Savannah Marshall signed with PFL for Claressa Shields rematch: ‘The goal is to make a build-up’

It’s no coincidence Savannah Marshall ended in the same MMA promotion as boxing rival Claressa Shields.

In October 2022, Shields defeated Marshall in the ring. But in a cage, it remains to be seen who would remain supreme. If all goes according to plan, fight fans should expect the rematch to take place under the PFL banner. In fact, that’s the driving factor as to why Marshall is transitioning to MMA.

“That’s the goal,” Marshall recently told MMA Junkie. “The goal isn’t really fighting me in a league or anything like that. The goal is to make a build-up and essentially have a fight with Claressa in the cage.”

Marshall, 32, said she was approached by PFL following the boxing match with Sheilds at O2 Arena in London. Shields had already made the jump, but the idea of evening things up was too good to pass up – particularly as Marshall had already experimented with going down the MMA path.

“In 2013, I walked into an MMA gym and wanted to give it a go because I just seen that MMA was really taking off, especially for women. I did about one or two sessions and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is too much for me to grasp.’ So I kind of turned my back on it then. In the lockdown again, I just saw there was a lot of opportunities happening for women in MMA. So I had a couple of sessions with Molly McCann, who was with the UFC. Then, boxing took off on me and I shut the door on it again.”

Marshall makes her MMA debut on June 8 at 2024 PFL Europe 2 in Newcastle, England, against Mirela Vargas (1-2). While she’s taking it step by step, the end goal is obvious. Each fight that leads up to her potential showdown with Shields serves as an opportunity to hype the matchup.

Despite their competitive rivalry, Marshall said Shields gave her some pointers prior to her PFL signing. Initially, Marshall didn’t wrap her head around them. Now, she does.

“We’re not friends,” Marshall said. “We acknowledge each other and I’ve seen her just when I signed the contract before I’d done any MMA training. She kind of pulled me aside and said this, this, this, and this. Then obviously, once I did the MMA training, I went to her last fight in Saudi and said, ‘When I looked back it, I totally get what you’re trying to say.’ Because look, I thought I underestimated it massively. I thought it would’ve been like I’m the undisputed champion and I’m going to walk into this and that’s that. Clearly, it’s not like that at all. I’ve really underestimated the sport of MMA.”

Marshall’s climb through the MMA ranks won’t be without boxing matches in between. PFL’s flexibility in allowing her to do both was a major factor in her signing. Marshall appreciates the ability to weigh her options at each turn.

“This is where the PFL have been really good with me,” Marshall said. “They know that boxing comes first. Really, it came at a brilliant time. … If the PFL wasn’t there, I would’ve been sat about waiting for a fight. So really, I’m looking at the PFL. It’s keeping me active. It’s not a boxing fight, but I’m still training. I’m still in a camp. The emotions of fight week are still happening.

“But I’m just going to get June 8 out the way and then see. I might get in the cage and be absolutely terrible and think, “Jesus, that’s not for me.’ I might get in there and absolutely enjoy it and just think, ‘God, I want a bit more of that.’ I’m just going to see how June 8 goes first.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie