Katie Taylor may be the unbackable favourite to complete her march to Olympic boxing gold at ExCeL tomorrow but her right to reign as the undisputed world number one women’s boxer has been challenged by opponent Sofya Ochigava.
Taylor brought down the house once again with a 17-9 lightweight semi-final win over Tajikistan’s Mavzuna Chorieva, a result that helped lift Ireland’s guaranteed boxing medal tally to four after an evening win for Paddy Barnes.
The Bray warrior proved too strong and too clever for Chorieva, the former world bronze medallist, opening a three-point gap at the end of round one and extended it throughout with a mixture of accurate aggression and crisp back-foot counters.
But former foe Ochigava, who beat Adriana Araujo of Brazil 17-11 to progress, said: “Taylor is one of the best, but she is just another boxer. In my opinion, (Natasha) Jonas won the first two rounds against her, but the judges didn’t see it that way.
“When you fight Katie Taylor, you are already minus 10 points. You are fighting the judges and the whole system and they will try to give her too many points.”
Ochigava’s comments will not cause the imperious Taylor to lose any sleep - although the four-time world champion from Bray admitted she still gets nervous enough before her bouts to struggle for rest.
Taylor said: “It’s amazing to box for the gold medal tomorrow. I wouldn’t mind the day off, but that’s just because I’m lazy. I have trouble getting sleep before a big fight but I’ll still manage to get a couple of hours in.
“The support has been incredible. Hopefully there will be a lot of young girls sitting at home watching this, and they will realise that this is something they can work towards. It is amazing for women’s boxing.”
Barnes took Ireland’s medal haul to four – alongside guaranteed podium places for John Joe Nevin and Michael Conlan – with an impressive 23-18 win over India’s Devendro Singh.
But Belfast man Barnes once again insisted “bronze medals are for losers” as he looked forward to a rematch with China’s world number one Zou Shiming, who beat him 15-0 in their semi-final in Beijing four years ago.
Barnes joked: “My plan for the next fight is just to go out and score a point. I don’t care if I get beaten 15-1, just so long as I score a point. I’d go home happy with that.”
Barnes added: “Just even qualifying for the Olympics was a dream come true but now I’ve got two medals which is unbelievable. It’s been a tough few days, but by this time next week I’ll be back home in bed with a gold medal around my neck.”