Marshall Becomes Super-Middleweight Champion, Jonas Picks up Welterweight Belt

England’s Savannah Marshall set up a potential rematch with Claressa Shields by outpointing Franchon Crews-Dezurn to become undisputed super-middleweight champion at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night. 

The contest was a battle between two boxers whose only professional defeats had come to Shields – Crews-Dezurn in the pro debut for both women in Las Vegas in 2016, and Marshall in her most recent contest last October – and the “GWOAT” was ringside, loudly cheering on her friend and compatriot. But although Crews-Dezurn showed constant energy and brought continued pressure – and became surely the first boxer to sing her national anthem in the ring before the fight – it was not enough to combat the superior technical skills of the longer, rangier Marshall.

Crews-Dezurn (8-2, 2 KOs) started fast, shading the opening round on activity levels alone as she pursued Marshall across the ring behind an awkward jab, but Marshall (13-1, 10 KOs) soon began to time her opponent’s onrushing attacks, spearing her with jabs from mid-range and landing right hands as Crews-Dezurn charged forward. It was a consistently gruelling contest, and by the seventh and eighth frames of the scheduled ten-rounder, Marshall’s form showed signs of deteriorating as Crews-Dezurn briefly threatened a comeback. But Marshall found a second wind in the ninth, landing a short combination inside and bloodying her opponent’s nose.

Although one judge scored the fight a 95-95 draw, the other two saw it for Marshall by scores of 97-93 and 99-92.

In the co-main, 2020 Olympic silver medallist Ben Whittaker remained undefeated with an eighth round stoppage of overmatched Vladimir Belujsky in a light-heavyweight contest. Whittaker (4-0, 3 KOs) started brightly, catching his more experienced opponent with several clean blows before electing to spend 20 seconds showboating instead of pressing his advantage; he scored the bout’s only knockdown in the third as Belujsky tumbled and attempted to hold on after taking a series of right hands. Thereafter, the bout settled into a rhythm of Whittaker landing a succession of blows to head and body from mid-range whle Belujsky (13-7-1, 9 KOs) offered little in return, but proved obdurate in defense; the contest seemed destined to reach the scorecards until a Whitaker flurry caught the Slovakian cleanly and prompted referee Mark Lyson to intervene at 1:49 of the eighth,  despite Belujsky’s objections.

Natasha Jonas continued her hot streak, picking up her fourth world title belt in four fights, as the unified 154 pound titlist stepped down in weight to wrest the IBF welterweight belt via a one-sided beating of Kandi Wyatt. Liverpool’s Jonas (14-2-1, 9 KOs) looked as if she might score an early knockout as she rocked Canada’s Wyatt (11-5, 3 KOs) in the first round, but elected to pace herself and instead gradually turned up the pressure over the ensuing rounds, constantly beating Wyatt to the punch and proving far too quick and skilled for her opponent until referee Marcus McDonnell stepped in to halt the action in the eighth round of a scheduled ten.