Boxing: Taylor's focus switches to Olympics after World glory
KATIE TAYLOR claimed her third AIBA World title on the trot, scooped the boxer of the tournament award and landed a lucrative three-year sponsorship deal with Digicel chief Denis O'Brien in Barbados on Saturday.
The weekend's triumph at the sixth Women's World Championships was also her 100th career victory from 106 starts since 2001, but other than that it was just another routine day for Ireland's most successful athlete of the 21st century.
Taylor landed a historic treble following an emphatic 18-5 verdict over Chinese lightweight Cheng Dong to claim her third gold at this level since 2006.
The 60kg final was a repeat of the 2008 World decider in which the 24-year-old Bray woman hammered Dong 13-2 to land her second World title in Ningbo city, China.
And Taylor, the reigning European and European Union champion, also scooped the best boxer award from the 75-nation tournament, an award she also bagged in Ningbo two years ago.
All eyes will now be on the 2012 AIBA World Championships in Chongqing, China, which will act as the only qualifier for female boxers for the London Olympics. Thirty-six Olympic places across three weight categories -- flyweight, lightweight and middleweight -- will be up for grabs for female fighters in China early in 2012.
Meanwhile, Saturday's victory confirms Taylor as the best pound-for-pound female boxer on the planet, but the golden girl of world amateur boxing is still waiting for it all to sink in.
"I can't believe it really. It's a fantastic feeling to have retained my title out here," she said.
"Having five bouts in a week at the World Championships was very tough and very demanding.
"The level of support we got out here was amazing and I would like to thank everyone for coming along to the championships and cheering the Irish team on. My main focus now is the Olympic Games and we will see what happens after that."
Ceire Smith, Allana Murphy and Sinead Kavanagh were also in action in Barbados and Katie's dad and coach Peter, who was working the Irish squad corner along with Zuar Antia, was full of praise for their efforts.
"The girls gave it everything they had. They boxed out of their skin and represented their country with pride. Katie was absolutely brilliant on Saturday night.
"I think that was her best performance in three years and we're absolutely thrilled with the victory.
"She'll take a break for a few weeks now. She's been competing at the highest level for the last few months as she also won her third European Union title last month followed by her third World title on Saturday.
"To win three in a row is an incredible achievement. Katie has won three World titles, four European titles and three European Union titles in the last few years. What other Irish athlete has ever achieved that?"
IABA director of boxing Dominic O'Rourke hailed the 2008 AIBA World female boxer of the year as outstanding and team manager Stephen Connolly described the three-time world champ as an absolute gem.
"The people handing out the Irish sports star of the year awards would want to have a look at what is happening here. Ireland has an absolute gem in Katie Taylor," Connolly said.
Taylor scored 84 points en route to gold in Barbados and conceded 29. She won her first World title in New Delhi in 2006 and successfully defended her crown two years later in China.