Monday 22 January 2018

Taylor cruises into last eight as fight hots up for Games spot

Bernard O'Neill

KATIE TAYLOR may have to go all the way to the lightweight final at the Women's World Championships in China to guarantee herself qualification for the London Olympics.

The Bray woman, who is aiming for her fourth World title in a row, stopped Saida Khassenova of Kazakhstan yesterday to book her ticket into the last eight.

The fight was halted by the referee late in the fourth and final round after Khassenova took a third standing count.

Taylor, who was 20-8 ahead at the time, will now meet Romania's Mihaela Lacatus this morning.

Lacatus, who claimed bantamweight gold at the 2005 World Championships, disappeared off the international circuit in '07. However, she returned this year to win the Romanian bantamweight (54kg) title and then moved up to lightweight (60kg) in an attempt to qualify for the Olympics.

Three Olympic places are available for European boxers in the lightweight class. Six Europeans, including Taylor and Lacatus, are through to the quarter-finals.

The other qualifiers are Russia's Sofya Ochigava, Norway's Ingrid Egner, England's Natasha Jonas and France's Estelle Mossely.

tricky

Two of today's quarter-finals (Taylor v Lacatus and Egner v Jonas) are all-European affairs, meaning that, if Ochigava and Mossely win, four Europeans will be into the last four fighting it out for those three Olympic berths.

Adrian Araujo of Brazil and Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan -- who both qualify for the Olympics by virtue of being the last boxers from their continents left standing -- make up the last-eight pairings.

Speaking after yesterday's win, No 1 seed Taylor said that Khassenova was a tricky customer.

"She was a much better opponent and she was technically very good. I didn't expect to stop her easily," she said.

Taylor's coach and father, Peter Taylor, who is working Ireland's corner in Qinhuangdao along with Zuar Antia, added: "We were a little bit worried about the funny angle she was coming in at. We just told Katie to do a lot of feinting, a lot of jab work and to keep her distance. She did that great."

Meanwhile, Cavan BC flyweight Ceire Smith bowed out yesterday despite a brave last-16 performance against Poland's former World and European champion Anna Michalczuk.

The referee stopped the contest in the third round, with Michalczuk 23-7 ahead.

Irish Independent

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