Hartlepool’s Commonwealth Games boxer Savannah Marshall is best says Natasha Jonas

A WINNER: Savannah Marshall with the medal and cup she won at the European Union championships.
A WINNER: Savannah Marshall with the medal and cup she won at the European Union championships.

ENGLAND medal hope Natasha Jonas has told the Commonwealth Games rivals of Savannah Marshall not to take too much encouragement by the Hartlepool girl’s long absence from the ring.

Marshall will start her campaign in Glasgow on Tuesday when she fights Rani Pooja in the first round of the middleweight section.

It will be the 23-year-old’s first bout for 10 months since she struck gold at the World Combat Games in Russia where she fought through the pain barrier to triumph in the major tournament.

Her shoulder was so badly damaged she required surgery when she returned home.

It was her second serious injury in two years after hand trouble following the London Olympics – a problem which also needed an operation.

But if any of her rivals at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre have detected any chink of light, Jonas has advised them to re-evaluate the situation.

“Savannah’s had a lot of ups and downs, bless her,” said the Scouser who boxes at lightweight in Glasgow.

“But when she’s on top form she’s undoubtedly the best in the world at 75 kilos.

“She’s fully fit now and looking very good – it’s great to see her back in the ring again.

“Savannah is a quiet girl, very shy and down to earth and doesn’t like the attention, but she is an incredible fighter.

“You could see that in her last two competitions.

“She’s come back from both with gold medals and she’s not been 100 per cent fit at either tournament.

“But you put a fully-fit Savannah in any tournament and she’ll win the gold and I’m confident that is what we’ll see from her.”

Jonas is the least recognisable of the three-strong female team at the Commonwealths, where women’s boxing makes it’s debut.

But the Liverpool fighter is at the top of her game – she is the world number one at 64 kilos where she won European silver, though in Scotland she’ll be operating at 60.

“I’m growing and growing in confidence,” said the 30-year-old. “I had a bad end to last year and a bad start to this one. That’s why Chantelle [Cameron] was sent to the Euros at 60 kilos.

“But when it matters I can always pull it out the bag and I’m in the Commonwealth team. It’s great to be here.

“While it may not emulate London 2012, it’s brilliant women’s boxing is in and it should be a good tournament.

“The Scots love their boxing.”

Jonas has an Ashes battle in the lightweight division on Tuesday when she will box Shelley Watts, of Australia.

Olympic golden girl Nicola Adams has been drawn against Oluwatoyin Oladeji, of Nigeria, in Monday’s first flyweight round.