Ireland’s Katie Taylor has now arrived at the ultimate destination.
She’s won the Olympic gold.
Taylor, who probably deserves the label of best female amateur boxer in the world, “pound-for-pound,” used her economical, efficient style to edge Sofya Ochigava of Russia 10-8 in a fight that really drove the partisan crowd at the ExCel Arena wild, and gave her a great springboard to certain mega-celebrity in her home country.
But that is not to say it was a runaway victory. Certainly the score would indicate otherwise. Ochigava was the solid world #2, and in fact is one of the few female competitors to have extracted a win out of Taylor, beating her in 2010 at a tournament in the Czech Republic. But Taylor had progressed since then, and beat Ochigava 11-7 in the World Championships just a few months ago.
This turned out to be a come-from-behind victory.
After an even first round, Taylor actually fell behind by a 4-3 count at the end of the second. But the third was really the decisive round, as Taylor did not allow Ochigava to generate anything offensively and landed with a certain amount of regularity. The crowd noise was deafening.
The fourth round was dramatic, as the bout was up for grabs. Ochigava was very aggressive, but Taylor stayed cool and counterpunched. A clash of heads ensued, and Taylor actually hit the canvas at one point. There was just not a lot to separate the two boxers in this final stanza.
There was nothing but delight about the verdict in the end. And with it was Ireland’s first gold medal in boxing since Michael Carruth back in 1992. They have a chance at two more, with Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan still very much alive.
Now the speculation starts, and although most people would concede that Taylor could indeed embark on a pretty profitable pro career, she may take a pass on that. No, not to rest on her laurels, but instead to participate more in soccer, a sport in which she is a top-flight competitor. It is said that Arsenal may be interested in her.
Whatever she does, one can imagine she’ll be plenty successful, although it would be hard to duplicate the memories she created at the ExCel.
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