SAVANNAH Marshall has never been one for wasting words. Her nickname, after all, is the Silent Assassin.

You know, then, that when she suggests tonight could be the last time she steps between the ropes it's not hype or bluster.

It's not that Marshall has an eye on retirement. Anything but. But in the eyes of the honest Hartlepudlian, if she can't beat Franchon Crews-Dezurn, "what am I doing in the sport?".

Such are the standards set by Savannah. The American visitor touched down on UK soil with the four super-middleweight belts that are on the line at the Manchester AO Arena tonight and with a ring CV that has seen her lose only once - on her debut - to Claressa Shields. As Marshall knows, there's absolutely no shame in that.

Crews-Dezurn is a singer, fashion designer and promoter as well as being a four-belt champion but it's Marshall who's the star attraction tonight. In the words of promoter Ben Shalom, "she's now one of the most recognised faces in women's sport and has captured the hearts of a nation".

The Northern Echo: Hartlepool's Savannah Marshall

That's why he had absolutely no doubts about making Crews-Dezurn vs Marshall the main event when the Liam Smith vs Chris Eubank Jnr rematch fell through.

There'll be more than 8,500 in attendance, plenty with Hartlepool accents.

"There was a time very early in my pro career when I had to sell 50 tickets for a show and I remember putting it on Facebook I don't have 50 friends," laughs Marshall.

"I've come a long way."

She has indeed. Marshall admits that since the huge clash with Shields last time out, life has changed. She's recognised in the street, and while the 32-year-old will never ever be the type to court fame, she appreciates the support from fans. It's an indicator of the huge progression in women's boxing, in which Marshall has been a leading light.

She's already achieved so much, which has led to some suggestions that she might not be as hungry as she once was. In short, that's a load of a rubbish.

"I don't know where all that's come from," she says.

"Nobody knows me and how hard I'm training and what I go through. If I didn't want to be here I wouldn't be here, that's the way I am."

Trainer Peter Fury agrees. Despite defeat to Shields last time out, Marshall left the ring with her head held high after a quite brilliant fight. And she's responded well since, says Fury.

“We’ve had a great camp and worked on a lot of stuff she couldn’t get right last time and I’m happy with the improvements," he says.

“We’ve corrected what I saw as the flaws and ironed the creases out. That’s what you do in camp, get better.

“We’re happy to be back, she’s an improved fighter and I’m looking forward to seeing the improvement under the lights."

Middlesbrough heavyweight Will Howe, who shares a gym with Marshall, has seen up-close her build-up.

"She's put herself through two and a half months of hell, nobody is doing that for the thrill of it," he says.

"She wouldn't be sat on that stage if the hunger wasn't there. She probably wants Claressa again after this fight, obviously that's a massive fight again, but she has to get through this first. This is a huge fight."

It is indeed. And for all Marshall knows that the build-up and the hype is part and parcel of life at the top, she's truly at home in the ring when the first bell goes.

"I can't wait," she says.

"I have another crack at being undisputed champion. For me, this is brilliant.

"It really is (do or die) for me. If I can't get through Franchon Crews, what am I doing in the sport? There's not that many women at this higher level. I got beat off Claressa so if I got beat off Franchon, where else is there for me to go?

"To win this would mean everything. I'm getting a chance to get all the belts again, I will probably never get this chance again so I have to leave it all in there."

Marshall has stepped up from middleweight to super-middleweight and feels comfortable. 

"I'm looking in the mirror thinking how did I ever make middle," she says.

"I feel really strong."


It might well be an ugly fight. Crews-Dezurn will undoubtedly try to use her strength to get on the chest of Marshall and prevent the Teessider from fighting at range. Marshall, though, is prepared for whatever comes her way.

"In 12 weeks of training, that's all I've had, people coming to wrestle, spoil, sit on my chest. That is what she is going to do.

"Every fight she's had she's done that. Every fight. But we're prepared for that and we're ready 100%."

Crews-Dezurn isn't short of confidence but it would be an upset if she was to win tonight and keep the jewels. 

Marshall is big favourite and the chances are that come the final bell - if it goes that far - she'll be talking about the fights, challenges and huge nights ahead rather than reflecting on her career in past tense.