Katie Taylor must wait until Monday to start her campaign underway at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in the Chinese city of Qinhuangdao, where her quest for a fourth successive lightweight title is overshadowed by her search for Olympic qualification.
Ever since women’s boxing was included on the Olympic programme at the London Games the pressure has been heaped on the Bray woman. With five European titles and three world titles to her credit she is the face of the sport.
Now, however, it is her time to deliver after being awarded a bye at yesterday’s draw.
Her opponent will be the winner of the first round bout between Rim Jouini (Tunisia) and Juliana da Rocha Canedo (Portugal) and the Tunisian will be the raging hot favourite to win that one.
With just three weight divisions to be contested in London, Jouini is one of the many boxers who have switched categories. She was a bronze medallist at featherweight at the world championships in Barbados and her background in kickboxing would indicate a tough streak.
“We really don’t know anything about her,” Katie’s father and coach, Pete Taylor, admitted last night.
“We know that she was a bronze medallist at 57kg at the last world championships but that’s about it. She is one of a number of girls who have switched divisions looking for Olympic qualification. We would not know them all but everyone knows Katie.
“Every fight out here is going to be tough but Katie is in very good shape and looking forward to it.
“The only problem is having to wait until Monday for her first contest. She would have preferred to fight tomorrow and in fact we would have expected that. It’s been a very long wait.”
Russia’s two-time world champion, Sofya Ochigava, and Turkey’s world champion, Gulsum Tatar, are the big threats. Taylor met Ochigava twice in the past two years and both have one win apiece on their cards from those engagements.
“We have not examined the draw in detail at all yet,” Pete Taylor said. “We prefer to take it one fight at a time.”
Three boxers from Europe will qualify from each category for the London Olympics from the world championships which is the only qualifying tournament.
Ireland’s other two boxers at the championships, flyweight Ceire Smith and middleweight Sinead Kavanagh, will be in action today when they will contest places in the last 32.
Smith, who boxes out of John Joe Nevin’s Cavan BC, is an outstanding prospect but she meets a very experienced opponent in Veglina Svetlana (Tajikistan) while the Drimnagh middleweight goes in against Francelis Paez Carmona (Venezuela).
English lightweight Natasha Jonas, who won the Olympic test tournament at the weight, will meet fellow British boxer Rebecca Price (Wales).
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