'Ready to be tested': Savannah Marshall interview
Photos: Christian Petersen/Getty Images & Feng Li/Getty Images
Former world amateur champion Savannah Marshall speaks to Paul Zanon about her pro journey so far, teaming up with Peter Fury and the prospect of facing Claressa Shields...
BM: After a glittering amateur career, you made your professional debut on 26 August 2017 against Sydney Leblanc in Las Vegas on the Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather card. What was it like fighting on a platform of that magnitude and how did the opportunity to fight with Mayweather Promotions happen?
SM: After Rio [Olympics 2016], I’d left and thought that I wasn’t enjoying it [boxing] anymore and didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. Then I got offered a contract with Mayweather Promotions and something just clicked. I’d spent most of my life dedicated to the sport, had every medal apart from the Olympic medal, which was the only one that really meant anything to me in the amateurs [N.B – Marshall won junior and senior ABA honours, not to mention the world championships in 2012]. I thought, ‘You’ve dedicated so much time and effort. Time to give it another go.’ That’s when the penny finally dropped. I’ve got the opportunity to train in America and box on one of the biggest undercards in the century. In terms of fighting in Vegas - it was amazing. Absolutely unbelievable. I think there were 14,000 people just at the weigh-in. It was an experience I’ll never, ever forget.
BM: You're 5-0, but your appearances have been on and off. You had your pro debut then didn’t fight for nine months.
SM: After the first fight, it didn’t work out with Mayweather Promotions, but we ended on very good terms, so I came back to the UK. It took me nine months to find my footing again before I had my next fight [12 May 2018 against Ester Konecna].
BM: You’re now training with Peter Fury. How’s that working out?
SM: Peter originally trained me when I fought in America for my debut. I’d never trained with a pro trainer before and I really liked what he taught me in such a short space of time and we really clicked. When I got back from America, I’d only been back in the country for about two days and I went to see Peter and asked him, ‘Can I come back. Will you train me?’ He said yes and it’s gone on from there really.
BM: What’s Peter Fury added to you as a professional fighter?
SM: He’s changed me, physically, mentally and technically. He’s got me doing things in 2016 I would have never imagined. He’s got me going southpaw and as an international level amateur, he’s got me boxing with my hands down, which is something you’d never even dream of in the amateurs. He’s transformed me. He’s got me to fall in love with the sport again, whereas I was hating it after the 2016 Olympics. It was starting to affect my mental health a little bit to be honest. I wasn’t happy, whereas now I feel like a totally different person.
PZ: Since beating Claressa Shields in the amateurs [pictured left], Claressa has taken the world by storm, becoming the best female in the professional ranks. Is that a fight you’d want?
SM: Definitely. She’s where I need to be. She’s active, she’s pound for pound the best in the world. Our paths will cross! I have no doubt about that.
BM: What did you make of her fight with Hammer?
SM: I thought she boxed brilliantly. It was the best I’d seen Claressa box. I was really impressed. I was disappointed with Hammer though. I don’t know if the occasion got to her or what, but I felt she was too square on, her chin was in the air and she never got going. Hammer is world class and will bounce back from that defeat, but fair play to Claressa. She pulled it out of the bag.
BM: Realistically, how many fights would you want before getting in the ring with her?
SM: Claressa’s overtaken me in experience in the pro ranks and I haven’t been as active as I’d wanted to be. She’s headlining shows in front of thousands of people and boxing the best in the division, where I haven’t really got off the ground yet. Going into the future, I’d like to on those big shows, with the bigger audiences on the bigger occasions, getting used to that pressure, which she’s dealing with really well. Once I’ve got a few of those shows under my belt, I’ll be good to go.
BM: Would the fight be at middleweight or super middle?
SM: I can’t see Claressa coming up to super-middle, but I’d like to win a world title at super middle first and then come down to middle, because I’m not a big 168lbs fighter. The ideal weight for me would be middle. I’ve never had a problem making weight. I’ve boxed since I was 11 and an international fighter since I was 16 and never been one for drinking pop or going out drinking [alcohol]. I have the occasional takeaway, but when I do I feel rotten! I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything, because I’ve never really had it and that’s why making weight hasn’t been a massive issue for me during my time in boxing.
BM: You’re fighting on 25 May at Victoria Warehouse, Trafford Rd, Manchester on a Hughie Fury versus Chris Norad undercard. Looking forward to getting out?
SM: I can’t wait! I’ve been in camp since February. I was supposed to box in March, but that fell through, three days before I was supposed to fight. I haven’t stopped training. When people say I’ve been inactive it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing. I’ve always been up the gym and just been a bit unfortunate with fights not coming off. May 25 I’m back on Channel 5 and really excited.
BM: What can expect from Savannah Marshall in 2019 and beyond?
SM: I want to be very active and get that essential experience, getting the rounds in and boxing higher class opponents. I’m 5-0, but I feel like I’m ready to pass the whole journeyman stage now. I’m ready to be tested.