Saturday 1 October 2016

'Losing her Dad absolutely had an effect' - Mick Dowling on Katie Taylor's Rio defeat

Tom Rooney

Published 15/08/2016 | 16:43

15 August 2016; Katie Taylor of Ireland reacts after her defeat to Mira Potkonen of Finland in their Lightweight quarter-final bout in the Riocentro Pavillion 6 Arena, Barra da Tijuca, during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
15 August 2016; Katie Taylor of Ireland reacts after her defeat to Mira Potkonen of Finland in their Lightweight quarter-final bout in the Riocentro Pavillion 6 Arena, Barra da Tijuca, during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Both Mick Dowling and Bernard Dunne have said that it is impossible not to link the continued absence of Katie Taylor’s father from her corner and the crushing loss to Mira Potkonen in the quarter final of the women’s lightweight bracket in Rio earlier today

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As Katie Taylor struggled to merely speak in the direct aftermath of her split decision loss to the 35-year-old Potkonen, which saw the Bray women relinquish the Olympic crown she so gloriously won in London four years ago, the RTÉ panel began a tentative, but scathing autopsy.

Beginning with Michael O’Reilly’s failed drugs test, and then the shock defeats of Paddy Barnes and Joe Ward and the latter eliminations of David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly and Brendan Irvine, the Rio games have proven a nadir in the recent history of Irish boxing.

Many have speculated that the absence of long time coach Billy Walsh, who is currently guiding America’s boxers, had finally comeback to haunt the IABA.

But there seemed to be little worry that Taylor would falter so early, particularly against a fighter she had defeated on multiple occasions.

However, her two high profile losses at the European Olympic qualifiers and at the World Amateur Championships, proved to be harbingers of today’s failure.

Without her father, Pete, who has guided Taylor for the vast majority of her gilded career, it would appear she is not the force of old.

Speaking to RTÉ, Mick Dowling certainly contended as much.

“I always say not to change a winning formula. She had the winning formula when she had her dad in the corner, and Zaur Antia (current head coach) worked in that corner all of the time, too, it wasn’t like he wasn’t involved in that corner.

“To lose her dad, has to have an effect, it absolutely has to have an affect. Perhaps I’m a little bit biased because I saw her landing good, clean punches, but maybe I just see Katie Taylor. And, perhaps, maybe all of us are guilty of doing that at times.”

Dowling explained that Taylor’s porous defence may have ultimately cost her the fight or, more worryingly for the Bray women, the clock had caught up with her.

“She did land some really good right hands over the top, some good left hooks. I think, if anything, her defence was a little bit suspect; she was getting caught by the long punches from Potkonen.

“Perhaps Katie needed to just tighten that up a little bit. Very seldom did we see Katie with a tight defence. She depends so much on her skill, ability to avoid punches and quick reflexes.

“I don’t know, perhaps at 30, and Potkonen, believe it or not, is 35, that maybe Katie’s reflexes are that little fraction not what the used to be.

“She was getting caught on the end of some punches there, but it’s a huge, huge disappointment. For us as an Irish boxing team at the Olympics things are just getting worse,” he said.

Bernard Dunne concurred with Dowling, and also questioned the game plan Taylor was given by her relatively new corner and the inability to refine it between rounds.

“I though the scoring in the third round cost her when one of the judges went against her, and then she was chasing the fight.

“When she was going forward she was throwing that jab and then the right hand, but she was getting caught all the time. We knew the one weapon that Potkonen had was the long right hand, and she got hit with it I don’t know how many times.

“Their tactics should have been aware if that. They should haven been staying to Katie’s right, way down low when she was throwing it and getting out of the way of it.”

Dunne rubbished the notion that Taylor has a reputation for deviating from coach’s instruction, particularly when those instructions were coming from her father.

“Since when? Katie has always had her dad in the corner and she has always listened to him. Over the last couple of months her corner has been changed but Katie is clever and she does listen.

“I just think nervousness got to her, she wasn’t letting her hands. Where were the three or four shots ort stepping out to the side? “

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