Tgoy-four years ago, in August 1998, women’s boxing was still banned in Britain. It wasn’t until the middle of that month that Jane Couch finally became the first woman to be licensed to fight professionally by the British Boxing Board of Control. Cooch was forced to take the board to the Supreme Court, where he won his case, after male administrators tried to convince women that they were emotionally unstable and “weak” to become boxers.

Saturday night in O2 In London, another kind of history will be made, as the first ever British boxing card features 11 bouts and 22 female fighters. America’s Claressa Shields and Britain’s Savannah Marshall will become the first women to compete in a boxing tournament in the U.S.2. Even more powerfully, their fight has elements of an exciting rivalry that could make for some of the most intense and intense rivalries between major male boxers.

Katy Taylor and Amanda Serrano have already earned a potential fight of the year when they put on a fierce, skilful battle while becoming the first women to headline Madison Square Garden in May, and this rivalry could be nearing those heights. . Shields and Marshall both have 12-0 career records and hold all four world middleweight titles between them. The American holds three belts, but the only blemish on his long and distinguished career as a two-time Olympic champion came in 2012, when Marshall beat him at the World Amateur Championships in China.

Shields had just turned 17 and Marshall was less than a week shy of 21St birth The difference in age, height and reach was decisive at the time – even if Shields believed he was unlucky to lose. He tried to make amends, and while the career of Marshall’s promising fans took off after winning this world championship, Shields won a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics and four years later at the Rio Games.

Recognition and titles flowed to Shields in the professional ring, but slowly and then with increasing speed, Marshall built an impressive reputation. He punches with authority and power, and in a contest that deserves to be billed as a 50-50 matchup, Marshall’s supporters believe he can even stop Shields late in a brutal fight. Shields, who bills herself as the greatest female boxer of all time, emphasizes her superiority over Marshall. Many insiders, especially in the US, expect her to topple her British rival in a less dramatic contest.

The enmity and animosity between the two women seems genuine. Shields, who endured a traumatic childhood of abuse and poverty, is in her element when it comes to trash talking. But Marshall, usually shy and reserved, has been almost as terrifying throughout this unusual and lengthy build-up. The fight was scheduled for September 10, but after Queen’s death, it was postponed just one day before they were due to meet in the ring.

Michaela Mayer and Alicia Baumgardner showed off their belts before the fight
Mikaela Mayer (left) and Alicia Baumgardner show off their belts before the fight Photo: Zach Goodwin/PA

There is a similar animosity between Mikaela Mayer and Alicia Baumgardner, two American heavyweights who hold three major titles in their respective divisions. They are leading the charge in what promises to be almost as exciting as the title game. All the fighters on the card had to overcome extremely difficult situations, because five weeks ago they cut weight and reached their peak mentally and physically, they had to repeat the ordeal again.

Far from being the “emotionally unstable” and “weak” women mocked and rejected by British boxing officials, these female fighters are powerful. In contrast, there were depressing scenes in men’s boxing a week ago when Conor Benn failed a drug test, while his promoters shamelessly tried to force his fight with Chris Eubank Jr, despite it being “forbidden”. unlucky board.

Now, in their place at the same location in London, there is a rare opportunity to give a proper platform to the courage and skill of these outstanding women fighters. The prospect of watching Marshall and Shields at work, as well as Mayer, Baumgardner and Olympians Lauren Price, Karris Artingstall and Carolyn DuBois, is more interesting and uplifting than the embarrassing prospect of Eubank Jr. and Benn finally meeting up. located sports-washed in the Middle East.

These inspiring women are ready to uplift the downtrodden and downtrodden sport. Boxing needs them to produce a night as memorable as it will be historic.

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