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Gold not a given for excellent Taylor

Katie Taylor has been in impressive form at the European Championships but it doesn’t mean she will have it all her own way next summer.

Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

SHOULD SHE RECORD victory in her European Championship final on Saturday evening, then Katie Taylor would yet again be the toast of Ireland. However, there is an argument that defeat for the Bray woman in Rotterdam could be the best thing to happen her, with next year’s Olympics in mind.

Perhaps it’s because her fights are rarely televised, but Katie Taylor is very much flying under the radar in 2011. Energy drink adverts aside, we don’t see her – even at this week’s games in Holland, a competition which dad Peter Taylor says is as tough as the World.

Taylor has been in top form though, and her four victories to date have come with relative ease and a combined score line of 79-25. On Saturday, in her final against Sofya Ochigava, Taylor fights a woman who she will likely have to defeat to win gold in London.

Ochigava and Taylor have history. Last March, the Russian beat our Katie in the Czech Republic, Taylor’s first defeat in three years. Their fight in the Czech Republic was regarded as controversial but looking at the video of the contest it’s clear that it was a reasonable decision to give the decision to Ochigava, if not quite by the 8-1 final score.

Saturday will be the first time they have met since – Ochigava was omitted from the Russian team for last year’s World Championships, and the decision was perceived as one designed to keep the pair apart. The Russian has also struggled with a knee injury but looks to have returned to her best in Holland.


Returning home, and next summer will be all about Katie Taylor ahead of London. Expectation for her to win gold will be stratospheric, the likes of which we will not have seen since Sonia O’Sullivan went to Atlanta as a nailed-on double gold medallist. Yet as her fights with Ochigava and Queen Underwood in last year’s World Championships show, Taylor is no longer in a comfortable position the best woman boxer in the world. Everyone else is catching up with her.

That said, if she wins in Holland, then Joe Public will see Taylor enter 2012 as a five-time European Champion, a three-time World champion and a friend of Tinie Tempah. Gold will be demanded, despite the mammoth task that is. Lose the final, on a reasonably big stage (i.e. it’s in the sports news) and people might just realise that.

Then again, boxers box. Taylor will be gunning for the win. The fight is at 6:00 Irish time and can be watched here… http://www.europeanwomenboxingchampionships.com/Live.aspx

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In a rare positive move for the organisation, the WBC have awarded Bernard Hopkins their light-heavyweight belt despite his bizarre loss to Chad Dawson last Saturday. Hopkins withdrew from the fight in Los Angeles after sustaining a shoulder injury towards the end of the second round – though he was bowled over, literally, this was counted as a technical knockout.


A rematch is likely, but unconfirmed at this stage.

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Belfast’s Martin Rogan is out of action for the remainder of the year. The former Prizefighter winner was looking to make a comeback against fellow veteran Matt Skelton but an ankle injury has led to a postponement of their planned bout next month. Rogan is now targeting a ring return next March.

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This Week in Boxing History

Gerald McClellan’s fight against Nigel Benn in February of 1995 is one of the most dramatic fights ever to take place in a British ring. There aren’t many contests that inspire a book on their own, with a chapter for each round, but that accolade goes to this fight courtesy of Kevin Mitchell’s superb War Baby. However, it’s shameful end means only very rarely are images of it ever shown.

As he celebrates his 45th birthday tomorrow, Gerald McClellan will do so as a shadow of his former self. A blood clot developed in his brain and the American lay in a coma for eleven days after the fight – he suffered extensive brain damage, lost his sight and also much of his hearing. However, for fans he will always be remembered as a fearsome fighter, and a terrifically powerful puncher. He was at his best in his two late wins over Julian Jackson, victories which formed part of a 14-fight run of knockout wins.


READ – Familiar foe awaits Taylor in European final

READ – You said what? Here’s our 16 favourite Rugby World Cup quotes

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Gavin Grace

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