Katie hailed by greats as Ireland lands another medal

Four times world champion, five times European champion, odds-on for an Olympic gold, and now the darling of the boxing world.

It’s been quite a 48 hours for Katie Taylor, but the reaction to her 26-15 demolition of perhaps nearest rival Natasha Jonas has some of the world’s boxing greats, including Lennox Lewis, purring.

The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and Olympic gold medallist said both women “put on a great fight” and were “a huge credit to women’s boxing”.

But he reserved a specific compliment for the Bray woman.

“When you hit Taylor she hits you back twice,” he said.

Praise indeed from a man who knocked out Mike Tyson.

Similar sentiments were expressed by the former WBO cruiserweight world champion, Johnny Nelson.

Now a Sky Sports pundit, he said Taylor was virtually assured of a gold medal, saying she was as good as many male pros.

“If you’ve ever doubted women’s boxing you need to watch this fight. Taylor v Jonas. OMG. She’s better than many male pros. Cool, seasoned, fluid, and a master of her intent,” he wrote.

Former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan said Taylor was “class” before stressing bronze was the very least she should achieve.

Taylor takes on Mavzuna Chorieva at 2pm, with the winner guaranteed silver. She beat the Tajikstani boxer in May’s world championship semi-finals.

The world’s media have also awoken to Taylor’s talent.

“The place rocked, the show was magical and the media took note,” wrote the LA Times’ Bill Dwyre. “Somewhere in the expensive seats, where the IOC relics sit, the noise presumably awakened at least one, who paid heed and will vote yes on women’s Olympic boxing next time. The Olympic legend of Katie Taylor begins.”

While track success still eludes Ireland — with Cork’s Derval O’Rourke finishing fifth in her 100m hurdles semi-finals — the good times continue to roll for our boxers.

Belfast fighter Michael Conlan, 20, beat Frenchman Nordine Oubaali 22-18 in a tense clash-of-styles bout.

Conlan, who fought southpaw despite being an orthodox, is guaranteed at least bronze, like John Joe Nevin and Taylor — who was rumoured to be among the 10,500 crowd.

Boxers have won 15 of the 26 medals in Irish Olympic history, with Beijing bronze flyweight Paddy Barnes bidding for another tonight.

RTÉ coverage of Taylor’s semi-final starts at 1pm.


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