In the lead up to her blockbuster fight with Claressa Shields, Savannah Marshall is looking back on her start in the pro game, including an unlikely sparring partner.
Following back-to-back Olympic disappointments as an amateur, it was perhaps surprising that Marshall found herself with a slot on one of the biggest fight cards of the decade – Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor. Seeing promise in the Hartlepool fighter, Mayweather had been quick to sign her to his promotional company as a professional.
She told Sky Sports that, contrary to being ready for the Vegas fight, she had never set foot in a pro boxing gym.
“Before I flew out to Vegas for my debut, I was on the phone to Sam Jones and I said ‘I’ve never actually been in a pro gym’. He said, ‘I’m looking after Joe Joyce at the minute and he’s sparring Hughie Fury in Bolton and his dad Peter has said you’re more than welcome to come down and he’ll show you bits and bobs and help get you started for your debut’.”
Thus sparked a trainer – fighter relationship that’s been blossoming ever since. Marshall goes on to talk about her first meeting with her future coach, and her first pro sparring partner.
“I didn’t know anything about Peter, I knew he was Tyson’s uncle and knew that Tyson had become heavyweight champion, that’s all I knew. I went down to meet Peter and he was really nice and welcoming.”
“I remember him saying ‘do you want to spar?’, I said ‘ahh yeah go on then’. Tommy Fury was there and I remember Peter saying ‘you do not lay a glove on her, do not touch her, I want you working on defence’.”
How did it go? It was an eye-opener for the now WBO Champion.
“I put my gloves on and thought ‘I’m going to batter you’ but I could not lay a glove on him, that was my introduction to pro boxing.”
Peter Fury is known as a straight-talking, no-nonsense trainer, and elsewhere in the interview, Marshall reveals that he’s had her best interests at heart ever since that first meeting.
“During that camp, Peter the philosopher that he is every now again would say ‘you just watch yourself in America, because this pro boxing is not what you think you know’. Every now and again he’d drop it again – ‘this pro boxing is a dirty business you know?’. Even back then he was prepping me going ‘it’s not all Lamborghinis’ and it wasn’t.”
Marshall (12 – 0, 10 KOs) has been open about her consideration to walk away from boxing entirely after being on the wrong end of a controversial decision at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It appears that, with Peter Fury’s guidance, she found a new love for the sport in that Bolton gym.
She faces Claressa Shields on September 10 at the O2 Arena in London, with UK viewers being able to tune in via Sky Sports. The grudge match will see an undisputed middleweight champion crowned.