Face-to-face for the promotional photoshoot, and the fight between Briton Savannah Marshall and American Claressa Shields has already begun.
“I have a lot of confidence,” Shields quipped as the camera flashed, “I came here, I came to America.”
“No power though,” Marshall retorted.
The two women, whose bitter rivalry dates back 10 years, will face off for the undisputed middleweight championship on Saturday in London on a historic night for women’s boxing, marking the first-ever all-female card in the UK, as well that the first time two women will be headlining at the O2 Arena.
It’s the latest milestone in a historic year for the sport in which Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano became the first women to headline Madison Square Gardens in May.
Women’s boxing was banned in the UK as recently as 1998, and the rivalry between Marshall and Shields covers almost half of the time the sport has been legal.
It started at the 2012 AIBA World Championship when Marshall emerged victorious on points, 14-8, handing Shields the only defeat she had ever suffered in her professional or amateur career.
Marshall won that world championship a few days later, while Shields, then 17, won the Olympics a few months later.
As two opposites, both in terms of fighting styles and personality – Shields is outspoken and fights with finesse while Marshall is more shy and relies on power – they have always clashed.
“It’s a love-hate relationship,” Shields told CNN’s Amanda Davies.
“I’m glad to finally have the chance to show him that you may have won the fight in 2012, but you won’t win the war. It’s a war, you know what I mean. She’s going to lose this Saturday and then all these talks of the last 10 years will disappear, they will disappear because it’s the only thing she has to live for.
Since that fight in 2012, Shields has built her reputation as one of the greatest female fighters of all time – going undefeated, winning two Olympic gold medals and becoming the only female boxer in history to hold all four major world titles simultaneously. in two weight classes.
“I’m not [using that fight as motivation]”, Shields added. “I’m not a person who cares about something that happened 10 years ago.
“It doesn’t matter to me, but what I do know is that I’ve gotten better over the years, and I’ve challenged myself to be better after every fight… So I don’t I’ve never been able to live off a win or actually embrace a win Or anything You just win and move on.
Marshall, meanwhile, was knocked out of the preliminary rounds of the London and Rio Olympics, suffered from social anxiety and considered retiring from boxing before turning professional in 2017 and building her own towering reputation. .
Marshall and Shields enter this fight with a 12-0 record, the former as the WBO titlist and the latter as the unified WBC, WBA and IBF 160lbs champion.
“It was a long time ago, 10 years ago, it doesn’t mean anything, but like I said before it got under his skin, it annoys him so of course I’m going to talk about it” , Marshall told Sky Sports.
“I know everything I need to know about Claressa, I’ve known her for a long time, watched a lot of her fights, it was just about staying alert and reviewing the game plan a bit more.”
They will take their ring walks at 9:40 p.m. on Saturday, following the world super featherweight title unification clash between Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner.