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Savannah Marshall: WBO middleweight champion fears Covid-19 could delay ring return

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Savannah Marshall celebrates her title win with coach Peter Fury and her backroom team
Savannah Marshall picked apart Hannah Rankin in her WBO middleweight title win last October, forcing a stoppage in the seventh round

WBO middleweight champion Savannah Marshall hopes her proposed return to the ring will not be delayed by the latest coronavirus lockdown.

The Hartlepool fighter, 29, won the title in October with a consummate stoppage win against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin at Wembley Arena.

Now there are hopes of a meeting with two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields, who holds three other belts.

“I just hope there’s not a knock-on effect,” Marshall told BBC Tees.

“I was told I was back out end of March, early April. I don’t want to get pushed back to May or June because that’s another six months.

“In boxing you don’t get any younger, and I’m 29 now, I’m at my peak and you’ve seen it from past fighters, it does affect you.”

If a bout with Shields goes ahead, it will not be their first meeting as Marshall beat the American in their amateur days on the way to World Championship gold in 2012.

“I can do so much better that that”

Fighters such as Ireland’s undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor, Doncaster’s super-featherweight champion Terri Harper and Marshall have kept women’s boxing in the spotlight with impressive performances since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

The reaction to Marshall’s win over Rankin was unanimously positive, with BBC commentator Steve Bunce calling it the best performance by a British female boxer “ever”.

Her coach Peter Fury – father of WBC heavyweight champion Tyson – has described her at the “new superstar” in the middleweight division.

“I’m quite self-critical so when I watched that I thought I could do so much better than that,” Marshall added.

“I mentioned it to my coach Peter [Fury], I said everyone is saying it’s the best performance ever but I know I can do so much better.

“He said ‘I know you can but if I get 80% of you, what I see in the gym, live in that ring in an actual fight then that is good enough for me’.

“I’d never ever thought of it like that because of all the pressures, so he said it was a brilliant performance.”

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