By Tom Degun

Savannah Marshall_1_19_MayMay 19 - Birthday girl Savannah Marshall has ensured her place in history as she became Britain's first-ever female amateur boxing world champion with victory in the gold-medal match at the International Boxing Association (AIBA) Women's World Boxing Championships in China.

Having already ensured her spot at London 2012 by reaching the final, in a tournament that serves as the only qualifying event for women's boxing, the 21-year-old middleweight (75kg category) from Hartlepool (pictured top) claimed a narrow 17-15 victory over Elena Vystropova of Azerbaijan to take Britain's only gold medal in Qinhuangdao.

In a tight affair, the scores were level at 3-3 but Marshall (pictured below, in blue) managed to build a two-point lead over her opponent by using her jab to good effect and catching the Azeri with some superb shots.

Vystropova was always in the contest but after the final two rounds were drawn, Marshall claimed the gold medal to mark the end of a perfect tournament.

"It's been an amazing week, and to come away as world champion and with a place at the Olympics is pretty incredible," she said following the victory.

"It's great to go one better than the last time [when she secured silver in the 69kg final in 2010] and now I am just looking forward to the Olympics and making sure I am in the best possible shape to be successful in London."

Savannah Marshall_versus_Elena_Vystropova_19_May
Team-mate Nicola Adams, the 29-year-old flyweight (51kg) from Leeds, was forced to settle for her third consecutive World Championships silver after narrowly losing her final 14-10 to home favourite Ren Cancan of China.

Cancan edged ahead at the end of the first round with a 2-0 lead and extended it to four points by the end of round two.

Adams, who had already secured an Olympic spot by making the semi-final, upped her work rate in the third to reduce the gap but Cancan managed to keep the British star at bay in the last round to finish a 14-10 winner.

"I wanted the gold today and sadly it was not to be, although overall I have to be happy with this week as I have reached a third World Championship final and guaranteed my place at London," she said.

"The Olympic Games is the big prize and I hope to go one step further in London."

Meanwhile in the lightweight (60kg) final – the other weight category that will feature at the Olympic Games – Irish superstar Katie Taylor (pictured below) struck gold with an 11-7 victory over Sofya Ochigava of Russia.

The 25-year-old from Bray took an astonishing fourth consecutive world title to underline her status as huge gold medal favourite for London 2012.

Earlier in the week, Britain's Natasha Jonas secured a bronze medal and, like Marshall and Adams, an Olympic spot by making the lightweight semi-final.

However, the 27-year-old from Liverpool lost to Ochigava in the final four to miss out on a gold-medal showdown with Taylor.

Katie Taylor_19_May
However, Jonas' semi-final appearance means Britain will be represented at all three Olympic weights in the women's boxing event at the ExCeL during this summer's Games, with the sport will be making its Olympic debut.

"This is a great end to a superb week for amateur boxing in Great Britain that has seen the whole team box extremely well," said GB Boxing's performance director, Rob McCracken.

"Savannah has performed superbly throughout the competition and to come away as world champion from such a tough draw in a high-class field is an indication of her immense talent.

"She is still very young yet this was her second appearance in a World Championship final and, as long as she continues to work hard, Savannah can achieve anything she wants in this sport.

"Since we stared the women's programme in 2010, all the squad have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are today.

"Their achievements are a well-deserved reward for their dedication and commitment, and a fitting tribute to the superb efforts of the all the coaches and back-up team that have supported them every step of the way."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
May 2012: Marshall joins women's boxing team-mates in booking London 2012 berth
May 2012: British women boxers make history by securing London 2012 spots
May 2012: GB women boxers compete for only chance of Olympic qualification
May 2012: Alan Hubbard - Acting extra Adams hungry to take centre stage, rather than a walk-on part, in London 2012 boxing ring
April 2012: British trio of Adams, Jonas and Marshall selected for Women's World Boxing Championships