’m good mates with Lauren, I was really happy for her.
“To be honest, if Lauren turns pro, I don’t think she will be a middleweight, she will go right down to welter. She’s not a big middle. She wanted to go down to welterweight but Sandy Ryan was there, so the space [on the squad] for her was middleweight.
“We boxed about six years ago and she beat me, but she won middleweight gold so maybe, it would be a great fight one day.”
They are close enough, though, that Price had initially agreed to come to Marshall’s training base in Cheshire to help her prepare for this title defence, despite having had a break from training since returning from Tokyo.
“I was supposed to fight a different opponent before, who was a small southpaw, and I asked Lauren if there was any chance she could give me a spar,” Marshall said. “She said ‘no worries, just let me know and I will come up’. Then the opponent changed so I needed different sparring.”
Marshall admits that she knows little of Muzeya, who is 30 and has won all her 16 professional bouts in a career stretching back eight years.
“She’s tall, she’s unbeaten, she can punch, she has had eight knockouts, she a good boxer, she keeps it long and she can dig, so I think it is going to be quite a tough fight for me,” Marshall said.
“There is not a lot of film of her, and she has no amateur experience, she has never boxed outside Africa, so a lot of her opponents have not been the best of quality. But I can’t really rely on that.”
It is 11 months since Marshall won her world title by beating Hannah Rankin. This fight will be her first since leaving Matchroom and signing for BOXXER, the new house promoter for Sky Sports, which she hopes will be a boost for her career and help set up a fight with Shields. In Newcastle she co-headline the bill with Hughie Fury, whom she trains with under the guidance of Hughie’s father, Peter.
“I think I’ve improved since I became a world champion, not just my ability but my physique,” Marshall said.
“Becoming a world champion really made no difference to me. Everyone was saying ‘your life will change’ and I had a buzz for about two days and then it was ‘well, better get myself back to the gym’. It wore off quite quick.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.