Taylor wins to take Olympic boxing gold for Ireland
Olympics: Katie Taylor has realised her dream and delivered on the hopes of a nation with a 10-8 win over Sofya Ochigava and an Olympic gold medal that will stand toe-to-toe with the Ireland’s greatest sporting achievements.
The manner of this win may not be be what’s remembered. It was patient performance by Taylor, but a tense and scrappy battle, in which the Russian stubbornly stood between her and what she and many others have felt was her destiny since she was a teenager.
"I always knew it was going to be such a close fight," said Taylor afterwards. "It always is between me and Sofya. She's a fantastic boxer. I didnt know what way the result went near the end, but thank God for a great victory and congratulations to Sofya for a brilliant fight as well."
The early exchanges were tentative, with neither boxer committing too much for fear of conceding on the way back out. Taylor was the more aggressive, however, and so Ochigava duly landed the first score on the counter with tidy left hook early on.
The pair went into the second round level on two apiece and it was the Russian who took the advantage, landing a swift right-left combination to move into a 4-3 lead at the halfway stage.
Taylor needed to regain the upper hand in the third and she rose to the challenge with some big rights that had majority of the ExCel Arena on its feet. The roar was deafening when Taylor took the round 4-1 to move into a two-point lead heading into the last.
Ochigava emerged on the front foot for the first time and Taylor stumbled once or twice at close quarters but there were no scores conceded in those skirmishes. The two traded punches evenly in a round that could have gone either way, but eventually went neither, and the 3-3 scoreline ensured Taylor’s dreams were fulfilled with a narrow two-point win.
The 26-year-old dropped to her knees and the arena erupted after what seemed an interminable wait for the final ruling. Katie Taylor; four-time world champion, five-time European champion, Olympic champion. The journey is complete.
Having played such an important role in bringing women’s boxing into the Games, Taylor was not the first of her sisterhood to win gold. That honour went to Britain’s Nicola Adams, who beat Cancan Ren of China 16-7 in the flyweight final.
Adams put Ren down in the second round on her way to a stunningly comprehensive victory against an opponent who had beaten her in each of the previous two World Championship finals.