SHE has been a lockdown World champion since last October – now Savannah Marshall is looking forward to being able to celebrate her status in front of a capacity hometown crowd on Saturday night.

Marshall will make the second defence of her WBO World middleweight title in front of around 11,000 fans at Newcastle’s Utilita Arena, with unbeaten Zambian Lolita Muzeya hoping to take away her crown.

The Hartlepool Olympian became World champion when she beat Hannah Rankin in a behind-closed-doors contest at Wembley Arena last autumn, and also found herself fighting in an empty arena when she successfully defended her belt against Maria Lindberg in London in April.

On Saturday, she gets to show off her skills in front of an expectant audience as she fights as part of a televised BOXXER bill that also features Hughie Fury and Chris Eubank Jnr as well as North-Easterners April Hunter, Georgia O’Connor and Mark Dickinson, and she cannot wait to experience the thrills and spills of such a high-profile homecoming.

“I became World champion in lockdown, and then I had my first defence in lockdown part three,” said Marshall, who boasts an unblemished 10-0 record, with eight knockdowns, since turning professional. “I’ve never been able to fight as a World champion live, and let me family and friends experience it all with me.

“It’s been a tough camp, a long, hard camp, but I wouldn’t expect anything different really. I’m well prepared for anything Lolita brings, and I’m confident. I’m confident in my skills, and I know I can box on the back foot or come forward. I’m excited for Saturday, really excited.”

Muzeya heads into the fight with a 16-0 record, and while she has never fought outside of her native Africa, the 30-year-old should provide Marshall with a decent challenge.

“I’m expecting a tough fight from Lolita,” said Marshall. “I’d be a fool to overlook anyone. She’s unbeaten, she doesn’t know what it’s like to lose, so I’m expecting her to come with the best version of Lolita.

“People have been talking about what might come next, but that doesn’t really come into play. Lolita is in front of me and Lolita will be there on Saturday night – I can’t overlook Lolita, not at all.”

That said, however, there has already been excited talk of a potential showdown between Marshall and US star Claressa Shields provided Saturday night’s contest goes to plan.

Shields, the WBC, IBF, WBO and WBA World champion at super welterweight, is widely regarded as the best female fighter in the world, but while the 26-year-old American is unbeaten in the professional ranks, her one and only defeat as an amateur came at the hands of Marshall at the World Championships.

If the pair were to meet again, it would arguably be the biggest fight in female boxing history, with Marshall confident it would only end one way.

“Would I beat her (Shields)? One hundred per cent,” she said. “I’ve always been confident in what I can do. I know I can beat Claressa, just like I know I’ll beat Lolita, but knowing it and doing it are two completely different things. Lolita is in my way, so I’ll get shot of her, then we’ll crack on with Claressa.”