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Fury vs Norrad Undercard Update: Savannah Marshall, Marcel Braithwaite, Michael Hennessy Jr

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Hartlepool’s unbeaten starlet Savannah Marshall holds a secret that she has no intention of sharing to defeat the division’s First Lady

Silent Assassin returns to action on Saturday 25th May at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester on the undercard of Hughie Fury, exclusively live on Channel 5

The 27 year old ‘Silent Assassin’ remains the only boxer to have inflicted a ring defeat on US golden girl Claressa Shields – current custodian of all four major world middleweight belts – in the dual Olympic champion’s 87 bout career.

Miss Marshall mastered the Michigan maestro by 14-8 on the computer in the second series of bouts in Quihuangdao, China, en route to cementing her status as Britain’s first ever female world amateur champion in 2012.

And shy girl Savannah is adamant that she will repeat the trick when the pair inevitably collide for a far bigger bounty in the paid brigade.

‘So far, I’m the only one in the world who knows the secret to beating her. Obviously, I’m not going to disclose what it is,’ states the softly-spoken north-easterner who also bagged silver and bronze gongs at the World meets in Barbados (2010) and Kazakhstan (2016).

‘It was under the old scoring system, a point for a (connecting) punch, and I beat her very clearly. Claressa has offered many different recollections of the fight. Whatever. I beat her. We’ve both improved considerably since.

‘She went on to win double Olympic gold (London 2012 and Rio 2016) and I didn’t even medal so I know I’ll enter a big underdog but, if and when the rematch happens, I know I can win again. I’m very confident in my ability. I don’t need anyone else to tell me what I’m capable of, or not. I know myself.’

The 5ft 11 1/2in Durham dynamo first laced up at 12 simply to keep fit but, in addition to her hat-trick of World Championship medals, she topped the rostrum at the 2010 European Unions and 2014 Commonwealth Games and lifted a barrow load of medals at prestigious multi-nation meets during an eight year stint on the Team GB set up in Sheffield. A dual Olympian, she concluded her amateur life with a mightily impressive 103-15 CV.

And since announcing herself to the profession with a classy four round decision win on the Mayweather-McGregor mega match in Las Vegas in August 2017, meek Marshall has racked up five straight wins and bagged the WBA Inter-Continental strap last October with a polished 10 round pummelling of Argentina’s previously undefeated Yanina Orozco in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Stylish and savage in equal measure, three of her victims failed to make it past round two.

‘Being at the top end of woman’s weights, sets me aside from the other British girls,’ states sensible Savannah who holds 12 GCSEs plus a BTEC (with distinction) in Sport.

‘All the big girls can punch hard. I’ve always been told I’m heavy handed but Peter (Fury her trainer and manager) has added EXPLOSIVE power…….and I do enjoy delivering a chilling knockout!’

Since hammering Hungary’s Klaudia Vigh in two at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse six months ago, fight student Marshall has been working hard in the gym with trainer Peter Fury.

She explains: ‘I’ve been in the gym all year building on my game, improving my strength and all-round technique with Peter at the Salford ABC gym. There’s just myself and Hughie (Fury, Peter’s son and world heavyweight contender) in camp at the moment and it’s a very chilled environment. If I offer an opinion, I know it’ll be listened to.’

On Saturday week she returns to The Vic for her first start of 2019, a year she believes will conclude with her on the cusp of world title contention.

‘I’ll be looking to put everything I’ve learned over the last six months into action; settle into the fight quickly and produce a good all-round display,’ predicts Marshall.

‘I just need to keep active, be involved in more 10 rounders and acquire the experience of fighting before thousands on big shows. By the end of this year, I’d hope to be 10 and 0 and knocking on the door for a world title, either at super-middle, or at middle against Claressa.

‘I intend unifying the world titles at both weights, no particular order, then walking away from boxing with my head held high, no regrets.’

Marcel Braithwaite ready to shine!

Scouse showman Marcel Braithwaite promises to provide the glitz and glamour to proceedings at promoter Mick Hennessy’s blockbuster bill at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse on May 25 on the undercard of Hughie Fury versus Chris Norrad, exclusively live on Channel 5.

The slick and stylish 25 year old super-bantam skilster returns to duty hellbent on atoning for the first setback of his eight fight pro career last time out – a six round points loss to English title challenger Brett Fidoe – and is threatening to sizzle.

‘I deliver entertainment. If fans like a bit of flash, they’ll love me!’ claims the self-proclaimed ‘Chosen One’

‘Fans can look forward to watching a classy boxer puncher; I’m a bit showy, lots of slick movement and defence.

‘There was a lot of mix-up with my preparation last fight. I was sick, got better, sick again, better again. Then they changed my opponent the day before and Brett’s a nightmare for anyone….very tricky.’

One of a brood of six, born and raised on the tough terrain of Toxteth, Liverpool 8, 5ft 2in Braithwaite learnt how to hold his hands up at primary school.

‘I’ve always loved fighting,’ confesses the personal trainer who is managed by Steve Wood.

‘I started Tae-Kwon-Do at four, kick-boxing at seven or eight, then settled on the boxing from the age of about 11. Mum and dad took me to the gym cos I was always scrapping at school or on the streets. I wasn’t a particularly bad-tempered kid. I just really enjoyed fighting. It brought me pleasure!’

‘I lost just seven of my 36 amateur bouts and competed against guys like (ex ABA champ) Lucien Reid, (European Senior medallist) Calum French and (Commonwealth Games and European Seniors champion) Peter McGrail.

‘I won a National Novice title for under 20 bouts and boxed for England twice, winning the Three Nations, then losing to McGrail, a very talented kid, in the GB final.’

Having entered the profession, aged 22, in November 2016, mobile Marcel mesmerised his first seven opponents, dropping just one of 30 completed rounds on official cards, prior to that stumble against Fidoe – a man he’d previously shut-out six.

Sidelined for nine months, Braithwaite has made crucial adjustments to his support system ahead of his comeback.

He explains: ‘For my last two fights I was at the No Limits gym but now I’m back at the (Golden) Gloves under Wayne Smith where I fought as an amateur, getting re-built from the ground up, revisiting the basics, getting the right lifestyle back. I like to enjoy myself and party away from boxing but I lead a healthy active lifestyle.

‘I turned pro to follow my passion and win titles. During my apprenticeship there was no point killing myself to make weight, to fight naturally heavier journeymen but I could definitely make bantamweight, possibly even super-fly, and when I finally get matches at my proper weight, I’ll be a lot more physical.’

On Saturday week, Marcel brings the distinctive Braithwaite brand to Manchester for a third time, where he will star in a six-rounder against a foe yet to be announced.

‘Rucking on the streets of Toxteth, you never got to choose the opponent!’ he quips.

‘Whoever it is, they’re getting done in. I’ve got my heart set on titles and, hopefully by the end of 2019, I can put myself into contention for a shot at the English title shot, perhaps even the British.’

Michael Hennessy Jr: “Pro Boxing is where I will come into my own”

Over the past two decades, esteemed fight face Mick Hennessy navigated stars such as Froch, Witter, Barker, Eastman and the Fury cousins (Tyson and Hughie) through the fistic jungle and on to international acclaim. Now the innovative promoter’s son Michael Junior is poised to enrich the family’s fighting legacy…between the ropes!

The 19 year old 6ft 1″ middleweight is an amateur centurion who served a quality ring apprenticeship on both sides of the Irish Sea and as a spar hand within several of the capital’s most revered pro academies.

Now the angel-faced action man intends utilising dad’s influence to take the outside lane to the top in the paid sphere.

While licences and medicals are due to be issued, the intention is to unleash Michael into the profession on his dad’s show at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse on May 25th headlined by Hughie Fury’s return to the ring against Chris Norrard, exclusively live on Channel 5.

‘I’ve got a very exciting, TV friendly style. I love to fight and, in future, when I need to, the public will enjoy seeing me go toe-to-toe. Once people see me in action they’ll begin to realise I’ve served a very hard apprenticeship and I belong at this level.” quips Junior in a soft tone that belies the spite and aggression for which he is lauded once his boxing gloves are laced.

The Noble Art has been a fundamental factor in Michael Jr’s existence since before he could recite his alphabet.

‘Boxing’s my life,’ states bright boy Michael, who attained five A Stars and five A grades at GCSE level whilst also competing at the highest level of amateur boxing.

‘I’ve been attending my dad’s shows since I was as young as four or five. Dad’s biggest stars from fighters, to trainers to managers and promoters, were always around. During my teens, Dad paid me to work part-time in his office, where I got a behind the scenes look of how the game really works! I’ve been surrounded by the fight game my whole life.

‘My Dad never wanted me to box but it was inevitable. I started badgering him as young as six or seven but, initially, he always told me: ‘No’. He said if I still wanted to do it when I was 11, he’d take me to the gym and we shook hands on the deal.

‘True to his word, on my 11th birthday, I was taken to the local Sevenoaks ABC gym and also when in Ireland the St. Monica’s club in Newry (where Michael remained for the whole of his amateur career under Owen Murphy). I had my first bout just two months later and was fast tracked. I’d attend the gym on Monday and Wednesdays, then practise on the pads at home with Dad, every other night.’

Over time, the teen terror – who subsequently joined Body Shots Academy later on as his English club, but was coached from the off by his father – evolved into one of the most seasoned starlets on the unpaid circuit, scouring the seas in search of the trials and tests that could accelerate his development.

‘I had well over 100 amateur bouts but at least 60% were in Ireland where my dad’s family are from. I must have won well over three quarters,’ recalls the eldest of Hennessy Senior’s three children.

‘As an amateur, I won multiple Box Cups, and multiple London, Ulster, Antrim and Nine Counties titles. Having got to the semi-finals and finals of a few different prestigious national tournaments, I believe that if there was fair play involved, I would also have national titles on my record.

‘But, truthfully, as an amateur, it was always just about learning and gathering experience to succeed later in the pros.’

Encased in a boxing bubble from birth was always going to bring advantages but Papa Mick, himself a useful amateur during his youth around the Old Kent Road, disclosed that, from his formative years in the sport, young Michael rejected any notion of being ‘silver spooned’ through the sport.

‘As Michael was lying in bed after his third win, aged 11, I complemented him on a brilliant performance. As I went to leave the room, he said with this huge smile ‘Dad, 3 and 0!’ recalls Mick the promoter turned teacher.

‘I returned to his bedside and told him: ‘Son, in amateur boxing, there’ll be a lot of heartbreak; politics and bad decisions. Sure, I can keep you on home shows, where you won’t fight as much and we can go on a long unbeaten run or I can take you on the road where sometimes you’ll lose, other times you’ll get shafted but you’ll certainly learn to fight. What’s it to be?’ Without blinking, he replied: ‘The road, dad!’

‘Consequently, Michael has been boxing at an elite level since the beginning. He’s been very competitive his whole career against National, Commonwealth, European and World medalists, and also holds some notable wins over some of them.

‘For the pros, he’ll definitely need to tighten his defence, mind. He’s very, very aggressive if left to his own devices but I intend for Michael to have a long and successful career.’

Despite his tender years, slender frame and cherubic features, Hennessy Jr is adamant that he possesses the hardware required to flourish within The Hardest Game.

‘Most of the other amateurs boxed pretty much the same, darting in and out, picking points but, from day dot, I had a pro style that distinguished me, set me apart,’ states Michael who now studies Business and Property Development through open study.

‘I’ve been moving around with pros and doing the long rounds, from a young age. I won’t need to make many adjustments for the pros.

‘Despite being tall and slim, I like to work inside, I love the body shots and working up close. Lee Wilkins, trainer and owner of Body Shots gym nicknamed me ‘Miguel Hernandez’ at 14 due to my initials and because I fought like a Mexican. It caught on with all the lads and the nickname Miguel seems to have stuck.’

And this most engaging of young men is intent on making quite a splash when he debuts sans singlet and with the free-to-air Channel Five cameras rolling, in Manchester on Saturday week.

‘I’m not at all nervous about this; just relaxed and excited,’ concludes Michael.

‘I’m going straight into six-threes. Four-threes would be too similar to an amateur fight. We’re unsure on the opponent at the moment,”

‘But whoever it is, I’m looking to put on a spectacular performance and, hopefully get, a kayo victory. It’s going to be the start of an epic journey to the top!

You can follow Michael’s journey on social media: @mhennessyjr

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