“In the future women won’t be seen as a supporting act. That was the main message for us: look what women’s boxing can do without any reliance.”
Last December Amanda Serrano predicted 2022 would be “the year for women’s boxing” and the pound-for-pound great was not wrong.
It has been an unprecedented year of success and growth for female fighters as they have headlined major venues for the first time and produced multiple fight of the year contenders, including Shields-Marshall.
But what comes next? We have already got several stellar championship fights lined up before the end of the year including Katie Taylor’s return on 29 October and Chantelle Cameron’s undisputed super-lightweight fight on 5 November, but Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom insists now is not the time to get complacent about the growth of women’s boxing.
“Women’s boxing is now equal to men. We were able to sell out the O2, something the men haven’t been able to do this year,” Shalom said about the Shields-Marshall legacy.
“From a promoter point of view what we try to do is ensure there’s a women’s fight on every single card. Whether there can be quotas that can be introduced for promoters or broadcasters.
“That’s the only way we start to see the sport grow even more is if they know those opportunities are there.
“Ultimately for the women’s sport to grow the broadcasters and promoters need to think long term, sometimes at whatever cost, have women’s fights on the card and show it consistently.”
Shields-Marshall was a thrilling affair, but for the most part relatively easy to score. It was easy, however, to forget it was only 20 minutes of action.
The men’s code is 12 three-minute rounds and Shields-Marshall has raised the question again whether the women’s code should be the same.
Shields dominated large stretches of the 10 two-minute rounds, but the same could not be said for the co-main event between American rivals Alycia Baumgardner and Mikaela Mayer.
The super-lightweight unification fight split fans, with many convinced Mayer came out on the wrong end of a split decision. Might the result have been more conclusive if the fight was longer?
Promoter Shalom immediately called for the introduction of 12 three-minute rounds but Shields suggested baby steps were needed.
“To move women’s boxing forward eventually we will have to fight the same time as the men but right now I think we should go to 12 two-minute rounds because it’s safer,” she said.
“To go from fighting 20 minutes to 30 minutes is dangerous so I think to go to 24 [is better]. Get the women used to fighting 12 rounds first.”
Fights that could be made…
There is no shortage of big fights to be made in the UK and abroad. Should Jonas be successful in her bid to add the IBF title to her collection on 12 November, she could face domestic rival Harper early next year in an all-British undisputed light-middleweight fight.
An all-Australian showdown between Ebanie Bridges and Shannon O’Connell in Leeds on 10 December is also sure to produce fireworks in and out the ring. Bridges, should she win, could accept Watford’s Shannon Courtenay challenge of a rematch. Their first fight in 2021 was an all out slug fest.
Though Baumgardner shut down the idea of rematching Mayer, that appears another obvious fight to make in the future between two bitter rivals.
Not to mention the big rematch in the works – Taylor v Serrano. For the first time a pool of talent is starting to develop in major divisions, with Olympic prospects like Lauren Price and Caroline Dubois en route to challenge for major titles sooner rather than later.
Women’s boxing has no shortage of big fights to come.
“Right now where we’re at, we’re going to keep on building. Maybe the next fight that happens they’ll say it’s the biggest women’s fight ever,” Shields said.
Will there be a Shields v Marshall II?
Much of the talk after Shields-Marshall was about a rematch.
Shields – now the first three-time undisputed boxing world champion – was open to the idea, but insisted it should be in the US.
“If that’s what the fans want I’m down for it and I’ll be more convincing than eight-two, but I was super dominant,” she said.
“People just want to see me fight, and I’ll continue to fight against whoever everyone says is the best.”
Marshall, on the other hand, will have to bounce back from the first defeat of her pro career. The 31-year-old made no excuses for the loss and she remains one of the sport’s most explosive and exciting female fighters.
Don’t forget, Shields ended a nine-fight knockout streak from Marshall on Saturday.
An immediate rematch seems unlikely, but what does seem possible is for both women to move weight.
Shields has already won world titles at super-middleweight and light-middleweight and could return to 154lbs to fight the likes of unified champion Natasha Jonas and WBA champion Terri Harper.
“I wouldn’t mind coming [to the UK] and fighting some of the girls they have, Natasha Jonas at 154lbs, Terri Harper at 154lbs, but I’m not scared to come over here and put on a show,” Shields said.
Marshall too could drop down for an all-British encounter or return to super-middleweight where she won her first title and face undisputed American champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn.
Who wouldn’t want to see Marshall beat Crews-Dezurn – whose only loss was to Shields – and then resume her rivalry with Shields as a new champion?