UNABLE to box along with the rest of GB’s Olympic squad in Belgrade in April, Karriss Artingstall and Lauren Price got in some valuable competition in the Czech Republic at the Grand Prix tournament.

Once again Price met her enduring rival Nouchka Fontijn. Price used her speed to dart in and out, landing her southpaw jab. But the tall Dutch middleweight did manage to clump her with heavy rights. The bout got messy at times and Fontijn edged this one a split decision. Expect their rivalry to continue at the European Olympic qualification event that’s set to run from June 4-8 in Paris.

Artingstall reached the Grand Prix final on May 8 but was withdrawn as a precautionary measure ahead of the qualifier. But she boxed three times, winning them all, often in style, moving well on her feet and lining up heavy straight one-twos. All the more impressive as Karriss was returning after 18 months out.

“It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. Some weeks you’re on fire and you’re ready to go to a tournament and then before you know it, it gets snatched away from you,” Artingstall told Boxing News. “It’s up and down constantly for the past 12, 16 months.

“All the ringrust and that will be gone after this tournament and I’ll be firing for the qualifiers.”

Kariss Artingstall
GB Boxing

In her first bout at the Grand Prix, Artingstall beat experienced Pole Sandra Kruk, then handed defeats to the host nation’s Lenka Bernardova and Finland’s Vilma Viitanen. Karriss has continued to improve. “I’m a much better more dangerous fighter I think,” she said. “We’ve had time to build on ourselves but then at the same time we’ve just not been in the ring. The qualifiers have been pushed back etc. But it’s just nice to have it all in sight now and in arm’s reach. Again.

“The whole point of the qualifiers is so you can earn your spot on the plane to Tokyo. But it doesn’t just stop there for me. Obviously I want to earn my points and get gold in the qualifier as well. The better I do in the qualifier the better the position is for me at the Olympics. It’s not just about qualifying, it’s about getting on top of the podium,” she continued. “You go into a tournament, you don’t want to just get bronze, regardless of what the tournament is. You want gold. You want to be at the top and I want to be the best 57kgs in the world.

“The opponents are top class on my side of the draw [for the qualifier] but I’m familiar with all of them so I know what I need to do to get the job done.

“I’ll be ready.”