Friday 30 September 2016

LIVE: Watch Katie Taylor fight for European Games gold

Bernard O'Neill

Published 27/06/2015 | 02:30

Katie Taylor scores with a left on her way to beating Yana Alekseevna in their lightweight semi-final in Baku
Katie Taylor scores with a left on her way to beating Yana Alekseevna in their lightweight semi-final in Baku

Estelle Mossely has vowed to bring Katie Taylor's dominance of women's boxing to an end in Baku this afternoon. Will she be right?

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"I can beat her. Of course it's possible to beat her," said the confident French fighter ahead of going head-to-head with Taylor for gold in the 60kg (lightweight) class at 2.0pm Irish time.

Mossely, who comfortably beat Germany's Tasheena Bugar yesterday, has been studying Taylor and believes she can get it right at the third time of asking - Ireland's five-time world champion beat her in the 2013 European Union Championships final and again in the European Elite decider last year.

"I fought her twice and lost twice, but I know her and I have studied her on film. I can beat her. I think this one will be the closest of all our meetings. I'm going to win."

Watch the fight live below:

The French fighter, who has won 96 of her 124 bouts, will have been encouraged by Taylor's nervous split- decision victory over Azerbaijan's Yana Alexseevna in front of a partisan home crowd in her semi-final.

With the scoring leaning in favour of home boxers in tight rounds throughout the tournament, Alexseevna split the judges in her favour in rounds one and three.

Taylor, who beat the Azeri on a unanimous verdict in the World Elite Championships final in Korea last November, took the second and fourth rounds on two of the three cards to leave the bout tied at 38-38 at the final bell.

That meant it went back to the judges for a 'preferred verdict' and the Polish and Finnish judges gave Taylor the nod. The Chinese judge opted for Alexseevna, who was born in Russia and who once boxed for the Ukraine.

Taylor found the target with the majority of cleaner and solid shots and, had the fight been at a different venue, the Olympic champion would have secured a more outright victory.

Nevertheless, it was a tight affair and the closest Taylor has come to losing for only the eighth time in her illustrious 166-bout career since edging Turkey's Gulsum Tatar on a countback after a draw at the 2005 European Championships.

There was a noticeable look of relief on the Olympic champion's face as she was declared the winner.

Hopeful

"I was always hopeful and just praying. It was a close fight - it was always going to be like that. She's a top boxer. I'm just happy to have got through," admitted Taylor.

As for today's showdown with Mossely, Taylor said: "I've fought her a couple of times and she's always been a tricky opponent, quite cagey. I'll talk to my dad about tactics and that sort of stuff. It's going to be another tough battle."

Portlaoise middleweight Michael O'Reilly received a bye into the 75kg decider after Russia's Maxim Koptyakov failed a medical because of a facial cut he received in the quarter-finals.

O'Reilly will have it all to do to claim gold as he takes on Xaybula Musalov of Azerbaijan at approximately 3.15pm.

"Without doubt, home advantage is a factor," said Ireland head coach Billy Walsh. "I thought Katie won every round today. She did most of the scoring throughout the four rounds, but it was a tight fight. The Azeri girl is tough, but Katie won it. Hopefully the judging will be fair on Michael.

"The French girl will be another test for Katie. It was close enough in the European final last year."

Belfast lightweight Sean McComb had to settle for bronze after losing on a unanimous decision to former World Elite champion Albert Selimov of Azerbaijan.

"I've nothing to be ashamed of," admitted McComb. "He's currently ranked number one in the WSB and he's qualified for Rio. I learned a lot."

European Games,

Live, Setanta Ireland, 11.50am

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