Pluck of the Irish
CALL IT THE LUCK of the Irish.
Maybe even the magic of a shamrock.
But Irish eyes are certainly smiling on Katie Taylor.
Ireland’s legendary lightweight lived to tell the tale of arguably the greatest bout of these AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, having barely survived an 18-16 slugfest with American Queen Underwood in yesterday’s 60 kg semi-final at the Wildey Gym.
It proved the fitting result for a fight hyped by the two animated cheering camps that engulfed the surrounding stands in so much noise that the ring resembled a work site.
In the end, the two-time world champ and multiple European title holder endured a memorable comeback in which Underwood erased a ten-point gap.
Taylor actually scored the first ten points without reply before Underwood showed the first signs of life by ending the second round with a left-right combo.
It wasn’t all she showed either, as the gritty American followed each potent right hook with a corresponding equivalent from the other end, sending a visibly shaken Taylor to fourth with a mere 12-8 advantage.
And like the tiring Taylor, that lead eventually disappeared on the heels of the Irish fighter’s second penalty for excessive holding when Underwood went ahead 16-15.
However, the American’s heroic efforts proved all for naught, as she succumbed to successive straight shots from a battling Taylor just seconds before the final bell.
“She is very strong and very awkward,” Taylor said of her resolute American counterpart.
“I should’ve kept moving but I felt very tired in there. But a win’s a win and I am just happy to be in tomorrow’s final.”
China’s Cheng Dong will be facing Taylor for the gold in that division after pummelling Poland’s Karolina Graczyk 12-3 in the previous bout.
India’s Mary Kom advanced to another 48 kg title fight after downing Alice Apparri of the Phillipines 8-1 on points.
Kom actually trailed 1-0 on points, failing to score in the first round while falling victim to a right hook counter from Aparri early on. And she didn’t get her first point until midway, levelling the scores midway through the second.
But Kom expertly countered that slow start, and Aparri’s subsequent attacks, taking advantage on a southpaw strike before landing successive right jabs to go ahead 6-1.
Romania’s two-time World Championships runner-up, Steluta Duta put herself in line for at least another silver medal after advancing to that final by beating Nazgul Boranbayeva of Kazakhstan 10-5.
Favoured Chinese Ren Cancan also opened her bout slowly before securing a come-from-behind 8-5 decision against Ukraine’s Tetyaba Kob in the new Olympic 51 kg category.
World Championships’ silver medallist Nicola Adams of Great Britain advanced to meet Cancan in the final, via a clinical 11-4 points victory over Finland’s surprise qualifier Hanne Makinen.
Russian Yelena Savelyeva continued her impressive debut in the 54 kg category when she ended the reign of Polish world champ Karolina Michalczuk in a stunningly easy 14-5 decision.
Kim Hye Song of North Korea, an Asian Championships silver medallist, didn’t have such an easy path to the title fight, however, barely outlasting Hungary’s Csilla Nemedi-Varga.
Yanzi Yang of China and North Korean Yun Kum Ju are slated to contest today’s 57 kg final after getting past Tunisia’s Rim Jouini and Tassamalee Thongjan of Thailand, respectively.