Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall’s bitter rivalry could escalate into a multi-fight series as the announcement of their long-awaited fall clash draws nearer, says BOXXER CEO Ben Shalom.
Shalom confirmed last month that the undefeated fighters signed terms to meet in September in an undisputed middleweight world title showdown after arm surgery for WBO Champion Marshall caused the fight to be postponed from its original July date became.
The delay had led to WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight champion Shields threatening to withdraw from the contest when she suggested her opponent was trying to gain “extra time,” but the two remain on course to settling a dispute stemming from Marshall inflicting the Americans’ only amateur-level defeat.
“It will be announced very soon for early September,” Shalom told Sky Sports. “It’s a fight we’ve been waiting for a long time, there’s a lot to get through.
“Two amazing talents, one amazing fight for boxing, not to mention women’s boxing. It’s so interesting, so much a break in style.
“It’s a fascinating fight, there are very few fights that as a fan you really can’t miss. Shields vs. Marshall will be one of them.”
Shalom has hailed the pair’s rivalry as one of the greatest and most unique in women’s boxing, just as their history and the long-term impact on their careers are at stake.
The fan in him would welcome more than one showcase of an intriguing mix of styles, although he admits both aim to make a statement right off the bat.
“I think so [this could be a multi-fight deal]’ Shalom said. “I think first and foremost, both fighters want to engage with each other in the first fight, they don’t want to fool around, they want to do business and they’re not going to think about the rematch.
“But when you have two people like that and such different personalities and styles, you can’t help but think, ‘Is this a trilogy, is this the start of something that we’ve never seen in women’s boxing?’
“Because I don’t think we’ve ever seen a rivalry in women’s boxing stand the test of time. That’s real rivalry, that’s real animosity, that’s Britain vs. USA, personality clashes, clashes of style, it’s got it all, we saw that for the first time in women’s boxing.
“Provided the first fight is incredible, then it will surely happen again. But I know from talking to Claressa and Savannah that the dislike is so great that they want to get along and move on.”
Shields was recently spotted training with ex-UFC champion Henry Cejudo as she targets a third MMA fight following her fight with Marshall. Still, Shalom has no concerns about the two-time Olympic champion’s preparation.
“Claressa has won two gold medals, a multi-weight champion. I think she knows what she’s doing in the boxing ring,” Shalom said. “She’s probably looking for other challenges but that will be her focus, that will be her next fight.
“They are both committed, they both know this is the biggest fight of their careers and this will be a milestone for boxing and whatever Claressa does after that, fair play and good luck to them.
“But I don’t think we need to question Claressa Shields’ preparation. She’s an absolute pro, she’s an absolute machine and she’s still only 27 years old so this will be her moment to really be recognized for what she’s accomplished in the sport.”