Saturday 17 February 2018

Boxing: Taylor's pure talent brings opponents to their knees

Katie Taylor on her way to beating Switzerland's Sandra Brugger at the Royal Hotel, Bray
Katie Taylor on her way to beating Switzerland's Sandra Brugger at the Royal Hotel, Bray
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

The blinding purity of Katie Taylor's talent directs even her opponents to wish only good things for the world champion.

Ingrid Egner stepped from a pool room in Bray's Royal Hotel on Saturday night, her cheeks still flushed from the exertion of a third consecutive defeat to Taylor, saying: "I think she's the most explosive female amateur boxer at this time. It's my opinion that Katie's the best, across all the categories."

The Norwegian lightweight, ranked No 5 in the world, lost a unanimous verdict in a genuine four-round contest that unfurled the full repertoire of Taylor's extraordinary ring-craft.

And watching ringside was Switzerland's Sandra Brugger, a former European finalist dispatched with similar aplomb on Friday night.

"Yes, I wish her to do it," said Brugger, when asked if Taylor might be crowned Olympic champion in August. "She's the best. I love watching her box."

Taylor, the three-times world and five-times European champion, must still formally qualify for the London Games, but everything about her style and conditioning over the weekend offered hope that she is on a defining march now.

The first two rounds against the aggressive Egner were relatively even but, thereafter, Taylor dominated, catching the molecular biologist with an array of clean shots that were palpably draining.

A relieved Taylor, in competitive action for the first time since claiming her fifth European crown last October, admitted: "There was a lot of pressure coming into these fights because everyone always expects me to win. The standard of these girls is getting better and better all the time, so it's important I keep improving with them and keep a few steps ahead.

"But these fights always feel a bit easier than the sparring sessions I have in the High Performance gym with the likes of Michael Conlan, John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes and Tyrone McCullough.

"None of the girls are going to be as good as them. The only difference here is having to deal with the mental pressure."

Taylor goes to China in May to defend her world crown in an event that will double as the only Olympic qualifier for women's boxing.

And Egner, beaten in her home town of Oslo by a teenaged Taylor making her international debut in 2004, believes she too can make the podium in London.

"Yes, I hope for a medal too," said Egner. "But qualifying is going to be really hard. And I think everyone will be hoping to avoid Katie in the draw."

Taylor's performances over the weekend delighted the local crowd in an event organised by her father and coach, Pete.

She admitted afterwards: "I know nearly everyone here, so I was very nervous before the fights.

"You can do all the sparring in the world, but it's not really the same as getting in the ring and boxing.

"So it's great to get these fights under my belt now. I've a very, very busy few months ahead now with fights in The Stadium, an international against Holland and a couple of training camps before China."

Irish Independent

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