Taylor takes off in style
Olympic Boxing:Katie Taylor brought the women’s boxing tournament to life with a powerful and emotional performance in London’s ExCel Arena today. The World lightweight champion destroyed Britain’s Natasha Jonas 26-15 to secure the bronze medal and set up a semi-final meeting with Mavzuna Chorieva.
In doing so Taylor became the first lightweight woman to ever win an Olympic bronze medal as she was the opening bout in the division’s schedule.
“Yeah it’s been a long wait, but it is what it is,” said her father and coach Pete. “We’ve been waiting for 10 years to get women’s boxing here. We’ve been waiting for so long and to win the first fight in the Olympic Games, it’s history, isn’t it?"
If she and Pete had any concerns about the partisan support for the British athletes, that was quickly allayed as the ExCel Arena rose to meet her. With Irish flags equalling Union Jacks and the cheering for Taylor easily matching that for Jonas, Taylor eased into the fight but took a 5-2 lead after two minutes with her trademark rights and combinations finding their mark.
The second round was probably the weakest of the four as Jonas caught Taylor with a left going back and brought up the tempo. The British girl drew the round 5-5 but Taylor maintained a 10-7 lead overall.
"I didn’t do what I was told in the second round," admitted Taylor afterwards. "I was staying in there a bit too long and was getting caught with a backhand. I was happy that I stayed three points up after the second round so I just had to push her back in the third round and thankfully I had a good lead for the last round.
"My speed has always been so important, so I have to use that all week really. My speed is everything in fights and I just have to box to my advantage and listen to my coaches a bit more."
It was the third and fourth rounds where Taylor found that speed again and made an indelible mark on the fight. Raining in combinations and beating Jonas to the punch every time, Taylor forced two standing counts from the referee and raced ahead to 19-11 to finally win by a clear 11 points.
"Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be Olympic Champion, that’s what I came here for," Taylor told RTÉ. "It’s unbelievable. The atmosphere was incredible today. I just thank God for a great victory, he’s my strength and my shield every time I step into the ring.
"I just tried to stay calm and composed throughout the whole thing really, but it was hard not to get excited at the end. The atmosphere was incredible. I knew the support was going to be great here but I didn’t realise it was going to be so great. It was amazing to box in front of."
Jonas was gracious in defeat, insisting Taylor is still the one to beat.
"I'm not going to make any excuses, she's still the best, she comes out on top every time," she said. "There is nothing else I could do. I could have maybe thrown the kitchen sink at her, I could have maybe driven a bus into her."
Chorieva now stands between Taylor and a silver medal, after she beat world number four Cheng Dong of China 13-8. The Tajikistan boxer, ranked sixth in the world, is a big hitter but was beaten 16-6 by Taylor in the world semi-finals earlier this year.