Determined Katie Taylor now just one step from Rio Olympics

Katie Taylor will book a ticket for Rio 2016 if she beats Mexico’s Victoria Torres this afternoon – and she could also qualify if she loses.

The Olympic champion joined Offaly welterweight Grainne Walsh and Dublin light-welter Kellie Harrington in the quarter-finals of the World Women’s Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan after recording her 27th win in 28 World outings since 2005, against Argentina’s Dayana Sanchez yesterday.

Taylor outclassed the Buenos Aires lightweight on a unanimous decision. One judge gave her two 10-8 rounds in a 40-35, 40-34, 40-35 verdict. Except for needing attention for a nose bleed for the second contest in a row in Astana, Taylor, detonating big shots at the end of most combinations, particularly in frames two and three, was rarely troubled.

“I just got clash of heads there in the last fight so my nose is a bit tender at the moment,” admitted the five-time World 60kg champion after her win. “Other than that, I’m delighted with another victory. It was definitely a tough battle. The fourth round, I had to dig deep in there. It’s great to be still here and have a chance to defend my title.” The top three women in the three Olympic weights – flyweight, lightweight, and middleweight – in Astana qualify for Rio.

If any of the Irish boxers win today, they will be guaranteed at least bronze – while Taylor will also be assured of a place at August’s Olympics. Even if she loses against Torres, she’ll still qualify for Rio if Azerbaijan’s Yana Alexseevna beats France’s Estelle Mosselly on today’s card. Alexseevna beat Taylor en route to qualifying for Rio in Samsun, Turkey last month, but if she makes the qualification standard again in Astana, the World places prevails and the berth she earned through Europe kicks back to Taylor, who won the third place box-off in Samsun. Meanwhile, Harrington switched from southpaw to orthodox in a top drawer performance to beat Germany’s Cindy Rogge on a unanimous decision (40-36,39-37,39-37) yesterday to set up today’s last-eight clash with Kazakh Zarina Tsoloyeva.

Walsh and Harrington are in action in the early session between approximately 10.30am and 11.30am (Irish time) and Taylor fights in the afternoon session at approximately 2.30pm (Irish time).

“Very happy with the wins, two big performances from our boxers. We enjoy the wins today, but tomorrow is the big day now,” said Irish head coach Zaur Antia.


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