Claressa Shields contended Tuesday that Savannah Marshall faked her injuries earlier this year to repeatedly postpone a fight she doesn’t truly want.
A skeptical Shields eventually informed Boxxer, the company that promotes Marshall, and Sky Sports that if their showdown wasn’t scheduled for September 10, at the latest, she would walk away from their middleweight title unification bout. Shields is supposed to partake in her third professional mixed martial arts match sometime late in November and if she wasn’t assured she could meet Marshall in a boxing ring by September, she would’ve run out of time for proper MMA training before her November bout.
Shields suspects that, for all her trash talk, Marshall doesn’t believe she is actually capable of beating the undefeated three-division champion. The 27-year-old Shields has long wanted to fight Marshall because Marshall is the only boxer who has beaten her in a professional or amateur bout.
“I feel like she says that she want it, but act like she didn’t want it because she knows that her five minutes is up,” Shields said Tuesday during a conference call. “She knows that all her trash talking, everything that she said is gonna be exposed. But she said my name so much and, you know, talked about me so much, that, you know, when she signed with [Boxxer] – because the fight was almost done with me when she was with Eddie Hearn. We were almost at a deal, but then, all of a sudden, she left Eddie Hearn. And then Eddie Hearn reached out like, ‘Hey, you know, we can have you fight this girl and have you fight that girl. But Savannah Marshall is no longer with us.’ And we were like, ‘That’s the only reason we was talking to you.’
“So, after we found that she was with Boxxer, Boxxer reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, were you guys serious about this fight with Savannah Marshall? Like, that’s the biggest fight that we can make for her and we would love to make it.’ So, when they reached out, and we were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ And they already knew the numbers, and they got everything in order quickly. The only thing that’s been like setting the fight back is, you know, Savannah Marshall with, you know, with her faking her injuries.”
Shields initially thought she and Marshall would fight this Saturday. The two-time Olympic gold medalist then was informed their grudge match would be scheduled for July 30.
Their 10-round, 160-pound championship unification match was finally announced Tuesday for September 10 at O2 Arena in London.
Shields (12-0, 2 KOs), of Flint, Michigan, and Marshall (12-0, 10 KOs), of Hartlepool, England, will headline an all-women’s card that’ll be broadcast by Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and Ireland. ESPN+ will stream Shields-Marshall and its entire undercard in the United States.
“The fight definitely wasn’t gonna happen if it was after September 10th, for sure,” Shields said. “And I made it known to Boxxer and to Sky that they all know how much I wanted this fight, but also I’m a double-sport athlete, you know, a double-combat-sport athlete. So, I’ve already been contractually [scheduled] with this fight in November with the PFL and I have to train for that. You know, and they knew that before I signed with them.
“So, the fight was supposed to be July 9th or July 30th. So, when it started getting pushed back, you know, to September 3rd, September 10th, I said, ‘Listen, if it’s any date after September 10th, I will not be there because I have other obligations and at this point in time MMA is harder than boxing for me. So, I need to put in the time and the work for MMA in order to go out there and do well in November.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.