Having come to Newcastle from Tanzania with self-assurance in her step and an upset on her mind, Lolita Muzeya exploded out of her corner Saturday evening and brought the fight to the defending WBO world middleweight champion from the get-go. 16-0 with half of those wins occurring inside the distance, Muzeya liked her chances against the heavy-handed Savannah Marshall even if no one else did. “Believe in Lolita,” was the challenger’s rallying cry in the days leading up to fight night.
What Savannah Marshall believed in was exhibiting grace under pressure and returning fire in a calm, cool, collected manner. She had been expecting a war and Muzeya did not disappoint on that account. Because Muzeya works out of a slight crouch, Marshall stood tall and frequently employed the use of heat-seeking uppercuts during the frantic infighting but was also absorbing a good deal of stiff jabs and clubbing right hands from her valiant challenger in the process.
The combatants returned to their respective corners after the first two minutes expired, having already delivered on the promise of a fan-friendly slugfest to the Newcastle faithful. The questions lingering in the air throughout the sixty-second rest period pertained to how long this intensity could possibly be sustained and which fighter would turn the tide in her favor, creating sink or swim conditions for her adversary.
The second verse was the same as the first. Marshall and Muzeya picked right up where they left off one minute prior, settling back into a staccato rhythm wherein they traded note for punishing notes. At right around the halfway mark of round two, it started to become evident that Marshall’s shots to both the head and body were having a telling effect. Muzeya attempted to bully the champion by using her shoulder and elbow to shove Savannah off of her and create distance between the two, but it was Marshall beating her to the punch courtesy of lead lefts, right hooks, and body blows which began to stagger Lolita.
A four-punch combination from Marshall with fewer than twenty seconds remaining in the frame spelled the beginning of the end. A short right uppercut and straight right to the body set up a rapid-fire one/two which spun Muzeya’s head around Linda Blair-style. On now unreliable legs, Lolita relied on heart and muscle memory to battle her way out of the corner she had been backed into but took a hellacious left hook that sent her stumbling in reverse toward the ring strands where Marshall unloaded a hard right to the side of her head followed by a pair of lefts, both of crashed home—first to the liver and then to the temple.
Referee Michael Alexander had seen enough and stepped between the still-swinging champion and her vanquished foe, waving the fight off with a mere two seconds left on the clock. This technical knockout marked the seventh consecutive stoppage for Savannah Marshall. who improved her record to a perfect 11-0 and her KO ratio to an astounding 82% while successfully defending her WBO belt for the second time.
While Marshall has been taking the women’s boxing world by storm, Claressa Shields has kept herself occupied only within the MMA octagon since outpointing Marie-Eve Dicaire in their super-welterweight unification fight this past March. She is plenty busy on social media as well, berating Savannah at every given opportunity. In early September, Shields announced that she had signed a multi-fight contract with Sky Sports which was the first clear indication that serious efforts were afoot to finally stage the momentous return clash between herself and Marshall.
The first bout in her deal with the UK broadcasting company will take place on December 11 in Birmingham. England. Shortly after Marshall had dispatched Lolita Muzeya on Saturday, news broke that she will share the very same bill with her amateur nemesis, heightening the anticipation of a grudge match even further taking for granted they both emerge with their undefeated records and title belts intact.
Next May will be ten years since Savannah Marshall sent Claressa Shields packing from the 2012 World Championships in Qinhuangdao, China—the only defeat she has ever suffered. Wouldn’t that make for a serendipitous occasion, to simultaneously celebrate that anniversary and let them have a go at one another a decade later to unify the world middleweight championship?
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