ONE of Britain’s most experienced competitors, Sandy Ryan met defeat in her first contest at the women’s World championships in Ulan-Ude in Russia. Ryan, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and formerly a World silver medallist, suffered a split decision defeat when she took on Ireland’s Christina Desmond on Friday (October 4) in the preliminary round at 69kgs.

Desmond moved in quickly to catch Ryan out with her southpaw left. The Briton responded, finding the Irishwoman with a right cross-left hook combination. Desmond fended Sandy off with her right jab and she launched wide hooks that still managed to catch Ryan’s headguard.

In the second round Ryan forced Desmond back with another right cross. The Briton lined up a crisp one-two. But the Irish welterweight flung her left hook through an opening. Desmond’s back hand crashed over the top. The referee did hand Desmond a warning out of the blue, signalling that she was slapping with her punches but Desmond was landing straight blows.

In the third round she dashed her left hand into the side of Ryan’s head. She led with her left and steered a split points decision her way.

Ryan’s difficult year continues; after recovering from a gruelling illness she did not medal at the recent European championships and she has been working to get back to full fitness.

Sandy Ryan World championships
It’s been a difficult year for Sandy Ryan

Sandy was boxing for England in this competition with her GB rival, Rosie Eccles representing Wales at 69kgs at these Worlds. Eccles took a unanimous point victory over Argentina’s Lucia Perez. The latter is tall and looked to work from range, staying away from the Welsh welterweight. Eccles had to swiftly close in, throwing her combinations on the inside, a strong right jolting Perez amongst the punches. Rosie jabbed and moved back. Perez slung a wide right hook into her but Eccles was beginning to break through her defences, landing shots to the head. Her jab set up a cross and Eccles threw her right hand with weight behind it.

Perez went on the offensive in the second round, working busily. But Eccles slashed punches back at her, the blows cutting through. The Welsh boxer found a rhythm, drumming a one-two into the Argentine.

Eccles kept up the pressure in the final round. Perez backed off after she fired in a cross. Eccles retaliated with her own right. Perez looked to fight off the ropes but Eccles hit with solid connections and took a unanimous decision.

Karris Artingstall, the GB featherweight, made sure she got her tournament off to a good start, taking a unanimous decision victory over the USA’s Yarisel Ramirez.

Artingstall began working her southpaw left, looking to apply those jabs but she steadily increased the tempo of her thumping punches. She lined up the route for a straight, hard left cross and let the shot fly through.

Ramirez engaged once again in the second round, tagging Artingstall with a cross. But Karriss heaved her right hook back in. Ramirez took aim at the body but undeterred Artingstall rattled off a barrage of straight shots. She maintained her advantage in the third round, using jabs to control the distance. Ramirez did pick out a solid one-two but Artingstall concluded the contest hitting in a hard combination, leading with her left to fire in the right then another left.

She continued her form into her second bout in Russia, beating North Korea’s Hwa Son Jon on another unanimous points decision.

English light-flyweight Demie Jade Resztan, a European silver medallist like Artingstall, won her first bout in Ulan-Ude too. It was a close contest with Uzbekistan’s rough Gulasal Sultonalieva. Overeager to start with Resztan slipped over and then she allowed Sultonalieva to barrel into her with chopping right hands. Resztan steadied herself, dashing a southpaw left over. The two traded in the centre of the ring in the second round. Sultonalieva cuffed Resztan round the head with hooks and landed a firm jab. But a turning point came when the referee handed the Uzbek a warning and a point deduction for holding.

That didn’t dissuade Sultonalieva from grabbing Resztan in a headlock in the last round but Demie Jade was boxing neatly by then, her gloves up, finding success with her back hand left, tagging the Uzbek with a one-two. A delighted Resztan won a split points decision.

GB’s flyweight and lightweight, Tori Ellis Willetts and Paige Murney were also defeated in their initial contests in Russia. Bulgarian 51kgs Gabriela Dimitrova put her height and reach advantages to good use. The southpaw landed her straight left from a distance. Ellis Willetts could not bridge the gap between them, missing consistently with her jab and getting caught up in a clinch on occasion.

Remaining determined, the Briton worked her way into the bout but even when she landed a one-two, Dimitrova replied with a heavier cross. The Bulgarian continued to be elusive, making it hard for Ellis Willetts to land anything more than single shots.

It meant Tori had to reach for her with her punches, stretching out to land a jab over the top. A hard right in the third round kept Dimitrova alert but her footwork spun her away from any great trouble. Ellis Willetts stumbled out of position when she rushed for the Bulgarian. But the GB flyweight can take some satisfaction from slamming a right into Dimitrova as she pedalled backwards too quickly. Her antagonist struggled to get her footing back beneath her and tumbled over. It was however not a significant knockdown. Dimitrova rose, quite unharmed, and fired a one-two back into Ellis Willetts to confirm a unanimous decision victory.

Tori Ellis Willetts
Tori Ellis Willetts is out of the tournament (Andy Chubb/England Boxing)

Leicester lightweight Murney could not get the better of Kazakhstan’s strong Rimma Volossenko. The English boxer set out with aggressive jabs, only for Volossenko to club a right hook down on her. The Kazakh waited for Murney to advance again and tapped a long left hook into the mark. Volossenko attacked with flurries of hefty punches, shrugging off the blows Paige landed on her. It forced Murney to retreat, throwing what she could to try to turn the Kazakh back. Volossenko in contrast grew in confidence, shifting her hands in a low guard, slipping her head from side to side and remaining ready to lunge forward even when she held the centre of the ring.

Murney flung a right hook then a left hook back at her but could not dislodge Volossenko’s control. The Kazakh kept on swinging, jolting Murney as the final round wound down and taking a unanimous decision victory.

The Irish team began well at the World championships. Their flyweight Ceire Smith unanimously outscored Australia’s Taylah Robertson. At 57kgs Michaela Walsh continued the winning streak. She took a dominant points decision over Mali’s Carmara Fatoumata, winning 30-25 for four of the five judges and 30-26. Walsh outclassed Fatoumata. She switched stances on occasion, landing to the head and body, and handed Fatoumata a standing in the third round.

“First fight, first win of the World championships, now we move onto the last 16 vs Russia. Ready to shine, moving up the gears,” Walsh said. “Team Ireland is on fire.”

With reigning World champion Kellie Harrington out injured, Amy Broadhurst is representing Ireland at 60kgs. She met Germany’s Maya Kleinhans in the opening stage in Russia, taking a unanimous points win. Broadhurst found the target with the more solid punches over the course of a tight and tactical contest.

Scottish 64kgs Megan Reid put in a fine effort to win her opening bout against Thi Linh Ha. The Vietnamese light-welterweight plied her with jabs and moved away deftly in the first round. But Reid stuck to the task, walking Ha down and slowing her down, hitting the body with her right cross and slinging hooks to the head. She wore away Ha’s energy and took a good split decision victory.