Savannah Marshall: Hartlepool '˜hard lass' must conquer boxing world
Coach Tim Coulter has sent his instructions to Savannah Marshall in Kazakhstan: Be yourself and scrap your way to glory.
The Hartlepool boxer starts her do-or-die World Championship campaign on Friday night when she meets Elena Vystropova.
Marshall must reach the semi-finals of the tournament in Almaty if she is to win a place at the Olympic Games.
And Coulter, rarely a man to pull his punches, has delivered a blunt order to the Headland ABC middleweight 3,000 miles away in the Kazakh capital.
“I’ve spoken to Savannah and told her what I think,” said Coulter who has coached the Hartlepool sporting legend since she took her first steps into the Northgate gym.
“I said ‘Savannah, you have wanted to be a fighter since you were 12 years old’.
“I told her that she’s a born and bred fighter – she’s not one to be skipping around a ring, flicking out a jab.
“Don’t get me wrong, she’s a lovely, quiet and modest girl who it’s been a privilege to train.
“But I said to her ‘you are a hard lass from Millbank Road’.
“That’s what she is and I want her to get in the ring and let her shots go.”
It’s not a case that Marshall is purely a fighter.
You don’t take medal after medal and become only the second Great Britain amateur to win World Championship gold (male or female) if you can’t box.
She is the only woman to beat the ‘invincible’ Claressa Shields, the reigning Olympic champion, and Coulter says the Commonwealth Games queen has got everything she needs to go all the way.
“When Savannah’s at her best, no-one comes near her, I firmly believe that,” he said.
“I think there has been a problem with her first bout at tournaments.
“I’m not saying she does not give it her all, but I think there is an element in her mind of ‘I could have another fight tomorrow, then another the day after etc’.
“She can’t hold anything back, what’s the point of being fit to box the next day if you have been put out the competition the day before?
“Savannah can box six days on the trot, no problem, she won world gold in 2012 doing exactly that and silver two years before.
“She knows what to do.”
Marshall takes on Vystropova in the round of 32 on Friday evening – a repeat of the 2012 middleweight final in China where Savannah won 17-15.