Taylor caps off qualification and fourth world title with top award

 

BOXING: KATIE TAYLOR topped off a triumphant week at the Women’s World Boxing Championships with the best boxer award, after the 25-year-old saw off the challenge of Russian Sofya Ochigava to retain possession of the crown she has worn since 2006.

The Bray lightweight heads into a week of rest now before starting on her preparation for the London Olympics, and she knows winning the world championship for a fourth time in succession makes her number-one seed in the lightweight division in London.

This takes her straight through to the quarter-finals, and only one win away from a medal-winning position. She is Ireland’s best hope of an Olympic gold since the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

There were plenty of other milestones at the Qinhuangdao championships to remind us of how women’s boxing, which debuts at the Olympics in London, is shaping up to be an extremely high-profile event.

For the local fans, the big news was that Ren Cancan, who became China’s first female boxer to qualify for London when defeating US fighter Marlen Esparza, beat England’s Nicola Adams to take the gold by 14-10 in the flyweight final.

Ren’s is a remarkable story. She comes from the poor province of Guizhou, and is a former track-and-field athlete who was plucked, injured, from obscurity by the Chinese women’s coach, Tian Dong. As well as Ren, other Chinese hopefuls include Li Jinzi and Dong Cheng.

There were also Afghan women taking part, and they wore headscarves at the opening ceremony. This was an achievement, as they are not allowed to fight in front of men at home. They didn’t wear headscarves for the fight, but every time they were photographed, they would don scarves.

Another competitor from Afghanistan is the naturalised Danish boxer Diana Nadim, who is a former under-19 European champion in the 60kg class. She fled to Denmark with her family after their father was killed by the Taliban.

Taylor had barely left the podium before she was continuing her quest to make sure the wildcards are given out to the best competitors in the game to give the sport of women’s boxing a great platform.

The selection process means that some of the titans of women’s boxing, such as Canada’s three-time AIBA World Champion Mary Spencer, will not qualify unless they win one of the “wildcards”.

“Hopefully they make the right decisions when handing out those wildcards. We need to showcase women’s boxing,” Taylor said.

As well as Spencer, Taylor also said Cheng Dong of China and Queen Underwood of the US should be at the London Games.

There has been constant discussion about the selection process in boxing. This also has ramifications for the Irish men’s team, as the world number three Joe Ward will not be going to London as things stand.

AIBA president Wu Ching-kuo told a news conference before that the qualification process would be overhauled after London. The wildcards are to be decided just weeks before the games.

The world championships took place at the Qinhuangdao Olympics sports centre, which hosted 12 football matches in the 2008 games.