Monday 10 December 2018

Taylor motivated by new generation

Katie Taylor kicks off her campaign in the European Games in Baku on Sunday
Katie Taylor kicks off her campaign in the European Games in Baku on Sunday

Katie Taylor is ready to rise to the challenge being posed by a new generation of women's boxing talent as she prepares to launch her campaign for yet another major title at the European Games in Baku.

The 28-year-old Olympic and five-time world champion has led a revolution in her sport and believes it will only get harder to maintain her dominance as new young fighters target her crown.

Taylor, who faces Russian lightweight Denitsa Eliseeva, said: "The standard of women's boxing has got so much tougher since the Olympics and in the years to come it is going to make my competition even tougher.

"I remember when I was 17 seeing the world champions, they are the ones you want to beat, and I definitely think some of the girls coming up have got the same attitude.

"I want to stay at the top and continue making history and be regarded as the best of all time, so it is definitely a motivational factor for me. I need those goals and dreams when I wake up every morning."

Five women's weight categories are being contested in Baku - two more than at the Olympics, despite suggestions in the wake of its successful debut at London 2012 that the women's divisions would be increased for Rio.

And Taylor believes it is imperative for the continued growth of women's boxing that more female fighters are given the opportunity to do battle on the biggest stage.

"We've only got three weights, so so many female boxers are missing out," she added. "It's heartbreaking and I'd love to lead the push for at least five weights - it would be perfect for female boxing and I would love to push for that legacy."

One young fighter aiming to emulate Taylor is Belfast bantamweight Michaela Walsh, who had pushed Nicola Adams hard in the final of last year's Commonwealth Games but was unanimously outpointed in her opening bout in Baku by experienced Russian Elena Savelyeva.

Walsh said: "I came here for the gold medal and it's disappointing, but I'll learn from it. It's all experience for Rio. Gold in Rio is what I'm aiming for and with the help of God I'll go and get it."

Irish gymnast Kieran Behan narrowly missed out on a medal when he finished fourth in the men's floor final behind winner Rayderley Zapata Santana of Spain.

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