Shields reigns supreme over Marshall in epic undisputed clash
Claressa Shields out-pointed Savannah Marshall in an epic clash to reign supreme as undisputed middleweight world champion as their long-time rivalry reached a thrilling finale.
The American star showcased scorching speed and supreme skills while defeating Marshall by unanimous decision with scores of 96-94, 96-94 and 97-93.
It was fast, furious and everything an electrifying O2 Arena had hoped for, with Shields igniting the action with a rapid-fire combination to shed early blood on the face of Marshall, who responded immediately by backing the American into the corner with her sheer power.
The UK favourite enjoyed the better of the action in a frantic second, catching her opponent with thumping right before appearing to goad Shields as the pair continued to trade blows.
A perfectly-timed Shields jab would be met with a thumping Marshall hook in a contest that looked like it could reach boiling point at any moment.
The third saw Marshall back Shields against the ropes to galvanise an antsy, anxious crowd before the pair quite fittingly closed out the round with simultaneous shots to the cheek.
A red-faced Marshall persisted to apply the pressure against an uncomfortable Shields, whose hand speed continued to get her out of trouble in the corner of the ring time after time.
Marshall was suddenly rocked with a clinical right hand in the final moments of the round to quieten the British crowd.
As Marshall thought she had found an uppercut opening Shields was able to counter with a slick left hook before the pair exchanged near-identical bruising hooks to prompt a smile from Peter Fury at ringside at the sight of an epic.
The action did not slow and as Shields appeared to retreat into the corner Marshall pounced on a moment of weakness with a brutal right hand in front of her team.
Shields reminded of her own threat by squeezing through a slick jab in reply but Marshall proved capable of absorbing all thrown her way. By now the fight had soared by such was the ferocity at which both had approached it, conditioning beginning to play a part and Marshall’s power getting through with consistency.
Shields poked out her tongue defiantly, despite the mounting pressure from Marshall, who slapped her gloves together as she searched for a single telling punch.
The fight finished as it had started, both women unloading vicious combinations in one final assault, but Shields emerged victorious as she added the WBO title to her WBC, IBF and WBA belts.