Katie Taylor camp concerned by judges’ scoring

Bray boxer has plenty left in the tank as she looks for her fifth world title

After only facing three rounds in her last two bouts Katie Taylor is fresh heading into her World Championship final against Azerbaijan’s Yana Allekseevna

After only facing three rounds in her last two bouts Katie Taylor is fresh heading into her World Championship final against Azerbaijan’s Yana Allekseevna

 

With some amusement among those who cover the high octane world of Katie Taylor’s career, no one has ever had the experience of asking her how it felt to lose in a major championship bout.

Again the opportunity didn’t arise in her semifinal in Jeju but the scoring in her bout with China’s Junhua Yin almost made Taylor seem mortal.

The most important thing she may have learned from her third round win over the Chinese world number four is that anything other than a convincing win becomes a lottery decision in the hands of judges.

By the time Yin’s corner threw in her towel, much to the surprise of Taylor’s father and coach Pete and coach Zaur Antia, she was trailing 28-29 on the card of one of the judges, the others having her ahead 30-27 and 29-28.

That news landed with a jarring thud in the Taylor camp.Not only had they scored the circumspect, calculating fight entirely Katie’s way but they believed she had it won by the third round, when the Yin’s corner were unstrapping her head gear.

Katie will go into her fifth consecutive world final chastened by that one score card, her coach’s anxious to try and take it out of the judges hands as Azerbaijani opponent Yana Allekseevna is also a southpaw. The rule of thumb in Jeju is that left handed boxers play a counter punching game.

The style in Monday’s final will not be unlike the stalking game of quick scoring flurries with two circling boxers eyeing each other largely from a distance. Her fight in the Olympic final against Sofya Ochigava was one such fraught outing. But Taylor may opt to make more of an impression with the judges this time around.

“The girl (Yin) didn’t do anything. She was unable to do anything,” said Pete after the fight. “They scored the second round against us. I can’t believe that. It just shows, you know you’ve got to dominate a little more.

“I didn’t see Katie getting punched over the three rounds, not once. Any punch she caught was catching her outside the target area. I don’t know how anyone could have given a round against her. Any time she went close to the girl, she was holding. At distance, middle or close I think Katie won the fight.”

The week has been kind to Taylor in terms of the physical demands. A walk over in the quarterfinals when Ochigava pulled out has now been followed by just three rounds in the semifinal.

But the reigning champion sees it as a benefit. Fresh and willing she’s been far from been over worked this week in the ring and Yin’s injury also came as a surprise.

“I didn’t notice anything about her hand, no. It’s unfortunate. All my opponents are getting injured this week. I don’t know what to make of that,” said Taylor.

“Physically I felt fine today. She was always going to be a tricky opponent. It was a game of patience. I didn’t really know much about her coming into this competition so in the first rounds I was just trying to suss her out. There wasn’t a lot happening a lot of the time. There were plenty of feints, just a game of patience.”

Allekseevna is a new name on the Taylor radar. It might be unfamiliar but as the sport mushrooms, new names have become commonplace. The Azerbaijani earned her place in Monday’s final with a win over a pretty disgusted looking Estelle Mossely from France. She was the lightweight Taylor beat earlier this year to win her sixth European Championship.

Mossely is ranked nine in the world, while Allekseevna is uncharted. She is not among the top 17 boxers with an official AIBA world ranking, where Taylor is top dog by a distance.

“I haven’t faced her before,” said Katie. “She’s a southpaw as well. Yeah it’s probably going to be a cagey one again. It’s always a tricky fight in a final.”

Physically her thoroughbred conditioning has reacted kindly to the last four days, which by World Championships standards have been comparatively lax. She goes into the final with 11 two minute rounds of boxing in her arms.

“It’s doesn’t really make much of a difference at this stage,” she says. “There’s no harm having a few days off. I am nice and fresh coming into the final. I’m just delighted to have a chance to defend my title.

“I know how hard it is to win one world final. To be in a fifth now is absolutely incredible. Now I’ve to keep focus, stay in the moment. It’s a final and it won’t be an easy fight. I’m up for the challenge and looking forward to it.”

Only Mary Kom has five titles. Eight minutes now separates the lightweight Olympic champion from the Indian record holder, eight minutes to consolidate her position as the best female boxer in the world.