By Andy Baber in Birmingham
Kerry Davis had to block out the noise from a rowdy NEC after admitting to feeling overwhelmed by the task of leading the way for Team England’s boxers at Birmingham 2022.
The Cheltenham fighter, who grew up playing football before switching to boxing after discovering it as a teenager, had the honour of being the first home fighter on the card.
And the 25-year-old rose to occasion with a dominant win on points over Ghana’s Ornella Sathoud, taking the fight on four of the five judges’ scorecards.
Davis will now have the opportunity to fight for a medal after coming through the last 16 contest but she revealed that the scale of the occasion got to her more than she expected.
“It was good, it was very loud and there were a lot of people but I just tried to block that out and focus on my boxing. I felt really good in the ring,” said the middleweight, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
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“I felt like I started a bit slow but once I got into it, I felt I was fine. It’s mad as I was the first girl on and the first England boxer on so it was a bit overwhelming.
“But like I said I just tried to block everything else out and focus on the boxing. The aim is a gold medal, I think that’s what we’ve all come for and my next fight will be for a medal.”
Davis made her IBA World Championship bow earlier this year, reaching the quarter-finals and she hopes that experience will help in her quest for a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
“I just want to focus on winning that now, not looking beyond that,” she said. “We had the Worlds in May and straight after that we had a week off and then back in the gym preparing for this.
“The World Championships 100 percent prepared me for this. It was my biggest tournament before this and it was a very good experience for this so hopefully that will come in handy.
“We’re all going to do amazing, we’re all here supporting each other. The rest of the team were all cheering me on during my fight, I could hear them, so we’ve got a great team.”
Also in action on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games were the men’s and women’s sevens teams, with the two sides enjoying mixed fortunes in their first two games.
Team England’s women, led by Hartpury College graduate Abbie Brown, hit the ground running at Coventry Stadium with a thumping 57-0 win over Sri Lanka as Alicia Maude scored a brace.
But the men’s team, which included Gloucester-born captain Alex Davis and Cheltenham’s Calum Randle, were stunned 34-0 by Samoa in what proved to be a one-sided contest.
In the evening games, the men bounced back with a 47-19 victory over Sri Lanka while the women lost a thriller with Canada 26-19 as Megan Jones made her first appearance.
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