Savannah Marshall knew for sure after ten rounds that she was set to reclaim championship status.
The two-time Olympian and former WBO middleweight titlist had to wait out a strangely scored majority decision before she was able to lay claim to the undisputed super middleweight championship. A score of 95-95 was overruled by cards of 99-92 and 97-93 as Marshall dethroned Baltimore’s Franchon-Crews Dezurn in their Sky Sports/ESPN+ main event Saturday evening from AO Arena in Manchester, England.
The multi-talented Crews-Dezurn performed her own in-ring rendition of the U.S. National Anthem before she proceeded with her fourth attempted defense of at least one title.
Both fighters entered the championship clash having only lost to three-division champ and two-time Olympic Gold medalist Claressa Shields. That moment came in the last ring appearance for Marshall, who dropped a ten-round decision to the pound-for-pound queen in their terrific undisputed middleweight championship last October 15 at The O2 Arena.
Marshall was able to cut off the ring and land her left hook early in the fight. Crews-Dezurn—who lost to Shields when both made their pro debut in November 2016—didn’t come to run but found herself in reactionary mode when Marshall scored with her power shots at close quarters.
Crews-Dezurn boxed smarter in round two. The defending champion jabbed her way inside and followed with right hands. Marshall landed the most telling blow of the round, a right hand that Crews-Dezurn braced for but was still unable to avoid as she took it clean on her chin.
Both boxers were wide with right hands early in round three. Crews-Dezurn returned to her jab while Marshall landed a right hand before they tangled and spilled to the canvas.
Crews-Dezurn landed a jab but was off the mark with an overhand right in round four. Her forward motion was enough to force Marshall to fall after an attempted clinch, though correctly ruled a slip. Marshall landed to the body and then with a left hook upstairs. Crews-Dezurn missed with a looping shot after she got caught by a Marshall right.
Marshall landed a left hook at the start of round five. Crews-Dezurn plowed forward and bullied Marshall into the ropes. Marshall was warned by referee Victor Loughlin after the defending champ was thrown to the canvas. Marshall dropped a right hand behind a jab which Crews-Dezurn took well but did not have a response.
Crews-Dezurn briefly drove back Marshall with a left hook midway through round six, her best punch of the fight to that point. Marshall rode out Crews-Dezurn’s rough-and-tumble approach and landed a right hook to the body following by a left hook over the top.
Marshall landed a right hand following an unorthodox combination by Crews-Dezurn in round eight. Marshall was forced to spend most of the rest of the round fending off the onrushing champion, who did her best to force an inside fight but could not find the accuracy to make her challenger pay.
Crews-Dezurn lowered her head and charged forward at the start of round eight. Marshall tried to clinch while also defend against the right hand to the body. Marshall used her jab to set up right hands up top and left hooks to the body. Blood flowed from the nose of Crews-Dezurn as the penultimate round came to a close and with the fight seemingly in the balance.
The tenth and final round saw Crews-Dezurn whip her left hook to the body. Marshall took the shots well and remained committed to finding a home for a right hand, several of which landed in the closing seconds of the contest.
Marshall raised her arms in victory immediately after the bell sounded to end the contest. She had to sweat out a majority decision as she improved to 13-1 (11KOs) and is now a two-division champion. The feat ends a stretch of more than eight months without a major title in her possession after her two-year-stay as WBO middleweight titlist which ended in her hard-fought thriller versus Shields.
Crews-Dezurn suffered her first defeat since her pro debut as she fell to 8-2 (2KOs; 1NC). She held at least one super middleweight title since a September 2018 win over Maricela Cornejo for the WBC belt. She added the WBO belt one year later and then the WBA and IBF titles in her terrific ten-round win over unbeaten Elin Cedderoos in their full unification bout last April 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox