21 September 2020

Exclusive: Boxer Savannah Marshall reveals 'I think I had coronavirus at Christmas' as she fears world title fight will be cancelled

British boxer Savannah Marshall has revealed she was hospitalised over Christmas with an illness she feels may have been coronavirus.

The 28 year-old Olympian is currently scheduled to be fighting for the WBO World Light-Heavyweight Title on April 4 at the Newcastle Arena, but the bout could be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far taken 53 lives in the UK.

And while Marshall has been training and sparring hard in preparation for the biggest fight of her professional career, she is also aware that the health and safety of the public must come first.

Speaking exclusively to NewsChain, she said: “Personally, I think it’s going to get cancelled. I’m gutted, absolutely gutted, but it’s one of them things, health’s more important than anything.

“Everyone’s got theories about it. To be honest I’m sick of watching and hearing about it on the telly. I do believe it is really serious and heaven forbid anyone I love or anyone that’s close to me got ill from it. 

“I’m gutted if it got cancelled but the way I think is if any of my family or friends got ill then I’d take them getting better over anything. As a country we’ve got through worse than this. The way people are going on I’m thinking ‘god, how did people cope in the war?’"

Marshall fights under promoter Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing stable, who have already cancelled shows in the USA due to the outbreak.

Her last fight was back in October - also in Newcastle - where she maintained her perfect pro record, which now stands at 8-0, with a third round stoppage.

But several weeks later the Hartlepudlian fell seriously ill and was subsequently taken to hospital.

And Marshall believes that although the coronavirus outbreak was not reported on until well after the festive period, she insists her condition was consistent with the symptoms which are now being linked to COVID-19.

“They thought I had bacterial meningitis, but they ended up putting it down to a virus," she said.

And looking back now, with the symptoms I had, I think I might have already had that (coronavirus). 

"It’s all theories - shoulda, woulda, coulda and all that - but I personally feel like I could have had it (coronavirus) or something similar around Christmas time."

The other major concern around Marshall's world title fight potentially being cancelled is the money she has spent on her camp.

Boxers have to pay their trainer, sparring partners, physio, as well as lesser thought of expenses such as accommodation, for which Marshall rents a flat in Manchester with fellow boxer Chantelle Cameron.

Marshall and Cameron while on the Team GB squad as amateurs (Instagram: Chantelle Cameron)

“I’ve spent an absolute fortune on this training camp and it’s money that I expected to get back through the fight. But obviously if the fight doesn’t come off then I’m down," she said.

“I haven’t seen Chantelle for a couple of weeks. We both train in Manchester, but I know she’s waiting to hear if her fight is 100% going ahead or not. She’s hearing things about it getting cancelled.”

Marshall and Cameron have an exceptionally tight bond which they formed years ago when they were on the GB squad together as amateurs.

And that is not something the north east fighter takes for granted in difficult times such as these.

“That’s what takes a little bit of the sadness away from it (experiencing the same as Cameron), because everyone’s in the same boat," she added.

"Don’t get wrong, I’d be absolutely devastated if my fight got cancelled. But because we’re all in the same boat, we all know what each other’s going through."

If all mass public gatherings are to be banned by the Government - and they are already being heavily advised against by Boris Johnson - then a potential alternative for boxing shows could be to do them behind closed doors.

The Olympic qualifiers held at the Copper Box Arena in London this week were going ahead without a crowd before they were suspended on Monday evening.

And while some fans of the sport have criticised the measure because they feel it takes away a fundamental cornerstone of the sport's identity, it is not something Marshall would fight against.

“People have said it could be behind closed doors, which for me I’m not bothered, I’d still go ahead," she said.

"But then it’s whole thing of whether it’s cost effective for Matchroom and Sky. People think it’s as easy as putting it on and everyone watching it, but that comes at a cost because most fighters purses get paid through ticket sales.

“It doesn’t really bother me. I was hoping to get my money back for my fight, so I could be (fighting) in a social club, I couldn’t care less as long as I fight and get paid."

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