In the diverse realm of combat sports, Savannah Marshall has earned her esteemed reputation as an undisputed boxing champion. After achieving unparalleled success in the boxing ring, highlighted by her victory over Franchon Crews-Dezurn for the undisputed super-middleweight title, she has now chosen to venture into the domain of mixed martial arts. Marshall’s move from boxing to MMA is more than just a switch of arenas—it’s a testament to her relentless pursuit of excellence and the embodiment of the evolving dynamics in combat sports.
The world of combat sports has recently witnessed a remarkable trend of MMA fighters transitioning to boxing. A notable example is Francis Ngannou, whose sensational bout with boxing heavyweight Tyson Fury not only garnered attention but also catalyzed debates among fans and pundits alike. Reflecting on this match, Marshall remarked, “I think it was a shocker. It was a massive shock. I think Tyson massively underestimated him.” Ngannou’s foray into boxing underscores the changing landscape of combat sports and challenges the distinctions between these two disciplines.
Yet, while MMA fighters stepping into the boxing ring is becoming increasingly common, boxers like Marshall venturing into the MMA octagon are rare. Discussing her decision and early experiences in MMA training with Sky Sports, Marshall admitted, “For the first time in a long, long time I feel like an absolute novice.” Her words underscore the vast differences between the two sports. However, it is this very challenge that seems to rejuvenate Marshall, as she further notes, “It’s refreshing. It’s nice, it’s new and I’m enjoying it.”
Marshall’s transition also comes at a time when the boxing arena faces its own set of challenges. With the rise of YouTube boxing overshadowing traditional bouts, there’s an evident shift in the sport’s landscape. Addressing this evolution, Marshall expressed her concerns, “I don’t think boxing’s been left in too good of a light lately.” For her, transitioning to MMA may be a way to reclaim the respect and purity of traditional boxing, while also representing boxers in a new combat arena.
While enthusiastic about her new journey, Marshall remains grounded in her approach. She acknowledges the steep learning curve ahead, stating, “I’m under no illusion that I’m an MMA fighter. I’m not.” Her humility is evident as she recognizes the opportunity presented to her and the significant tasks ahead. “If I can go in there and show that I’m an all-round fighter and I can switch sports, it would be brilliant for me,” she reflects.
To aid in her transition, Marshall has enlisted the guidance of elite MMA talents, including UFC heavyweight sensation Tom Aspinall. Her admiration for Aspinall’s agility and skills is apparent. Describing her observations of his training sessions, Marshall commented, “He’s so fast, he’s so quick. His skillset is unreal.”
In addition to embracing the new challenge of MMA, Marshall hasn’t turned her back on her boxing roots. She continues to heal from a hand injury sustained during her title-winning bout against Crews-Dezurn. Her roadmap includes another boxing match around March, followed by a highly anticipated MMA debut, “I’m looking to have another boxing fight round March time. Nothing’s set in stone but that’s what I’m aiming for, then enter the SmartCage in June, July.”
Furthermore, the shadows of past rivalries linger, notably with American boxer Claressa Shields, who defeated Marshall in a previous boxing bout and has also ventured into MMA. This evolving dynamic hints at a potential renewal of their rivalry, but perhaps this time within the confines of the MMA cage.
Savannah Marshall’s move to MMA is emblematic of the broader shifts within combat sports, a melding of disciplines, and a reflection of the relentless pursuit of athletes to continually test their boundaries. As observers, enthusiasts, and fans, the next chapters of Marshall’s journey promise intrigue, excitement, and a continued redefinition of what it means to be a champion in the world of combat sports.