AFTER a tumultuous men’s event concluded in Russia, the elite female boxers head out to the same country for their World championships. Ulan-Ude, a city in Buryatia in the far east of the country, will host the tournament from October 3-13.
At the recent men’s Worlds the officiating was under scrutiny and disappointing, notably with the controversy of overturning Frazer Clarke’s quarter-final result. It is vital for AIBA to restore credibility and it has to be hoped that this tournament will make headlines for the boxing on display rather than the judging in Russia.
It’s a rare feat to win a World gold medal. In Britain only Frankie Gavin, in 2007, Savannah Marshall, in 2012, and Nicola Adams, in 2016, have managed it. Welsh middleweight Lauren Price will carry GB’s hopes into this tournament. After winning gold at the European Games earlier this year she sat out the European championships specifically to focus on this competition. “Winning the European Games earlier this year was a really big achievement, particularly as I defeated the boxer that had beaten me in the World Championships semi-final last year [Nouchka Fontijn]. I took a lot of confidence from that win and I am now looking to take that into this year’s World championships,” Price said. “I am ready to go again now and looking forward to getting back in the ring and putting in a strong performance.”
The recent European championships did see silver medal winning performances from English featherweight Kariss Artingstall and light-flyweight Demi-Jade Resztan, who will both be entering the tournament in Russia for Great Britain along with Paige Murney at 60kgs and Tori Ellis Willets at 51kgs. “The Worlds is a step-up,” Artingstall said, “but I feel like I am boxing really well and am looking forward to getting out there and showing what I can do.”
Murney may have left the recent European championships without a medal, she is confident going into the upcoming Worlds. She lost in Spain to Finland’s impressive Mira Potkonen. “Although I didn’t get the decision I wanted in the Europeans, I felt like I performed well so that will stand me in good stead going into the World championships,” Murney, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist, told Boxing News. “She [Potkonen] had just won the European Games and was number one seed. I lost on a 3-2 split and she went on to win unanimous every fight after that. So I gave her her toughest fight in the European championships. Obviously I drew her early.
“I’m happy with my performances all of this year. So going into these Worlds, as long as I keep improving and keep boxing the way I have done then I’m feeling confident.”
Although Resztan’s division, 48kgs, is not an Olympic weight class, her international performances have been such that GB have made an allowance for her and brought the New Astley boxer on to their squad, with a view ultimately to move her up to 51kgs, the Olympic division. “I still haven’t really, properly taken it in,” Resztan told Boxing News. “It’s always been my dream to be on GB. Even to get on GB that’s a massive thing for me.
“To be a full-time athlete and get paid for it, words can’t describe how it makes me feel.”
In the final of the European championships in Spain she lost Russia’s Yulia Chumgalakova and could well meet her again at the Worlds in Chumgalakova’s home country. “I’m going to try and smash her out in Russia,” Resztan said cheerfully. “In the late stages I hope… She runs around the ring a lot. I think what it was I was really overwhelmed to even get to the final and I did box well but I could have boxed better. I gave her too much time and too much space.”
Welterweight rivals Sandy Ryan and Rosie Eccles can’t seem to avoid each other. Both are on the GB squad. They’re going to the Worlds for England and Wales respectively. Ryan beat Eccles in the final of the Commonwealth Games. Eccles defeated Ryan in the recent Europeans. “More of pressure situation than about boxing,” Rosie told Boxing News. “I feel like I performed well and I feel like I performed how I needed to in each fight.
“I’m feeling confident, I’m enjoying my boxing and sparring quite well. I think I’ve just come off a tournament with three good performances. There’s scope for improvement so I think from that point of view I’m in a really good place.”
Both welterweights will want to impress as they vie for selection for Olympic qualifiers next year. “It’s about getting it right and focusing on the tournament and me, rather than anyone in particular,” Eccles said.
Their paths might not cross, but Ryan will be in better condition for these Worlds. She had been in excruciating pain before she boxed in the Europeans. Despite a short stint in hospital she still decided to box. “Me and the GB team, the doctors and the physios [thought] just go,” she explained. “Get your face out there in front of the judges and get a few bouts in before the World championships.”
“I had kidney stones,” she explained. “They’re not causing me any pain now, touch wood… I couldn’t even explain to you the pain [before]. I’ve never been in such pain. I thought I was going paralysed. Honestly.”
The Britons can’t afford to focus solely on their rivalry. 69kgs is a strong division internationally, including the USA’s Pan American Games gold medallist Oshae Jones. “There’s a lot of good girls. I’m just going to take one bout at a time,” Ryan said. “I need to take my experience with me and take the confidence with me.
“The World championships are big, but nothing like that is going to faze me because I know what’s coming.
“I just need to believe and be confident and then I’ll be okay.”