Marshall vs Rankin: ‘Silent Assassin’ ready to make a big noise

Savannah Marshall: Eager to step up to latest challenge

Savannah Marshall is approaching peak condition for the biggest night of her boxing career and cannot wait for her shot at world-title glory later this month.

The unbeaten Hartlepool star will meet Scotland’s Hannah Rankin for the vacant WBO world middleweight belt on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk v Derek Chisora on Saturday October 31.

Marshall (8-0), who is now 29, knows she will not have an easy night as she bid to take the final step up to boxing royalty.

She said: “I am expecting a tough fight. She’s a solid test. It’s England v Scotland and she will be coming to win.”

Rankin has a 9-4 professional record so far and in November 2018 went the distance with unbeaten American P4P star Claressa Shields at the Kansas Star Arena.

It’s a step up in class for the unbeaten Hartlepool puncher, but one Marshall is preparing diligently for under the watchful eye of master trainer Peter Fury.

“I am doing twice daily sessions in the gym - including sparring 10 hard rounds - and am feeling good now,” she explained.

“I am starting to feel really sharp at just the right time and I can’t wait for fight night.”

Marshall’s date with destiny is the latest in a string of mouthwatering match-ups as women’s boxing has really taken centre stage since the sport returned from its COVID-19 hiatus.

Terri Harper vs Natasha Jonas, Katie Taylor vs Delfine Persoon 2 and Cecilia Braekhus vs Jessica McCaskill are just some of the bouts which have provided thrilling scraps in front of enthralled TV audiences.

And Savannah says the recognition they brought is both no surprise and richly deserved.

“I strongly believe that these female fights were the best fights on the cards, bringing out the best of female boxing and showing how far we have come and what we can achieve in the future.”

When Marshall steps into the ring on October 31 it will be just two days short of a year since she last fought in a victory over Ashleigh Curry, also in Newcastle. But despite the enforced absence she says the ongoing pandemic has not affected her too adversely.

Marshall vs Rankin will feature strongly on a bill to be televised by Sky Sports Boxing in the UK and by streaming platform DAZN in the United States.

But Savannah is well used to the bright lights, having begun her professional career on the undercard of the blockbusting Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Conor McGregor showdown in Las Vegas in August 2017. She admits: “I can definitely say I started from the top! It was an amazing experience all round”.

While Mayweather of course is widely recognised as boxing’s greatest showman, delivering billions of dollars in pay-per-view revenue during a glittering career, Savannah admits she is the polar opposite of ‘Money’, with a ring moniker of ‘The Silent Assassin’.

She is acutely aware that self-promotion helps to sell tickets and attracts TV viewers, but still prefers to do the bulk of her talking inside the ropes.

“Media attention attracts more fans. But you can’t change who you are, and for me that’s being a ‘Silent Assassin’,” she says.

In Peter Fury, Marshall will have a man in her corner on October 31 who is well accustomed to nights like these. Most famously when he masterminded nephew Tyson’s stunning upset of Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.

She said: “Peter is an experienced coach, my confidence has grown whilst being a professional boxer, learning new skills and the tricks of the trade in the pro game.”

As well as that unbeaten professional CV, Savannah also had a top-notch career in the amateurs. That spell in the unpaid ranks included handing the aforementioned Shields the only defeat of her storied career to date.

That came at the 2012 World Championships, and some eight years on a rematch in the future appears almost inevitable. Shields is itching for revenge while Savannah is more laid-back and ready to take the chance when it comes.

“Female boxing is all about opportunities, If and when that opportunity comes it will be something I will consider. Claressa is certainly a character. But she’s building it up for our rematch.”

As for that 2012 success, Savannah doesn’t hold it in any special esteem saying: “For me it was another win, another opponent, another tournament”.

For now though, ‘The Silent Assassin’ knows exactly where her focus should be. And the road starts on October 31.

She simply says: “My long-term goals are to carry on winning, improving and become champion of the world!”

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