Old foe looms for Katie Taylor

Olympic champion Katie Taylor has never been in the business of looking very far beyond her next bout, particularly with every opposition coach plotting her downfall.

But the Bray woman, who begins her quest to qualify for her second Olympics at the European qualifiers versus Martina Schmoranzova of the Czech Republic in Samsun, Turkey this evening, will be aware that Azerbaijan’s Yana Alexseevna won on Saturday.

The Azeri beat England’s Chantelle Cameron and could meet Taylor in Friday’s semi-finals, which will be a crucial clash as the top two (the finalists) qualify for Rio 2016.

Taylor beat Alesseevana, in the last-four en route to gold at the European Games in Azerbaijan last year.

But the fight was fraught with tension, with Taylor coming the closest she’s come to a legitimate defeat this decade.

Schmoranzova, meantime, beat Germany’s Tasheena Bugar on a unanimous decision on Saturday to set up today’s last 16 fight with Taylor.

The Czech, who has dropped from light-welter to light, holds two wins over Ireland’s Moira McElligot and Sinead Kavanagh. She beat Kavanagh on a countback after a draw at the 2011 European Elites.

Wexford’s Dean Walsh, Tipperary’s Dean Gardiner, Cork’s Christina Desmond, Cavan’s Ceire Smith and Antrim’s Brendan Irvine are also in last-16 action today.

Walsh and Gardiner decisioned Czech light-welter Erik Agataljan (30-27,30-27,29-28) and Norwegian super-heavy Simen Nysater (30-27, 29-28,29-28) on Saturday.

The wins set up today’s Ireland versus Azerbaijan double-header against Lorenzo Sotomayor and Mahammadrausl Majidor, the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds at the 39-nation tournament which yields 36 Olympics places.

Irvine, the No. 1 seed in the flyweight class, faces Germany’s Hamza Hamza Touba, but Desmond is facing a tough four-rounder against Dutch No. 1 seed Nouchka Fontijan. Ceire Smith, a late replacement for Michaela Walsh at fly, opens her campaign against Hungary’s Virginia Barankas over four two-minute rounds.

Irish interim coach Zaur Antia, who is working Ireland’s corner in Samsun with Eddie Bolger and John Conlan, was pleased with Saturday’s start at the fourth-last qualifier for Rio 2016.

London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill, Michael O’Reilly and David Oliver Joyce, Ireland’s AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) fighter in Samsun, are between the ropes tomorrow.


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