Savannah Marshall has come out fighting in her bid to reach her second Olympic Games.
The pressure was on the Hartlepool boxer when she came out for her first contest at the World Championship in Kazakhstan yesterday.
I felt good, I’m glad the first one is out the waySAVANNAH MARSHALL
Standing in her way in the blue corner in Astana was a girl Marshall rates as one of the best boxers she has fought, Elena Vystropova, who pushed her all the way in the 2012 final in China.
But the Headland ABC star turned the clock back with a dominant display as she out-thought, out-fought and outclassed the Azerbaijan fighter, who went into the tournament as the sixth seed.
All three judges, from Vietnam, Poland and Algeria, scored every round for Marshall, who celebrated her 25th birthday on Thursday, and must go on to reach at least the semi-finals if she is to win a spot at Rio.
“I felt good, I’m glad the first one is out the way,” was the happy but succinct assessment from the Poolie, who now meets Pooja Rani in the last 16 tomorrow.
GB coach Lee Pullen described it as “vintage stuff” and fellow corner man Dave Alloway added: “That’s the way to start with a statement like that – brilliant.”
After going out at the first hurdle in two of her last three major competitions, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist could not afford a repeat in Astana.
However, Marshall took charge from the first bell.
Her jab was crisp and accurate and she then let go a series of left-right combinations, with her 28-year-old opponent landing just single shots in return.
After taking the round 10-9 on the judges cards, Savannah was forward again in the second round, her left not missing the target, to either the head or body.
Vystropova, knowing she was two rounds down, came out strongly for round three, but a long right from the Poolie and a body combination soon had her on top again.
Referee Martin Tadic had told off the Azer fighter for holding several times and, just before the end of the round, warned her and docked her a point.
It meant Marshall had one foot in the last 16.
Ahead of the final round, Pullen told his boxer to keep it “tidy”, adding “busy, busy, busy”.
Marshall followed orders, scoring with two rapid left-right combos in quick succession before driving home more lefts.
She won all four sessions for a 40-35 result on each scorecard.
Her Headland ABC coach, Tim Coulter, was impressed by what he watched.
“The pressure was on her, but she responded,” said the man who has trained her for the last 13 years.
“Her jab, double jab and straight combinations were excellent and she hooked well off her jab as well.
“There was none of this skipping in and out – she let her shots go, which was great to see.
“You could see Savannah was hurting her with body shots and that was why Elena was holding.
“It was good to see the referee took action because too many times refs don’t do anything.”