Claressa Shields shared the ring with Franchon Crews and Savannah Marshall on her way to winning world titles in three weight classes.
Based on her experiences with both boxers, Shields cannot envision England’s Marshall beating the undisputed super middleweight champion when they meet July 1 at AO Arena in Manchester, England. Shields favors Crews as much for her mental makeup as her physical attributes.
“I believe Franchon will win the fight,” Shields told BoxingScene.com. “Franchon is stronger than Savannah Marshall. And I can say that after experiencing both of them inside the ring. She’s mentally stronger than Savannah Marshall, also. I watched the press conference and I seen Savannah say, ‘Oh, I believe that I’ll beat Franchon.’ She said it in a way that was not confident and like she’s taking this fight to kinda hide her shame.”
Baltimore’s Crews (8-1, 2 KOs) hasn’t lost since Shields beat her by unanimous decision in the four-round pro debut for each of them in November 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Marshall (12-1, 10 KOs) is the only opponent who has defeated Shields during the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s time as an amateur or pro, but Shields avenged her amateur loss to Marshall in her last fight.
Shields (13-0, 2 KOs), of Flint, Michigan, outboxed Marshall and won their 10-round middleweight title unification bout by unanimous decision October 15 at O2 Arena in London. The 28-year-old Shields contends that she damaged Marshall’s confidence in addition to ruining her perfect record and expects Crews to capitalize on that during their fight for Crews’ IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 168-pound championships.
“As of right now, I’m the better fighter between me and Franchon because I beat Franchon in the ring,” Shields said. “Savannah Marshall said she’s gonna knock me out in two rounds, I won’t last, she’s gonna catch me with one [punch], all she need is one. She was doing all that stuff in the lead-up. She got in my face and she’s talking trash. And now at the press conference with Franchon, she’s all humble. So, I humbled Savannah Marshall and I took all her belief in her boxing ability and her power away.
“And I think that her having the attitude that she has now will definitely be her downfall against Franchon, because Franchon is a hundred percent confident in her skills, her power, her grit, her heart. She just won’t lay down for Savannah, like no matter what. So, I believe that Franchon will win this fight.”
The 31-year-old Marshall will move back up to the 168-pound limit for the opportunity to challenge Crews. Though her last five fights were contested at the middleweight maximum of 160 pounds, Marshall is undefeated in super middleweight matches and stands almost four inches taller than Crews.
“The only thing that plays in Marshall’s favor is her size, but Franchon is also bigger than me,” Shields said. “I think both of them will come in the day after [they weigh in at] 185, 195, and they’ll be some very big girls in the ring. And they’ll show their power that they both possess. It won’t be like [Marshall is] in there with a smaller girl.”
Shields also emphasized that the disparity in the knockout ratios of Marshall (77 percent) and Crews (22 percent) is deceiving.
“Like I said, it was all smoke and mirrors,” Shields said. “Savannah Marshall had fought against 147-pounders, 140-pounders and ballooned ‘em up to 168 or 160, and then knocked ‘em out. These girls had three weeks’ notice, one week’s notice. She was fighting girls who weren’t even prepared and they were coming from a smaller weight class. And she was rehydrating to 195. She was 40, 50 pounds bigger than these girls. And people were wondering why she has all these knockouts. I don’t think it’ll be that way with her versus Franchon.”
Crews-Marshall will be the co-feature of a Sky Sports Box Office Pay-Per-View show July 1. Liverpool’s Liam Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs) and Brighton’s Chris Eubank Jr. (32-3, 23 KOs) will square off in the main event, a 12-round rematch of Smith’s surprising fourth-round, technical-knockout win January 21 at AO Arena.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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