Savannah Marshall is the new undisputed super-middleweight champion of the world and potentially on collision course once again with arch-rival Claressa Shields following a victory over Franchon Crews-Dezurn in Manchester, England tonight.
The frenetic fight went ten rounds at a fast pace and was hard-fought throughout, with both boxers wearing the marks of battle afterwards. While Marshall seemed a certain winner when the final bell rang, a strange 95-95 scorecard from one judge turned the result into a majority decision rather than the unanimous decision onlookers had expected.
“She (Crews-Dezurn) is a tough, tough woman. I thought she came on stronger, some of the rounds were close but I felt landed the better shots,” said Marshall.
Shields was ringside for the fight and had some choice comments for Marshall afterwards as she seemed to agree to another showdown in the future.
“I will fight her at whatever weight she wants to fight at,” Shields said. “She is going to get beat up… that’s what is going to happen.
“[I saw] a lot of weaknesses and she didn’t learn from her last fight. I agreed with the first judge who had it 95-95. The fight was close – I expected a better performance from both girls.”
Crews-Dezurn tried to keep the fight at close range to negate Marshall’s reach and power, which made for a frequently scrappy encounter. Marshall’s power shots took their toll when they did land, which only encouraged Crews-Dezurn to maintain her short-range approach.
Another perfect performance from Ben Whittaker showcased why the Wolverhampton man is a megastar in the making as he made entertaining work of cruising past the game but outgunned Vladimir Beljusky before eventually stopping him in the eighth round.
Whittaker holds ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed as one of his boxing icons and emulates his hero’s style in the ring, showboating repeatedly on his way to victory as a way of demonstrating the superiority of his skills versus the opponents placed in front of him.
Whittaker has made no secret of his intent to fast-track himself to world title contention. Still, tonight was only the 2020 Olympics silver medallist’s fourth professional fight and the eight rounds it went were valuable experience in a young pro career.
It’s too early for the light-heavyweight to start naming names when it comes to his next opponent, but all the signs are that he’s on track to fight the biggest names in the world in the course of his career.
Natasha Jonas continued her record-setting career tonight, becoming the first-ever two-weight world champion from the city of Liverpool as she added the IBF World Welterweight Championship to her collection in Manchester.
Canada’s Kandi Wyatt put in a gutsy performance but was outclassed almost from the opening bell as Jonas, 39, put on a clinic to remind the women’s boxing world that she remains a top-tier competitor with her eyes on the top prizes in the sport.
Halfway into the eighth round the referee had seen enough, stepping into stop Wyatt taking any more punishment from the surging Jonas, who is also the holder of the WBC, WBO and IBF light-middleweight championship titles.
“I can’t sum that up. Thank you to everyone who spent their hard earned money to be here,” she said post-fight.
Jonas now has a range of big options for her next outing and has been linked with Chantelle Cameron and Jessica McCaskill, but in the immediate term will be taking a month-long family holiday as she weighs her next options.
Mark Jeffers stepped up on two weeks’ notice to seize the career opportunity of a lifetime and face rising super-middleweight Zak Chelli when Chelli’s original opponent Mark Heffron was forced to pull out with an injury.
Jeffers having already been in training, he was fighting fit and ready to seize his chance with both hands, which he duly did over the course of ten hard-fought rounds with Chelli, who also deserves credit for accepting a fighter as risky as Jeffers on such short notice.
Fast flurries and forward pressure set the tone early on and Chelli never quite seemed to find his comfortable range as Jeffers controlled considerable portions of the fight. The unanimous decision Jeffers’ way – 97-94, 97-93 and 97-94 –
was a surprise to nobody in the arena, except Chelli’s corner team.
Despite the big upset win on short notice, Jeffers wasn’t happy with his victory.
“You don’t understand how much better than that I am,” he shrugged. “But tonight was just about winning.”
Callum Simpson had a real battle with Boris Crighton over ten tough rounds before securing a unanimous decision win.
“It was 10 solid rounds that I needed. A lot of questions had been asked, but I felt good in there. I did the 10 rounds comfortably – I’m looking for titles next!” he said, after scoring 99-92, 97-93, 99-91 on the judges’ cards.
Crighton was game and caused Simpson some problems at times, particularly with a shot in the final round which landed heavily and required Simpson to shake it off, but for the most part Simpson controlled the bout, with Crighton an enthusiastic dance partner.
Several times in the bout Simpson had Crighton hurt but couldn’t put him away, testament to Crighton’s toughness. But Simpson’s style shone throughout and now he’s looking for a headline bout in his native Barnsley, which sent a huge traveling army of support to cheer him on tonight.
April Hunter opened the evening’s event with a close-fought unanimous decision revenge over Kirstie Bavington, who had spoiled Hunter’s BOXXER debut back in 2021 with an upset decision win in Hunter’s native Newcastle.
Considerable heat was thrown back and forth in the build-up to the rematch and the pace continued in the fight itself, with neither willing to take a backwards step against her rival. A big knockdown in the seventh round sealed the deal for Hunter.