Katie Taylor qualified for her second successive Olympics after subduing battling Mexican lightweight Victoria Torres at the World Women’s Elite Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan yesterday.
The last-eight win ensures Ireland will be taking home at least two bronze medals from Central Asia as, earlier yesterday, Kellie Harrington advanced to the last-four at the expense of Kazakhstan’s Zarina Tsoloyeva in the light-welter class.
A top four finish is enough to secure Rio 2016 qualification in the three women’s Olympic weights of flyweight, lightweight and middleweight, and Taylor booked her ticket in robust style in Astana.
“It was a tough fight, she was really up for it and kept coming forward,” said the Bray lightweight.
“The Olympics is so important to me and I’m delighted to have qualified.”
The durable Mexican was clearly up for battle, as was Taylor.
Punches were flying in from all angles, but Taylor, whilst soaking up a few body shots, repeatedly got the better of the big exchanges.
Taylor had a particularly good spell midway through the second round, catching her opponent with flashing left hooks whilst displaying excellent footwork to get out of the way of any return fire.
Torres was still up for it in the third but the fire was going out of her work toward the end, leaving Taylor to take the round and the final stanza.
Taylor will meet France’s Estelle Mosselly, who she has beaten three times, in the semi-finals tomorrow two wins away from becoming the first woman in the history of the sport to claim six World titles on the bounce.
Mosselly beat Azerbaijan’s Yana Alexseevna, who beat Taylor in the European Rio 2016 qualifiers in Turkey last month.
Finland’s Mira Potkonen and Russia’s Anastasia Beliakova clash in the corresponding lightweight semi-final.
Harrington guaranteed Ireland a first bronze after outpointing Kazakhstan’s Zarina Tsoloyeva in the non-Olympic 64kg quarter-final.
Harrington, like Taylor, took a 40-36 decision across the board. She meets Canada’s Sara Kali tomorrow looking to upgrade to at least silver.
“Absolutely over the moon, words can’t describe it, ” said the clearly emotional Dubliner after becoming the only Irish female boxer besides Taylor to medal at this level.
Offaly’s Gráinne Walsh had to settle for a top eight finish after she suffered a nose injury and her welterweight quarter-final with Kazakhstan’s Valentina Khalzova was stopped in the second round with the home boxer ahead on points.
Taylor, Paddy Barnes, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly and Joe Ward have now qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The previous record for Irish boxers qualified for the Olympics since the current qualification system was introduced for the 1992 Olympiad was six apiece at Barcelona 92 and London 2012.
Taylor helped smash that record yesterday with two qualifiers (for men) remaining after Kazakhstan next month in Baku, Azerbaijan and at a host city, possibly Sheffield, to be confirmed in late June or early July.
Today is a rest day in Astana.
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