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Claressa Shields believes Savannah Marshall will fold under the pressure of their undisputed title fight, and she’ll be back in MMA before year’s end.
Shields and Marshall have had a long-standing bitter rivalry that will finally come to a head at The O2 arena in London on September 9 in a middleweight title clash which could crown the best women’s boxer in the world. And Shields is so confident that she will defeat the Brit on home soil that she’s already eyeing up a return to MMA in the PFL.
No date has been confirmed for Shields’ next outing under the promotion’s banner, but she has played a central role in promoting their events in recent months. Yesterday, she and Anthony Pettis along with other PFL officials and fighters rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, with a poster of her adorning the walls of the historic building.
But she insists that she is laser-focused on her massive British meeting with Marshall, which is being billed as one of the biggest fights in the history of women’s boxing. Shields was narrowly beaten in their first amateur meeting, but went on to Olympic gold and multiple-weight undisputed professional titles.
“Me and Savannah Marshall at The O2 arena is a huge, huge fight,” she told Mirror Fighting . “But I’m going to get back in the smart cage – I have a lot going on, a lot. I don’t know my opponents yet, because I’m just focused on one right now. They’re just giving me the time to focus on my third undisputed match so we can focus on that win and then I’ll get back in the PFL cage.”
Marshall and Shields had been going back-and-forth all year before a deal was finally agreed that will see both women earn record paydays for their clash. And unlike similar legacy fights such as Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, there is a legitimate disdain between the pair that has come out on multiple occasions.
“It’s already been heated up,” Shields continued. “She knows I don’t like her. But the thing is that it’s not just that I don’t like her – I’m a better fighter than her.
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“This training camp has been hard as always, I’ve been better than what I was yesterday and she’s been quiet as a mouse. Hopefully she’s training and she’s getting ready because it’s going to be one of those fights where I have to really put the foot down and she’s going to het hurt, she’s going to get discouraged and we’re going to see where her heart’s at.”
Generally fights of this magnitude have tended to result in big-money rematches, particularly if they are close encounters that go to the scorecards. But Shields is confident that the manner of her win will be enough to dissuade the Brit from wanting to do it again.
“This is not my first rodeo,” she explained. “I’ve fought for undisputed twice and no girl has ever wanted a rematch with me because I blew them all out. Maybe if I blow her out her heart will be broke and she will want redemption and a rematch. But it’s not going to be one of those ‘rock-em-sock-em’ kind of fights. I’m going to go in there and steamroll Savannah Marshall.”
The PFL play-offs take place on Friday night live from New York’s Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, with Scottish fighter Stevie Ray facing Anthony Pettis on Channel 4 at midnight.