SAVANNAH Marshall must beat an old foe – and friend – to win a place in the quarter-finals of boxing’s European Championships.
The 20-year-old Hartlepool fighter will today face Sinead Kavanagh in the last-16 bout in the Netherlands.
Marshall already boasts an impressive victory against the Irish fighter, stopping the tough Dubliner in the dying seconds of their showdown at the Borough Hall in March 2009.
The Headland star, who was only 17 at the time of the 11th straight win of her career, became friends and last month Kavanagh visited Hartlepool to train and spar with her.
Headland ABC coach Tim Coulter is confident Marshall will again get the better of the 25-year-old at the Topsport Centrum in Rotterdam later today.
“It was funny how the draw has turned out,” Coulter told SportMail.
“Sinead was only over here a few weeks ago with her coach, Tony Davitt.
“Me and Tony have kept in touch ever since Savannah boxed Sinead on our club show a couple of years ago.
“He had suggested last year that they come over to train but Savannah was injured at the time so it didn’t happen then.
“But last month Tony and Sinead came over and spent the weekend here.
“Savannah and Sinead trained and ran together and I’d say they probably did 20 rounds in our ring at the gym.”
Coulter is not worried that her U75 kilo rival has seen her at close quarters and may have gained a valuable insight into the World Championship silver medallist.
“I don’t think them having sparred together will be an issue,” he said.
“In fact, I believe their previous meeting and the training will be more of an advantage than disadvantage.
“Having beaten her before and sparred well against her, Savannah should be confident going into tonight’s bout.
“She knows exactly what Sinead is about – she comes to have a fight and she’ll be ready for her.”
Kavanagh does have one advantage going into the middleweight confrontation – she already has a fine win under her belt at these championships.
The 25-year-old, from Dublin’s Drimnagh club, beat Viktoria Kebikava, of Belarus, 18-9 in yesterday’s preliminary round.
“It was nice to see Sinead win and I texted Tony last night to say congratulations,” added Coulter.
There is another Britain v Ireland shoot-out at U51 kilos, where Marshall’s fellow World Championship silver medallist, Nicola Adams, meets Katie Rowland.