Carruth offers warning

 

BOXING NEWS:FORMER OLYMPIC champion Michael Carruth has said the expectations on Katie Taylor to win gold next year in London are excessive.

The gold medallist from Barcelona in 1992 believes Taylor’s weight division will be flooded with World champions and World Championship semi-finalists as heavier and lighter boxers scramble to take part in the first Olympics open to women.

While Carruth does not doubt the proven ability of Taylor, he is concerned the Irish public expect her to turn up in London and walk away with gold, whereas the reality is that even qualification for London at next year’s World Championships in China is fraught with danger.

“There is huge pressure on Katie that she just needs to turn up and win. That’s not right,” said Carruth. “Two World champions will come into her weight division because there are only three weight categories in the Olympics for women. You will have the 64 kilo class going down to 60 and you’ll have the 57kg boxers going up to 60kg. Then you are looking at beaten semi-finalists and quarter-finalists also flooding into the same weight category.

“I know Katie is not thinking she has a God-given right to win. But she has been beaten controversially before and you don’t know what is going to spring out of China next year. Her qualification to get to London will be very, very hard too.”

When the International Olympic Committee brought women’s boxing into the schedule they allowed only three weight categories. While Taylor fits naturally into the 60kg division, she will have to face up to 12 amateurs who have either dropped weight or put on weight simply to fit one of the divisions. What might emerge from Russia, China and even Britain is another huge unknown.

Given Taylor’s status in the sport as well as twice being voted best female boxer in the world, Carruth’s caution may seem over-stated. But his experience of winning the gold medal lends to the weight of his views.

“The Olympics is a different ball game,” he says. “The pressure is different and we don’t know what other countries are doing. I’m sure they are keeping a few (boxers) behind closed doors. The super powers are willing to do anything for a medal.

“The perception is out there that for Katie it is gold or nothing. I understand that. But in a way she has become a victim of her own success and I think that’s wrong.

“Boxing is a horrible game. I broke two hands in 1991. I hadn’t broken anything up until that. You need so much luck. China, for the women, and Azerbaijan for the men are hard places to go to qualify. There is a divide between east and west and I’ll defy anyone to say different. It’s going to be very, very difficult to get a decision in those places.”

Welterweight Carruth was the first boxer since the State was founded to win gold. But so too has Taylor become a benchmark in boxing, with three consecutive World Championship wins and four European titles.

“Katie has proven herself in the past and she will do so in the future. People have asked me how I’d feel if she won and I will gladly welcome her into the gold medal club,” said Carruth. “But leave her at it.”