Saturday 19 August 2017

Taylor backs Desmond for stardom after bronze success at Europeans

Katie Taylor:
Katie Taylor: "There definitely are girls out there who can make an impact." Photo: Reuters

Ciarán Gallagher

Katie Taylor has backed Christina Desmond to become a future star following her European medal success.

Cork middleweight Desmond picked up bronze at yesterday's medal ceremony for the European Elite Women's Championships in Sofia after reaching the last four of her 75kg weight class.

The 20-year-old southpaw was considered unlucky to lose a split-decision semi-final call against Maily Nicar of France, with Irish head coach Zaur Antia claiming Desmond "destroyed" her opponent.

With Taylor set to formally depart the amateur ranks as the former Olympic champion makes her pro debut in London this weekend, the Irish women's team can no longer rely on the Bray woman as its star attraction.

But Taylor believes that the future is bright for Desmond as she suggested the Cork woman - who is highly decorated at youth level - can progress to bigger things.

"Christina is absolutely fantastic, she's had a great year so far, and she's only so young as well," said Taylor. "I think she's one that can do really well over the next few years. There definitely are girls out there who can make an impact.

Dedicated

"I think the likes of Shauna, she's definitely dedicated and shows a great attitude," added the six-time European champion referring to Shauna O'Keeffe, who filled the 60kg lightweight spot in Sofia in Taylor's absence.

Desmond's success means she is only the third Irish woman to medal at the tournament after Taylor and Clare Grace. However, it was a disappointing tournament overall for Ireland as the rest of the seven-woman team failed to reach the podium with world silver medallist Kellie Harrington and O'Keeffe both falling at the quarter-final stage.

Taylor admitted that female Irish boxers face a tough challenge in terms of hitting Government funding criteria, but the Bray woman suggested that the women's amateur set-up has improved in the last year under head coach Antia.

"It is very, very tough. You have to be winning medals as well to get that funding," said Taylor.

"They're not just going to be giving the funding out to anyone, they have to obviously prove themselves.

"(But) I think it (the women's set-up) has definitely has improved over the last year," added the five-time world amateur champion, who will make her paid debut live on Sky Sports at London's Wembley Arena on Saturday.

The 30-year-old takes on Polish journeywoman Karina Kopinska in the first of a series of bouts lined up by her new promoter Eddie Hearn and manager Brian Peters.

Irish Independent

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