Savannah Marshall scored the biggest knockout of her career as she pole-axed Femke Hermans in the third round in Newcastle to retain her WBO middleweight title and finally set up her clash with Claressa Shields. 

“There is no one else between me and Clarissa so it is me and Clarissa in the summer now,” Marshall said. 

“I know Clarissa can’t handle my power. I know when I face Clarissa it will be a good night. I believe I severely hurt Clarissa.” 

The fight looks set to take place in the UK, but Marshall said she wanted it back in Newcastle. “It’s got to happen here in the North-East,” she said. 

Marshall took her time in the opening round and found herself picked off at times by the fleet-footed Hermans. But the champion went after Hermans more in the second and, while she landed with the jab, the Belgian was able to keep moving and away from trouble as she looked to land her right-hand counter. 

The action heated up in the third, as Marshall looked to walk through Hermans’s punches to land, although Hermans kept firing back. 

But in the final few seconds of the round Marshall’s blows began to have an impact. A hard left lead sent Hermans falling back into the ropes, which was followed up by a right. Then as Marshall missed with a right, she followed up with a huge left hook the flattened Hermans, leaving the lying flat on her back under the bottom rope. Referee Howard Foster waved it off instantly as the bell sounded. 

“Femke is a brilliant fighter, she’s a former world champion and she is awkward, she tried to catch me coming in. I didn’t think she would go out like that. 

“I never, ever go looking for a knockout.” 

Shields, who holds the WBC, WBA and IBF details was not too glowing in her praise. 

“That is what you are supposed to do, I said she would do that with Femke,” Shields said. “I’m not Femke Hermans, I’m not Hannah Rankin, I’m not any of those girls she fought against.  

“As much punch power as she has got, if that’s what I have got to look forward to, it’s going to be a wipe-out.  

“I went the distance with Femke but that was four years ago, early in my career. I’m not Femke. She is going to have trouble with me and she is definitely not going to knock me out.

“You have to have power, you have to have skill, you have to have all of that to beat me. It's not going to take her just one big punch to deal with me inside the ring. It will take a lot. Femke was able to make her miss and I am ten times faster than Femke, so what do you think I am going to do.” 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.