Katie Taylor took her first step towards London 2012 qualification with an emphatic 19-6 victory over Tunisian Rim Jouini at the women’s world championships in the Chinese city of Qinhuangdao yesterday.
The Bray woman endured a 10-day wait for her opening fight but was patient picking off Jouini, a world bronze medallist at 57kg two years ago.
Chasing a fourth successive world title, Taylor was near perfect in her performance but for her, the overriding emotion was relief.
“It was great just to get the first fight out of the way,” she said. “It’s been a long wait over here. It’s great to get off with a good win and thank God again for the victory.”
Her father Pete added: “Myself and Zaur [Antia] spent the day and last night speaking about the tactics for this girl and thank God we got it right again. But you can only do the tactics if your boxer is able to carry them out and, all credit to Katie, she did it.”
With her opponent only moving up a division for a shot at Olympic qualification this year, he admitted they did not know very much about her but were helped by the English team.
“Fortunately they had a video of her and they gave it to us,” he said. “We studied her carefully and, basically, we knew what she was going to do — jump in throwing one-twos — and that’s exactly what she did and Katie was ready and prepared to deal with that situation.
“There is still a long way to go but we know Katie gets better and better as the tournament goes on and it takes a few fights for her to really be at her best.”
Today she meets 23-year-old Saida Khassenova from Kazakhstan who had an impressive 19-12 victory over Jennifer Miranda Magueda (Spain) yesterday. Khassenova is another boxer on the move, only this time she is dropping down from the 64kgs light welterweight division.
Ironically, Rim Jouini, despite losing to Katie Taylor yesterday, still qualified for the Olympics. She was the last African contender in the division while there are still at least seven Europeans in contention with three to qualify.
But the task became a little easier when world number two, Gulsum Tatar from Turkey, lost to Laishram Sariti Devi (India) yesterday and while it may have been a shock to some, Pete said afterwards he wasn’t surprised.
Elsewhere, 19-year-old Cavan flyweight, Ceire Smith, will put herself in line for Olympic qualification if she can win her last 16 bout with Karolina Anna Michalzczk today.
After two very impressive wins, her coach, Brian McKeown, feels she just might sneak past the 35-year-old Michalzczk who has dropped down a division and might have a problem with the weight.
When they met at the world championships in Barbados two years ago the Polish boxer won but, on that occasion, Smith, had moved up to 54kgs to get to the championships.
“Still Ceire matched her toe to toe in the last round and she will be much better at her natural weight,” the Cavan BC coach said. “If her opponent has a problem making the weight she just might sneak it and, if she does, she could qualify for the Olympics alongside John Joe Nevin.”
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