There’s unfinished business in the world of women’s boxing, and it will finally be settled in a historic doubleheader this Saturday at The O2 Arena.
In the main event, two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields, the WBC/WBA/IBF/Ring Magazine middleweight champion, will face longtime rival and WBO titleholder Savannah Marshall. In the co-feature, WBO/IBF/Ring Magazine champion Mikaela Mayer and WBC champion Alycia Baumgardner will clash in a junior lightweight title unification fight.
Shields-Marshall and Mayer-Baumgardner will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. at 2:30 p.m. ET / 11:30 a.m. PT on ESPN+.
This is what the fighters had to say at Thursday’s press conference.
• Claressa Shields:
“When you work hard and you put in extra work—that’s what builds confidence. People have fake confidence when they don’t work hard and just show up to sell the fight. But I know what I’m capable of, and I know what I’m going to do on Saturday night.”
“Of course, we’ve got to talk about her punching power. She’s going to try to come out there and land a big shot. She may want to fight on the inside or on the outside. But she just wants to be able to touch me and land. That’s really all I see. But it’s a boxing match. I may get hit in there, but if she thinks she won’t get hit, then she’s mistaken. If she thinks she is a better boxer than me, she’s mistaken. But we’re going to let her think whatever she wants to think and do whatever she wants to do because I’m going to adapt and do whatever I have to do to win and make the fight easy.”
“I’m not worried about Savannah Marshall. I came over here. I’m a star in America. Don’t get it twisted. I didn’t have to come over here. Nobody was ever running from her. Nobody was ever scared to come over here and fight her. We said, ‘Let’s do it.’ And you better punch as hard as you say you can. Because if you don’t have any punching power, it’s going to be a hard night for you.”
• Savannah Marshall:
“I think she will come up short. I believe I’m a better boxer than Claressa. I believe I have always been. I cannot wait. Saturday couldn’t come quick enough. We had a 12-week camp and a five-week pushback. I’m just itching to get in there now.”
“She can try to knock me out. But if you’ve got it, then you’ve got it. If you haven’t got it, then you haven’t. It is what it is. Why is it hard for you to knock someone out? If you land on someone, then you hurt them. If you land on them and you’ve got pillow fists, then they’re not going to go anywhere.”
“There’s nothing left to say. I can’t wait for Saturday. Let’s get it on.”
• Mikaela Mayer:
“This is huge for me. I’ve said that I wanted to become undisputed. There’s a reason why I’ve called out Alycia and why I’ve called out all the champions. I think that I have been pushing for the biggest fights possible. But honestly, I don’t think you could have put a card like this five years ago. It’s really shown how far women’s boxing has come.”
“Everything has been very strategic. That’s how I’ve been trained by Coach Al. We go in there with a cool head and execute what we’ve been working on in the gym. He hates all this. He’s sitting here shaking his head at this whole thing. He wants to get to the gym. We have to go to the gym after this, and that’s what he’s focused on. My team keeps me cool. The keep me calm and focused on the goal.”
“I’m expecting to deliver the performance of my life. Contrary to what she’s saying, I am constantly getting better. I still don’t even feel like I’ve hit my peak. I want to put it all together in this fight. I want to embarrass her. I want to make her sound stupid because she said a lot leading up to this fight.”
• Alycia Baumgardner:
“This fight is amazing for women’s boxing. This is what we’ve been waiting to have. The entertainment is at an all-time high. This is what is building the sport. This is what is building the sport of women’s boxing. And now you have two women who don’t care for each other and who are ready to bang it out Saturday night.”
“My confidence is triggered by her. As I mentioned before, everyone who has fought her has come to fight her and go back home. She has a fighter in front of her who is willing to fight her, who is telling her what it is, that I will beat her, that I will break her jaw. Whatever it is, I am in her face. She does not like it. So, this is confidence that we are dealing with. It’s not really an anger standpoint. I’m a competitor at heart. I’ve been doing this since I was an eight-year-old girl. I’m excited to be at this stage and to be in a unification fight this Saturday night.”
“There’s no respect. At the end of the day, this is the fight game. This girl is trying to beat me. I’m trying to beat here. I have great sportsmanship, but I don’t respect her. She talks too much. And when somebody talks too much, you’ve got to shut them up, and that’s what I’m going to do on Saturday night.”
• Todd duBoef:
“The 2012 Olympics in London did something for women’s boxing here. It was amazing. It rose way above the rest of the world. To come back here and extend that, and then bring the U.S. stars here—that’s going to elevate the whole sport globally.”
“They’re both pros, and they want to get Saturday night on. They wanted to fight. And I think they are able to communicate really well that there’s bitterness. And it’s real. And that’s what this sport is. It’s real.”
Credit: Top Rank Boxing