Savannah Marshall has insisted that Claressa Shields should want to fight her at full fitness, amid a war of words between the rivals after their undisputed middleweight clash was delayed by an injury to the Brit.
The mega-fight between WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight champion Shields and WBO title-holder Marshall had originally been slated for late July, but the latter undergoing arm surgery means the clash is now expected to take place in early September.
Shields has taken to social media to express her frustration at the delay, but Marshall insists the American should want the bout to take place with both fighters in peak condition.
“She’s tweeting that the fight’s not happening and she’s looking at other opponents,” Marshall told Sky Sports. “Why, for four or five weeks pushback? She’s saying that she’s not putting her career on hold. Five weeks is hardly a gap year, for the magnitude and size of the fight, it’s nothing.
“It boils down to if she really wants the fight, because I know for a fact the excuses that she’s made already are a far cry from someone who is the self-proclaimed greatest of all time.
“If anything, she should want to fight me at my best to prove that she is the best out there.”
Marshall explained that the delay has ultimately been the result of a chain of events that began with her previous outing – a devastating knockout victory over Femke Hermans – being pushed back.
“The surgery was on my arm,” Marshall said. “It was an old injury that needed sorting. I was due to have an operation in March, but unfortunately my fight got pushed back to April, which has had a bit of a knock-on effect with everything.
“The fight with Claressa was due to take place at the back end of July, but I’m not going to be 100 per cent for that, it’s just not possible.
“I don’t want to put myself in the position where I’m not 100 per cent. I need to be 100 per cent to box Claressa and beat her.”
‘Shields’ head has fallen off’
Marshall, who became world champion in 2020 by beating Hannah Rankin, believes Shields’ proclamations on social media are a result of the American’s fear.
“I’ve got a list as long as my arm of allegations that she’s come up with,” Marshall said.
“She comes across dead confident online but I know fine well behind the scenes that her head has fallen off.”
The only loss of Shields’ career – at both professional and amateur level – came against Marshall in 2012, and the Brit took the opportunity to remind her last week on the 10-year anniversary of the bout.
“I don’t really use social media so I just went on to kind of poke the sleeping bear and then I just went off,” Marshall said.
“Since then she’s thrown her toys out the pram and said we’re not fighting and that she’s looking at other opponents, so I think it did the job just a little bit too much.”