Monday 26 September 2016

Katie Taylor gets straight back to winning ways to ease Rio worries

Sean McGoldrick

Published 17/04/2016 | 14:04

17 April 2016; Katie Taylor, Ireland, left, celebrates after beating Svetlana Staneva, Bulgaria, in their Women's Lightweight 57-60kg Box-Off bout. AIBA 2016 European Olympic Qualification Tournament Event. Samsun, Turkey. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
17 April 2016; Katie Taylor, Ireland, left, celebrates after beating Svetlana Staneva, Bulgaria, in their Women's Lightweight 57-60kg Box-Off bout. AIBA 2016 European Olympic Qualification Tournament Event. Samsun, Turkey. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

It was business as usual for Olympic champion Katie Taylor at the Olympic qualifier in Samsun today when she comfortably beat Bulgaria's Svetlana Staneva in a box off for third place.

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After her loss to Yana Alekseevna all eyes were on the Bray lightweight. In terms of her natural ability she was a better boxer than the Bulgarian who lost in the semi-final to 18 year old Italian Irma Testa.

But this fight was a mental challenge for Taylor as Friday's defeat was her first since 2011 and her first in a significant tournament since 2006 when as in Turkey her father Pete was not in her corner.

She responded magnificently to the challenge controlling the fight. By the end of the third rounds she had essentially won the contest after getting the nod 10-9 from all three judges in each of the three rounds up to that point.

The scoring was odd to put it mildly in the last round; one judge gave the round to the Bulgarian; one judge voted it 10-8 in favour of Taylor while the third judge gave Katie the round 10-9. It didn't matter in the overall context of the fight as Taylor cruised to a unanimous 3-0 win (39-37; 40; 35, 40-36)

The win eases the pressure on Taylor ahead of the World championships in Kazakhstan where she must reach the semi-final in order to secure for qualification for the Rio Olympics where she hopes to defend her 60kg title which she won in London.

But this win means that Taylor could automatically qualify for Rio regardless of how she performances at the World championships next month.

Today's final between Alekseevna and Testa was an incredibly tight contest with two of the judges marking it level 38-38 each. The other judge gave it to the Azeri boxer and she got the verdict on the nod of the other two officials.

So in the event of Alekseevna securing a place in the semi-final of the 60kg category at next month's World championships in Astana then Taylor will go to the Olympics regardless of how they fare in Astana.

Of course, Taylor will be aiming for a record sixth consecutive World title in Kazakhstan and a place in the semi-final at the championships will be sufficient to guarantee her a place at the Rio Olympics regardless of how today's fight goes.

But this victory is a sort of insurance policy for Taylor particularly in the event of the AIBA not using seeding as happened at the last World championships in South Korea in 2014.

So even though Taylor remains the number one ranked light weight in the world she could be conceivably drawn against Alekseevna in the first round in Astana. But in terms of Olympic qualification this doesn't matter now.

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