Friday 23 February 2018

Taylor digs deep to reach final

Katie Taylor has booked her place in the final of the women's lightweight boxing final in Baku
Katie Taylor has booked her place in the final of the women's lightweight boxing final in Baku

Katie Taylor revealed how her fear of losing spurred her to pull out a big last round and book her place in Saturday's women's lightweight final at the European Games in Baku.

Taylor's four-year winning streak looked in grave danger of coming to an end as she trailed going into the last round against Azerbaijan's World Championship silver medallist Yana Alekseevna.

But Taylor defied a braying home crowd and did enough to earn a wafer-thin split decision win which takes her into a gold medal clash against Estelle Mossely of France.

Taylor said: "I know how it feels to lose. I think it's important to feel those losses because I never want to feel like that again.

"I knew I was down after the third round so I had to go out and put the pressure on her and try to win it clearly. The last round was all about heart and thank God I pulled through."

Taylor had dropped the first round on two of the three judges' cards but levelled it after an exciting second in which her cleaner, more aggressive work paid off.

In an exciting third, Taylor's greater aggression was not rewarded as once again the sharp work of Alekseeva edged her ahead on the cards, paving the way for Taylor's fine last round.

Taylor admitted she endured some anxious moments in the aftermath as the Azerbaijani coaches celebrated as if they fully expected the verdict to go their way.

Taylor added: "It was always going to be a close fight because she's a top boxer but I felt I won a lot of those rounds quite clearly.

"I always go into a fighting thinking the decision is going to be fair and I relish these fights where the atmosphere is so fantastic."

There was more good news for Ireland as Michael O'Reilly advanced to the men's middleweight final when his scheduled Russian opponent Maxim Koptyakov was forced to withdraw from the competition with an eye injury.

But Belfast lightweight Sean McComb will have to settle for a bronze medal after he was comfortably outpointed by impressive Azerbaijani world number one Albert Selimov.

Press Association

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