Sunday 25 March 2018

Taylor braced for joust with featherweight number one Dobrynina

Katie Taylor has been ranked number one at lightweight for the last nine years. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Katie Taylor has been ranked number one at lightweight for the last nine years. Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Bernard O'Neill

Olympic champion Katie Taylor could meet a World No 1 at the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Russia's Zinaida Dobrynina has moved up from featherweight (57kg) to Taylor's lightweight (60kg) class for the tournament.

Dobrynina, who is ranked World No 1 at feather, claimed 57kg gold directly before Taylor won the 60kg class at the World Elite Championships in Korea last November.

Taylor, who has been ranked No 1 at lightweight for the last nine years, will join the Irish squad in Baku on Monday. Boxing at the Games begins on June 16.

"It drives you on having Katie in the team. She's done so much and is so down-to-earth. It's good to have someone there like her, a big champion," said the Irish Elite champion Kurt Walker.

Irish head coach Billy Walsh reckons that the experience of competing in such a big tournament will be invaluable for his fighters.


"To get this kind of experience a year-and-a-half out from the Olympics is phenomenal," he said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Meanwhile, Joe Ward weighed in at 81kg on the button in Sofia yesterday ahead of his crucial AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) clash with French light-heavy Mathieu Bauderlique tonight.

If Ward wins he will face either Bulgaria's Spas Genov or Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius, who also meet in Sofia tonight, for a place at the Rio 2016 Games and the 2015 APB light-heavy final.

Bauderlique has returned to APB from the pro ranks where he won nine straight fights.

Genov, who Ward has already beaten this season, will be favoured to see off St Pierre.

"Joe can beat anyone on his day, but the French lad is strong and it is going to be tough," said Irish coach Eddie Bolger, who will be working Ward's corner with John Conlan tonight.

The remaining National U-18 finals will be decided at Dublin's National Stadium today, starting at 11.00am.

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