Katie Taylor goes into semi-final in good condition

Sofya Ochigava no-show gives Taylor chance to get ready for Junhua Yin in Jeju

 Katie Taylor at her team hotel ahead of her semi-final bout against China’s Jinhua Yin tomorrow in the  2014 AIBA Elite Women’s World Boxing Championships, Jeju, Korea. Photograph: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Katie Taylor at her team hotel ahead of her semi-final bout against China’s Jinhua Yin tomorrow in the 2014 AIBA Elite Women’s World Boxing Championships, Jeju, Korea. Photograph: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

 

The world number two Sofya Ochigava pulls out, the world number four Junhua Yin steps in. But Katie Taylor’s world doesn’t change.

Her World Championship quarterfinal against Russia’s Ochigava in Jeju didn’t materialise when the Russian number two failed to show at weigh-in yesterday morning.

Ochigava’s troublesome knee, according to some very unhappy and surly-looking Russian coaches wandering around the hotel foyer, was the reason she didn’t show at the morning ritual. Knowing what physical demands Taylor would require, having lost to her 11-7 in the World Championship final of two years ago, Ochigava called time.

That decision – a genuine one, as Ochigava was noticeably limping after her last fight against Brazil’s Adriana dos Santos – gives the defending champion two days’ rest before she faces China’s Junhua Yin in the semifinals.

Gold medallist

Yin is China’s Asian Games gold medallist, who began her boxing career only in 2009 at the age of 19 before reaching the top level three years later. She beat Denitsa Eliseeva, the world number 11, on a split decision yesterday, which privately may put a smile on the face of the Irish world champion. Katie destroyed Eliseeva in this year’s European Championships. No split decisions.

It’s also the second time Taylor has received a walkover at the quarterfinal stages of the World Championships. When she won her fourth consecutive title two years ago in Qinhuangdao, China, the Romanian boxer Michaela Lactus pulled out at the same stage.

It put Taylor through to face Mavzuna Chorieva in the semifinal and Ochigava in the final, two boxers she would subsequently beat in London a few months later on her way to a lightweight Olympic gold medal.

“I’m just looking forward to the semifinals now,” said Taylor. “The same thing happened to me in the last World Championships in China and it’s really no big deal at all. A girl pulled out at the quarterfinal. So I’m used to this. It’s grand.

“For now I keep focused and keep my head down. Every fight will be a tough fight but we always know who the main people are as well. I love the challenge of trying to defend these titles and that drives me.”

It also means she will have fought only twice this week, once against a reluctant opponent, Valeria Spicer, who backed away for the four rounds and wouldn’t engage, and the other against a Finn, Mira Potkonen, who came rushing forward for four rounds in an attempt at relentless physical pressure.

To that backdrop Taylor received a bye in the first round and now a walkover for what would have been her third bout. But there is no question of the Olympic champion going into her meeting with Yin undercooked.

“Katie has an extra day off but it’s not going to make a big load of difference to her fitness,” says her coach and father Pete Taylor. “She’s still going to train today anyway, obviously because of the weight [60KG] . . . but to tell you the truth it’s irrelevant to the week that she’s got a walkover. We’ve been here waiting and preparing for two weeks to box . . . she’s had two contests now so that’s great.

“She’s looking forward to boxing whoever it is. At this stage of the competition every fight is difficult anyway.

“We just move on and get ready for the next bout. There’s nothing you can do about it. Katie has two days rest now because Saturday is a rest day. But Katie also wants to box all the time.”

Perfect condition

Ochigava’s withdrawl also means Taylor will meet Yin in perfect condition. She is always one of the fittest, if not the most fit boxer at these tournaments.

Her condition is also something not far from the Pete Taylor’s mind.

“Every time she boxes she’s a chance of picking up an injury anyway,” he says. “Now the great thing is that she’ll be going into the semifinals injury-free. The week is still on plan and that’s the way we look at it.”

For the European, World and Olympic champion, yesterday was like the day before, which was like the day before that. Food. Walk. Training. Food. Sleep. Weigh-in. When she wakes up in the Ibiza Hotel in Jeju City on Sunday, it will be Yin standing in her way.

In her head that will be no different either. At least that’s the way it has been for the last four World Championships.

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