The two fighters involved in one of the biggest bouts in women’s boxing history could run it back in a completely different sport following Savannah Marshall’s arrival on the PFL roster.
Undisputed super middleweight boxing champion Marshall was announced as the PFL’s latest big-name signing earlier this week, where she’ll join the new PFLW lineup that already includes her nemesis, two-time Olympic gold medallist and multi-weight world boxing champion Claressa Shields.
The pair met in the ring for Shields’ middleweight titles in October 2022 in a bout that Shields won by unanimous decision. Such was the level of interest leading into the bout, talk of a rematch swiftly followed, but now it seems there could be an alternative route for the two fighters to take to continue their rivalry.
A rematch in the boxing ring is always there as a possibility, but now, with Marshall following Shields into mixed martial arts with the PFL, the door is now open for the pair to face off under MMA rules, inside the PFL SmartCage.
And, perhaps foreshadowing a future meeting between the pair, the PFL had Shields and Marshall face off inside the cage ahead of the PFL Playoffs in New York City.
Marshall, true to her “Silent Assassin” moniker, stood stoically, while Shields, who has two pro PFL bouts under her belt, teased a takedown attempt as she dropped into a crouch, ready to shoot.
And, following their faceoff, the two rivals visited with PFL commentator Sean O’Connell to give their thoughts on a potential MMA clash.
“I love and I hate her at the same time!” Shields laughed as she discussed how their rivalry could continue into MMA. She even suggested that a rematch in MMA would be an even bigger fight globally than their first meeting in boxing.
“Bigger draw, more money, and just making women’s boxing bigger as a whole, and women’s combat sports,” she said.
“I think it’ll be huge. We did two million views in the UK, and six million worldwide. I think if we fought in MMA it’d be like Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather.”
Marshall seemed as enthused about the idea as Shields, saying, “We’ve done it in the ring, and now I want to do it in the SmartCage. And I don’t think any females have done that, and I’m not sure any males have, either. So, look, it’ll be massive.”
When asked if she also thought a rematch in the PFL SmartCage would be bigger than their boxing bout, Marshall agreed with her rival.
“A hundred percent, I believe so,” she said.
“Look, she’s one up in boxing. I’m gonna bring it back, one-all in the cage. Like I said, no one’s done that before. It’s exciting. I’m excited.”
That led to a conversation about how a possible trilogy bout could be decided if Marshall was successful in beating Shields under MMA rules and leveling the series. But a smiling Shields said there wasn’t a sport they could play where Marshall would have the edge.
“Like I told Savannah before, she can’t beat me in boxing, she can’t beat me in basketball, she can’t beat me in football, track, not in MMA – I don’t think she can beat me in anything at this time in life. But, I respect her for always trying!” she grinned.
With both women seemingly keen on the matchup, and the PFL looking to launch their pay-per-view super fight division in 2024, an MMA bout between the pair looks like it’s very much on the table for some point next year.
For Marshall, though, she’s just happy to be a part of something that champions women’s sport.
“This is massive,” she said.
“The PFL are doing huge things for female fighters. And look at the way female sport is going at the minute. We’ve just had the FIFA World Cup, which was huge, and I’m just glad to be a part of such an innovative organization that really backs women.”