Katie Taylor: Four rounds to excel
The scales had tipped. She now had to chase me and everyone in the stadium knew she would be coming. It would make for a tense two minutes. I couldn’t give away any cheap shots – one good shot could change the momentum and I couldn’t let that happen during the final round. The last thing I wanted to give her now was a glimmer of hope.
I kept her on her toes all of the time during that last round with a series of feints. The two-point advantage was no more than a small cushion, but it had been clear throughout the whole week that the final round was generally win-or-bust for the chasing boxer as they tried to claw back the score.
I knew that a bad spell of ten seconds could have changed the whole course of the fight, so it was probably the most cautious round of my life. I was reluctant even to exchange punches in case the judges saw her punches and not mine. I tried to stay out of reach, pumping out my left any time she stepped into range.
At the end of the fourth round, the bell sounded and I looked across at Dad and Zaur in the corner and asked “Is it me?” I didn’t know what the score was, but I was sure that it was close. It’s not always easy to guess what way the judges are seeing a fight. Important incidents in the round raced through my mind: the couple of times we exchanged combinations, what way did the judges score them? What about when I slipped on the canvas, did they score that? Did I do enough to hold her off for the win?
I hadn’t a clue how they would call it. I find it hard to judge fights when I’m actually in them. But at the end, Dad and Zaur were confident. They knew I was two points up going into the last two minutes and they thought the last round was pretty even, so they were confident it would be fine.
Usually the judges’ decision is announced quickly once the fight is over. But this wasn’t one of those days – it seemed to be taking ages for them to make their announcement. The delay didn’t help my nerves. Dad kept reassuring me that the decision was going my way and that there was no way I lost the last round by two points, but the longer it went on, the more doubts ballooned in my head.
Then I thought the decision was going to a count-back, which is what happens when the judges score the fight even by the usual scoring method. We were waiting so long that Dad had stopped reassuring me and I think even he began to wonder if it was going to go to a count-back, and then the decision could be something of a lottery.
You could hear a pin drop in the stadium as we waited. The crowd had fallen from megaphone levels of uproar to a complete silence. Nobody knew what was happening.
Finally, they began to announce the decision: “And the winner of that contest by a score . . .” I’m waiting to hear the words “in the red corner”, but before I could make out what was said, the crowd had erupted in pandemonium at the announcement.
Then I felt the referee begin to raise my right arm, and I knew it was me . . . I was the Olympic champion!