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Claressa Shields v Savannah Marshall: Silent Assassin’s power will prove decisive

Bump in the road

Championship boxing returns to our screens this weekend following the bump in the road that was Chris Eubank Jnr’s cancelled bout with Conor Benn. That one had the potential to be a fight-of-the-year contender, and fans couldn’t wait to get started. Unfortunately, we’re made to hold out a while longer after issues with The Destroyer’s drug test forced the eventual postponement of the contest.

That’s in the past. Thanks to the quality and health of professional boxing in the United Kingdom, we can look to the future.

Things get moving again this weekend with a female super-fight involving Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London. Four versions of the middleweight world title are on the line here. Who will be crowned queen bee?

Champ unbeaten in 12

Shields travels to the UK capital with a professional record of 12 wins from as many starts, with 10 of those victories courtesy of a points decision. The American fighter hails from Flint in Michigan, where she resides as the current unbeaten and undisputed middleweight champion of the world. Claressa stands head and shoulders above the chasing pack. Will she bag another win on the big stage, attracting thousands of new fans amongst the Great British boxing public?

Only time will tell on that one. But there can be no denying Shields’ reputation proceeds her. Despite entering the ring as the away fighter and with the crowd against her, she will hold the respect of all in attendance. The 27-year-old fights under the nickname T-Rex due to her aggressive, all-action style of hunting down opponents. Shields knows this is the biggest challenge she has ever faced in the ring, but she’s confident of passing with flying colours.

Do boxing bettors share her confidence? The pre-fight betting odds would suggest so, with the Betfair Exchange offering the American as the favourite, although there’s little in it at the time of writing.

Victory for Shields is priced at 2.1 with the odds on another points win 2.26. The KO/TKO has been written off at 12.0, available to those brave enough to go against the betting and champion’s form.

Marshall won’t be beaten

Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s bout, which will be fought out before a capacity crowd at the O2 Arena and followed by millions more thanks to the live TV cameras, Marshall won’t be beaten for form. Much has been made of her opponent’s stunning 12-0-0 record, but Savannah has a near-identical CV.

Her record also stands at 12-0-0, but there’s one difference, the English fighter has managed more stoppage wins, with all but two inside the distance.

Will that 83% KO average be the difference? It’s certainly possible, and with little between the pair in experience, form and character, power could be the deciding factor.

Few female boxers in this division have the power and work rate needed to hold Shields off and even discourage her from marching forward. But natural power and a willingness to win is something The Silent Assassin has in abundance.

We last saw the 31-year-old from County Durham, England, in great shape when halting Femke Hermans at the Newcastle Arena in April. That bout lasted three rounds before the beaten fighter was taken out by a sharp and vicious left hook, a shot that instantly ended the contest. Marshall is 2.12 to continue her winning streak. There’s 4.1 on a points win with another KO sure to attract attention at 4.3.

Close call

There isn’t much between these fighters, and the betting is happy to sit on the fence and let backers decide. Shields is narrow the pre-fight favourite, but that could change on the approach to the first bell. Marshall will enjoy the crowd’s backing, and they will do what they can to ensure she gets as much advantage as possible.

When two fighters are so evenly matched, and the betting market makes it a 50/50 contest, it’s always worth going with the higher price, and that’s what we’ll do here. The English fighter’s power will make the difference, and we’re backing her for a KO/TKO win.

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