Marshall Boxes Clever On Dual Career Journey

Savannah Marshall is the newly crowned WBO middleweight champion of the world and the 29-year-old is already looking forward to a show-stopping 2021. Simon Rushworth caught up with the former TASS athlete.

TASS: Following a series of false starts this year did it feel as though you were going to have to write off 2020?

Savannah Marshall: It got to the point where I didn’t think I’d fight again this year. I was supposed to fight for a world title in front of a full house at Newcastle Arena in the spring but that was moved twice before it was called off. Then my trainer, Peter Fury, tested positive for Covid-19 a week before I was due to fight again in October. Everything was off and then suddenly it was on again. Peter was given the all-clear and the new fight with Hannah Rankin was arranged within five days. I was still in good shape but if it had been a two-week delay then things might have been different. I had enough time to plan and refocus.

TASS: You defeated Hannah for a 10th straight professional win and secured the vacant WBO middleweight title in the process. After so many delays were you confident you could finish the year on a high?

SM: I’d always felt confident in the build-up. In terms of how I would perform I had no concerns. The only thing I wasn’t confident about was whether the fight would actually go ahead! I told myself that after everything that had happened this year I wouldn’t believe I’d get to fight until I stepped into the ring. But my preparation was perfect. I had a good camp and it was a long camp. I made sure everything came off just as we’d planned it.

TASS: Eight years after you became Britain’s first female amateur world champion do you feel as if you’re finally where you belong?

SM: I just felt as if I’d never ever been given the chance to fulfil my potential. It always looked like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once I was given that chance I was always going to grab it with both hands. For years it felt as if I was swimming against the tide. Confidence was never an issue for me. I always believed I was up there with the world’s best but I was just never given an opportunity to prove it. Eddie Hearn said a star was born after I won the world title last month and people were asking where has this girl come from? I’ve always been here but I’ve finally been given my big chance.

TASS: What does the future hold — or is it impossible to predict anything right now?

Savannah Marshall fighting Danielle Bastieri

SM: I’ve been told I’m probably going to be back out in February or March. I’m just hoping that there will be crowds by then. We’ll have a look at what’s about and what opportunities are available. A lot of the fights that are out there are big, big fights and fights that size need fans. That’s the biggest hurdle. But I’ll go wherever the fight is and wherever the crowds are. I’ve fought all over the world and I’m happy to head off again if needs be.

TASS: Prior to joining the GB programme you received support from TASS. How much of an impact did that support have on your career?

SM: It was incredibly important. I was in college at the time I joined the TASS scheme and my tutors used to let me off classes early to go to Teesside University where I learnt all about strength and conditioning. I still wasn’t driving back then so I’d get the train from Hartlepool. I was taught by a guy called Matt Wright who I’m still in touch with now. He showed me the correct way to lift weights and look after my body and those fundamentals have stayed with me throughout my career. I remember at the start thinking how boring and repetitive it was but I quickly understood the value of what I was being shown. My boxing coaches at the time would comment on my technique when I was in the gym and that technique was honed during my short time as a TASS athlete. When you’re at college and you don’t have much money any kind of support means so much.

TASS: As a rising star of boxing in the late noughties were you able to focus on your academic development?

SM: Education has always been important to me. I’d reached the final year of my foundation degree at Hartlepool College when I joined the GB boxing programme and I had to nip my education in the bud. But I’m back on the same course now and doing a top up year at Teesside University. Boxing isn’t a career for life and that I need to consider other options. Even at 29 I know that I don’t want to be doing this forever.

TASS: You were added to the BBC Radio Five Live commentary team for Katie Taylor’s world title fight — what was that experience like?

SM: I really enjoyed it. I’d done an interview with Radio Five after my own fight and that went well. A few days later I got the call asking if I’d go on air with [BBC Sport boxing correspondent] Mike Costello and [BBC Radio Five Live boxing analyst] Steve Bunce to talk through Katie’s fight. I guess it was such a big fight in women’s boxing that they were looking for a female perspective. It was fun and I’d love to do something like that again.