Katie Taylor vying for 60th consecutive win tonight in Cork
The ‘Road to Rio’ begins in earnest for Olympic title holder Katie Taylor this weekend with two fights inside 24 hours.
Tonight at the Mallow GAA Complex in north Cork the five time World champion bids for her 60th consecutive win when she takes on 20 year old Serbian native, Jelena Jelic who now represents her adopted country Sweden.
She boxed in the 60kg lightweight at the inaugural European Games in Baku last year reaching the quarter-finals in a tournament in which Taylor won her 18th championship title.
In the continued absence of her long-time coach Pete Taylor, Katie’s corner for the four round bout against Jelic will be manned by her brother Lee and Head Irish coach Zaur Antia. The show is being promoted by Kanturk Boxing Club.
On Saturday night the action moves west to the Bandon Hotel in Tralee where, Taylor who has a perfect 44-0 record in Ireland, takes on 31 year American Queen Underwood in what may be the latter’s last bout as an amateur.
Having failed to win the American Olympic trials, which were overseen by former Head Irish coach Billy Walsh, Underwood has indicated that she is turning professional after this week’s visit to Ireland.
This will be the fourth clash between the pair with Underwood seeking her first win over the Bray pugilist. She did come within seconds of fashioning a sensational upset against the Irish girl in the semi-finals of the World championship in Barbados in 2010.
Taylor was ill prior to the fight and became dehydrated in the final round which allowed the American to briefly take the lead on the then computerised scoring system.
But Taylor, whose overall record is a remarkable 161-7 underlined her steely resolve by snatching the fight in the closing seconds on a 18-16 score.
This weekend’s two fights are part of Taylor’s preparation for an Olympic qualifying tournament scheduled for Samsun in Turkey in April. The two finalists in the lightweight category at the tournament will qualify for Rio.
Ireland’s two other Olympic hopeful in women’s boxing, middleweight Christina Desmond and flyweight Michaela Walsh will also compete in Samsun and they are travelling along with a men’s team to participate in a multi-nation tournament in Sofia next week.
The main qualifying tournament for women’s boxers aiming for Rio will come at the women’s World Boxing championships scheduled for Astana in Kazakhstan in May where four boxers in each of the three Olympic category will secure their place in Rio.