PROFESSIONAL Fighters League founder Donn Davis has targeted the middle of 2024 for a Claressa Shields v Savannah Marshall rematch in MMA.

Hartlepool-based Marshall signed a multi-year deal with the mixed martial arts promotion in August, joining long-standing American rival Shields – who beat her by unanimous decision in the boxing ring to become undisputed middleweight World champion last year.

Davis believes the PFL has “arguably the best women in combat sport” and that Hartlepool-born Marshall and Shields need time to train in MMA before a fight date is set.

“We have the top three women in boxing (Shields, Marshall and Amanda Serrano), we arguably have the best women in combat sports,” said Davis. “They are both training and when they are both ready it will be great.

“They are both dead serious about being really good in MMA so I don’t think we will see that fight until the middle of next year, or the fall of next year, because it will take them that long to sharpen up the areas they are weak at.

“Both of them are really inspired by the challenge. That big women cross over pay-per-view next year will be on one of Francis Ngannou’s cards in the spring, or the Jake Paul card in the later year.

“My best guess is one of those cards will be in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and the other one somewhere else, hopefully in Europe.”

Undisputed Shields, who boasts an unbeaten professional boxing record of 14-0-0, lost in her second MMA appearance to Abby Montes by split decision in 2021.

And Davis believes the Michigan fighter has gained motivation from her setback in the PFL smart cage and that the idea of seeing a boxer in a “vulnerable” setting is what makes the potential match-up so special.

“She had two fights, lost one of them but she learnt a lot from that because she lost to somebody who is not top 50 in the world,” Davis added. “As Claressa said, it was humbling for her because she hadn’t lost a round for five years and then she loses to a fighter who’s not top 50.

"That made her work harder, even in boxing and she credits that defeat to her becoming a better athlete. I think it will be big, people like to see fighters at the top of their sport who can also be vulnerable.”

Former UFC fighter Ngannou, who joined the PFL in May, faces Tyson Fury in a 10-round heavyweight boxing fight on October 28 and Davis believes he is inspired by the challenge.

He said: “Francis Ngannou is not scared two weeks out for Tyson Fury, he is inspired by the challenge. He knows the odds are five to one against him, he’s not fearful of that. He’s inspired to prove to himself and to show what he’s capable of in boxing.”