FOR Karriss Artingstall her European silver medal could not have come at a better time. Her division, 57kgs, is a competitive weight class in the UK. The women’s World championships are next month with Olympic qualifying and an Olympic Games looming next year.
She therefore needed to make a mark at the European championships, particularly as her first experience at a major tournament last year had ended in an abrupt defeat. “I got beat in the prelims [previously in the Europeans], so definitely a progression from last time,” she said. “It’s not even just the fact that my boxing’s come on, I’ve come out of my shell a lot. Last year when I competed at the Europeans I just froze. I didn’t throw a shot for two rounds. I don’t know what happened to me. I think just stepping up to that stage took its toll on me a little bit.”
She noted, “It’s a different ball game, boxing locally in England, doing the English championships, it’s a big step up to then go on the international stage. Not many people think it is. I think it’s a massive step up, just the opponents you come across, the styles you come across. Every country has their own little style, the Italians box on the back foot, they spin off hooks or whatever. Then you’ve got your little bulldozers like Ukrainians.”
At the most recent European championships in August the Army boxer racked up an impressive series of wins, beating seeded opponents to reach the final. She began against France’s Mona Mestiaen, rated third going into the tournament, and a unanimous decision made sure Artingstall would advance further than last time around. “I’ve sparred that girl before previously and I felt like I did well sparring her. But obviously I never underestimate anybody I get in with. Because it’s 50-50 on the day, it can go their way, it can go your way, it depends how you turn up on the day. I drew the number three seed for my first bout. I was confident if I boxed to the best of my ability she was beatable. So I was glad to get the win,” Karriss said.
The power she displayed was a further encouraging sign. “I gave all my opponents a standing eight count, apart from the girl I boxed in the final who beat me,” Artingstall pointed out. “The prelims, the French girl that I boxed, I gave her two counts, the Spanish girl [Jennifer Fernandez Romero] I gave her a count. Then the number two in the world [Stanimira Petrova] I gave her a count as well. It was just the Italian [Irma Testa in the final] that I didn’t give a count to. Unfortunately.”
Beating Petrova on a unanimous decision in the semi-final was a stand out win for Artingstall. “She’s class. I remember last year because I got beat in the first round, I just sat and watched the rest of the tournament and I watched her and the girls at my weight. She was the one that stood out to me the most. She’s unreal. If I ever came up and boxed her I knew she’d be a drama towards me but I just got everything right on the day. My tactics were spot on. She struggled to find her range with me, I think, and my back hand was just working a treat down the centre. I was absolutely over the moon to get the win over her though,” she said.
Testa though held her to a silver medal in the final. “Her limbs are ridiculously long, her arms. When I got in and boxed her I felt like I was catching her with the cleaner shots. The problem was I was only throwing one shot at a time. Whereas when she was throwing, she was throwing in clusters. So I can see why she got the decision, she was the better boxer on the day,” Karriss said.
But her point had been made. “I was over the moon, not to get silver but because of the opponents that I beat to get there. I was happy with that but obviously it’s not gold so I wasn’t satisfied [but] pleased with the performances I put in,” Artingstall said. “This time I was a lot more confident. I knew I was capable of mixing it with the top girls. I just had to prove it. I just had to show them I was capable.”