Savannah Marshall to face Nouchka Fontijn at European Games

Savannah Marshall
Savannah Marshall

Savannah Marshall will face world number three Nouchka Fontijn in her first fight at the European Games.

The Hartlepool boxer has been drawn in the quarter-finals against her close rival, from the Netherlands.

I’m feeling good and can’t wait to compete again in a tournament

Savannah Marshall

Ironically, the pair sparred in a recent training camp in Germany and know each other’s game inside out

They have met twice in major competitions with the current score 1-1 in wins.

Fontijn beat the Headland ABC star at the 2011 European Championship semi-final in Rotterdam with Marshall avenging that defeat in the 2013 EU Championship final in Hungary.

Marshall is desperate to win a medal in the European Games – to get back on the world ranking list.

The Hartlepool boxer went from hero to zero when she went out of the World Championships last November at the first hurdle, to Russia’s Iaroslava Iakushina.

Defeat more than damaged her pride, she lost her status as the number one middleweight on the planet.

The world governing body, the International Boxing Association, cleaned the slate ahead of the South Korea event meaning Marshall was banished into the ratings wilderness.

“All the ranking points got wiped,” said the 24-year-old, who competes at middleweight in Baku on Thursday. “I’m not even ranked now

“So it’s important I come back from the European Games with something, I need a medal.

“I’m hoping for a good draw and good start and then carry that on through the tournament.”

Marshall is in Azerbaijan for the first staging of the European Games, a multi-sport event in the style of the Olympics and Commonwealths.

The Headland ABC star spent last week in Germany with the boxing squad and sparred with three of her rivals in Baku, Sarah Scheurich, the German number one and world number seven, giant Swede Anna Laurell and, of course, Fortijn.

Marshall expects the principal threats to come from the tall German, plus long-time rival Fortijn, from the Netherlands, and fifth-ranked Iakushina.

“I’d say Iaroslava, Nouchka and Sarah will be the top three [rivals],” said Marshall, who has both beaten and lost to Iakushina and Fortijn in the past.

“I’m feeling good and can’t wait to compete again in a tournament.

“It’s the same format as the Commonwealths and I’m quite excited.”

Marshall and the team have plenty of time to acclimatise to the hot Baku temperatures, with the women’s boxing not starting until the 18th.

The Commonwealth gold medallist is in top nick after a series of training camps while surgery on a hand problem has been successful.

Marshall came back from a tournament in Spain, the Boxam Cup, with ‘only’ a bronze after a controversial semi-final defeat to Lauren Price, from Wales.

But there has been no hangover from that set-back.

“I’m happy with my form and fitness,” she added.