SWEDE ‘N’ SOUR DRAW FOR ‘OUR’ SAVANNAH

Savannah Marshall
Savannah Marshall
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Savannah Marshall must bury her Dutch jinx if she is to bring an Olympic medal back to Hartlepool.

The boxer has been handed a demanding, though not impossible, middleweight draw in Rio.

If I do come up against her in the Olympics that’s when it will matter and I’ll hopefully get the better of her

SAVANNAH MARSHALL

Marshall will face old rival Anna Laurell in the opening U75 kilo round a week on Sunday – and providing she can get the better of the giant Swede, she will take on arch rival Nouchka Fontijn in the quarter-finals.

Victory against the world number two would guarantee the 25-year-old the minimum of a bronze medal – not to mention a potential semi-final against Li Qian, the Chinese opponent she outclassed in the World Championship earlier in the summer.

However, the Headland ABC star must see off Laurell and her bogey opponent, Fontijn, who was given a bye in the opening round.

The 28-year-old, from the Netherlands, has defeated Marshall four times on the spin.

While Marshall is the only boxer on the planet to have beaten reigning Olympic and World Champion Claressa Shields – who is on the opposite side of the draw in Rio – Fontijn has the Indian Sign over the Commonwealth champion.

You have to go back to the summer of 2013 for Savannah’s last win over Nouchka, in the final of the European Union Championship.

Fontijn’s most recent win over the Poolie star came in the world semi-final in Kazakhstan at the end of May.

There was no shortage of aggression or effort from the Dyke House girl, but her rival got the points verdict.

But, far from giving Marshall sleepless nights, it seems to be spurring her on .

“For me, it was a lot closer than the scoreline showed,” she told SportMail. “It’s a clash of styles when we box, I just think she’s probably my Achilles heel.

“There are boxers I can beat quite easily that Nouchka struggles against.

“If I do come up against her in the Olympics that’s when it will matter and I’ll hopefully get the better of her.

“While it wasn’t nice to have to sit and watch the World final, the worlds were all about qualifying for the Olympics and that’s what I did.”

However, before she can contemplate a reunion with Fontijn, Savannah must first see off Laurell, which won’t be easy.

Marshall boasts a string of wins over the 36-year-old, but the 6ft 4in ex-double world champ is enjoying a late flourish in her career.