BOXING

Savannah Marshall wants rematch with Claressa Shields in PFL: ‘That is the goal for me’

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Savannah Marshall has a clear plan for her MMA career.

Marshall is the undisputed super middleweight champion of women’s boxing, but on Saturday, she trades in her 10-ounce gloves for four-ounce ones when she makes her MMA debut against Mirela Vargas at PFL Europe 2, in Newcastle, England.

On The MMA Hour, Marshall explained how she ended up making the move from the ring to the cage.

“How it came about, it was after my fight with Claressa [Shields] at the O2,” Marshall said. “Obviously she signed with the PFL. They approached me and said, ‘Look, have you ever thought about doing MMA? Would you consider a potential matchup with Claressa in the cage?’ And that was it. I was like, why not? It’s not something I’ve thought about but it got my ears pricked and I’m invested.”

Claressa Shields

“It was never on the bucket list, but when lockdown hit in 2020, I remember seeing MMA fighters getting a lot more opportunities than female boxers were,” Marshall continued later. “So I did a little bit … a couple sessions with Molly McCann and Leah McCourt in Liverpool, and I remember thinking, ‘Nothing is taking off for women boxers, so let’s give it a go.’ Then women’s boxing went through the roof and we were getting all these opportunities and I got a world title opportunity.”

Marshall previously faced Shields in October of 2022 for the undisputed middleweight title. With Marshall’s WBO belt and Shields’ WBA, WBC, IBF, and The Ring titles on the line, Shields won a unanimous decision in a competitive matchup. Shields signed with PFL in 2020 and a rematch inside the cage is Marshall’s primary goal for now.

“They’ve given me a four-fight deal, and I think it’s all about what happens Saturday, to go from there,” Marshall said. “Whether I’ll get the Claressa rematch, whether I don’t. Obviously there’s a lot of politics and things behind it, but that is the goal for me.”

Claressa Shields

Shields has fought three times in the PFL, building a 2-1 record that has left fans wondering if MMA is something the boxing champion should continue to pursue. And while Marshall was equally critical of Shields at first, after putting herself in the same situation, she now has a better appreciation for what Shields is doing.

“To be honest, before I started training myself, I was really critical,” Marshall said. “And then when I started doing it myself, I thought, right, I can see how she’s struggling, [smiles] because the transition from boxing to MMA, it’s a lot harder than what I thought. A lot harder.”

But the time is almost here where Marshall gets to put all the work into practice, and she’s ready for the opportunity.

claressa-shields

“It’s exciting,” Marshall said. “For a long time now, I don’t think I’ve experienced nerves, really, fight week for boxing. So because this is all new, I’m waiting for them to kick in…

“I’ve never been in the cage before. I’ve never walked to the fight in flip-flops before. To me, this is all the unknown.”

PFL Europe 2 takes place Saturday at Utilita Arena in Newcastle, England.

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