Flawless Taylor’s four in-a-row

WORLD lightweight champion Katie Taylor was back on top of the podium after claiming her fourth European title in-a-row following another emphatic win in the Ukraine yesterday.

The AIBA 2008 World female boxer of the year outclassed Turkish fighter Meryem Aslan Zeybek 11-0 in the 60Kg final in Nikolaev City to preserve her continental dominance.

Yesterday’s victory was all the more impressive as the 23-year-old Bray woman did not concede a single point in the tournament, scoring 23 in her three fights en route to gold.

Taylor, who won European titles in 2005, ’06 and ’07 in Norway, Poland and Denmark, was 4-0 up when she stopped Kosovare Buzuku of Sweden in the first round and beat Denica Eliseeva of Bulgaria 8-0 in the semi-finals last Friday. The weekend win was her 38th victory on the bounce and her 63rd triumph in 64 international outings in the last four years.

Taylor’s team mate Sinead Kavanagh also performed very well at her first major international tournament, only losing 3-2 to experienced Polish middleweight Lidia Fuduro in the last 16.

Taylor, who had her father Peter working her corner with Pat Ryan, said her next target was three-in-a-row at the 2010 World Championships in Barbados.

“I got a bye into the quarter finals and I managed to avoid the Russian and the Ukrainian girl in my half of the draw. All the people that I considered a threat were on the other side of the draw in fact. But Zeybek then beat the Russian and the Ukrainian and fair play to her she got to the final. But I found the final a lot easier than I expected to tell the truth.

“There were a few boxers out here that were a potential threat to my title but my dad and Pat Ryan got the tactics right for me and we took it from there. There was a great buzz out here all week. Women’s boxing has been on a high since the Olympic announcement and the standard was very high at these Championships.

“I’ll take a few weeks off now. The next big one is the World Championships in Barbados next year and my aim is to defend my title. To win three in a row would be very special.”

Taylor admitted that she was deeply saddened to hear the news of Darren Sutherland’s tragic death in London last Monday. “I was absolutely devastated when I heard this news and I just couldn’t believe it. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

“When I was starting out with the Irish team, Darren was always there with little pieces of encouragement and advice. He was a fantastic boxer and a great Irish sportsman and he will be sadly missed.”

Meanwhile, Floyd Mayweather returned to the ring for the first time in more than 20 months with a deeply impressive unanimous points victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Mayweather, who announced his retirement after conquering Manchester’s Ricky Hatton in December 2007, looked as if he had never been away from boxing as he gave triple world lightweight champion Marquez the runaround in this non-title welterweight fight.

The 32-year-old American looked a class apart throughout from his illustrious opponent.

After a cagey first round which saw Marquez aim but mostly fail to land a series of left jabs and hooks, the Mexican did connect with a neat combination in the second – only to find himself on the floor within seconds, on the end of a crunching left hook.

By the fourth, Marquez had the added complication of a cut above his right eye – and one useful right hand apart, still he kept missing when he went for the big shots.

It was Marquez who was using up all the energy, Mayweather’s footwork and agility providing a contrasting efficiency of effort.

Mayweather’s only apparent danger was complacency, and he was caught momentarily in the seventh.

But normal service was quickly resumed. From the ninth, the former five-weight champion and overwhelming favourite decided to up the tempo in search of an early finish. That did not materialise against a famously tenacious opponent – but there was never any question about Mayweather’s superiority.

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