Katie Taylor on course to meet Alekseevna in World Championship semi-finals
Five-time world champion has received bye to second round of competition in Astana
Katie Taylor has received a bye to the second round. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
While Katie Taylor received a bye through to the second round of her sixth consecutive World Championships in Astana, not everything has gone perfectly smoothly for the defending world champion, who starts her tournament on Saturday against Sweden’s Agnes Alexiusson.
Eddie Bolger, who in a recent coaching reshuffle will be in Taylor’s corner for the championships, did not receive his Kazakhstan entry visa on time to be in Astana for the opening two days of boxing.
Despite applying for the visa in London on May 2nd, the coach, who successfully guided Irish light heavyweight Joe Ward to Rio, will only fly out today and should be available for Taylor’s first bout.
With coaches Zaur Antia and Gerry Storey in Astana, Taylor would not have been short on corner guidance had the delay been any longer.
But for the structured Taylor the margins are important. Her style is considered and meticulous, rather than seat-of-the-pants stuff.
“I always go into each competition very well prepared and this is no different,” she said. “I will be doing my best not only to qualify but to get a second gold at Rio.”
In that quest, the draw keeps her away from Yana Alekseevna until the semi-finals.
Alekseevna beat Taylor last month in Turkey at an Olympic qualifying event. She was the first boxer in five years to do so and only the second in 10.
Alekseevna is seeded five to Taylor’s top seeding. But the Azerbaijani opponent is on the same side of the draw.
Taylor’s first objective is to make the semi-finals, which would require three wins. That would ensure she is in Rio to defend her Olympic title.
Taylor, who is the defending champion from Jeju, South Korea, will not be accompanied by Ceire Smith, who exited the competition on the first day in Astana on a split decision to Colombian Pan-American silver medallist Ingrit Valencia.
The Cavan flyweight blamed herself for not sticking to instruction over the four two-minute rounds and looked to the fourth particularly, where Valencia put the seal on her victory.
Two of the three judges scored the bout 39-37, with the third, Australian Moise Mbemap, calling it equal 38-38.
“I was too slow to implement the plan,” said the southpaw. “She was tough. I wouldn’t say she was that aggressive. She definitely dominated the last round. I can’t take that away from her. My first was probably my best round. Second, you could have gone half and half and in the last I was definitely on the front foot but I definitely gave it to her.”