Part One-The finals: The Olympic
weights – 51kg, 60kg and 75kg.
By Michael O’Neill
With additional reporting
May 20, 2012
Photo: Ren Cancan
(MAY 20) Saturday was finals
day in the 7th AIBA Women's World Boxing championships in
Qinhuangdao, North East China which has also served as the only
female Olympic Qualifier. Once again the main focus of attention
was on the three Olympic weights 51 kg, 60kg and 75kg. We had
already seen many surprises this week none more so than in the
75kg category where favourite, Canada’s Mary Spencer and United
States sensation Claressa Shields were early casualties.
Out too went China’s AIBA World Champion Li Jinzi and leading
Russian, Nadezhda Torlopova - and so it came to pass that the
final was between Azeri, Yelena Vystropova and ‘birthday girl’,
England’s Savannah Rose Marshall , 21 today.
Marshall, from Hartlepool in North Eastern England,, started
slowly but gradually gained the upper hand and held a 7:5 lead
at half way.
The third round was a rough one for ‘the silent assassin’ (as
Marshall is known to the British Press corps) and she was on the
receiving end of an excellent uppercut which left her with a
bloody nose. They breed them tough in Hartlepool though and this
setback spurred her on – she kept in front, albeit narrowly, and
ended a deserving 17:15 winner.
What better way to celebrate a 21st Birthday than winning a
World title and qualify for the Olympics? A birthday that
Savannah will long remember.
She told BBC Sport: "I was only 12 when I walked into a boxing
ring, I loved it ever since and now I'm world champion."
"It hasn't even sunk in that I'm going to the Olympics yet. It's
crazy," Marshall added.
This has been a good week for the England team with all three of
their Olympic entrants duly qualifying for London 2012 . Today,
one wondered if Nicola Adams, in the 51kg Olympic flyweight
class could ‘upset’ host nation favourite, Ren Cancan?
China's two-time AIBA World Champion and Asian Games winner Ren
Cancan was quick off the mark and had a four points lead at the
end of the second round. She retained that advantage throughout
despite a good comeback by Adams.
Today there was little doubt but Cancan deserved her win here as
she had done two years ago in Barbados but come August in
London, one feels that Adams may well improve sufficiently to
reverse that result. Only time will tell. She will need though
to get off to a better start.
"This hasn't dented my confidence. It's been a great experience
and I've had an amazing time," said Adams.
"I qualified for the Olympics and that's what I came to do. In
London, it'll be on my own turf so the score will be different
"I'll be going for gold. I'll get a bit fitter and have a bit
more technical ability."
As for the 24 years old champion: "I was happy to get the
title," said Ren after the fight was over . "I practised so hard
for this moment."
"My next goal would be London Olympics. I am starting to analyse
my opponents to face in London. It would be my glory to win
something at the Olympics."
The highlight of the day was the third meeting of Russia’s Sofya
Ochigava and Ireland’s Katie Taylor in the 60kg Lightweight
final. Ochigava was confident she could reverse the 10:5 defeat
she suffered at Taylor’s hands in the European championship
decider last October in Rotterdam.
This was no classic but a tense and tight duel between two great
technical boxers, the scores were tied at 4-4 at the end of the
first two rounds, but Taylor held her nerve and composure and
led (8-6) as the bell tolled at the end of the third. She added
a further 3 points to her opponents 1 and thus claimed her
fourth World title in a row, on a score line 11:7.
Katie herself later told the assembled media : “It’s amazing to
win four world titles … it was such a tense fight, so close all
the way through, a real game of patience and nerves,” she said.
That is not surprising as both have a tremendous respect for one
another nowadays as could be seen after the presentation
“I just tried to concentrate. She was feinting constantly and I
was feinting constantly. She’s a complete counterpuncher and it
was always going to be difficult for her once she goes a few
points down. I’m just glad I’m going home with a gold medal “,
she told ‘The Irish Times’
Before the fight, coach and Dad ,Peter had forecast that it
would be a very technical battle for supremacy.
“She’s a great boxer, the Russian girl, and we knew it was going
to be tactical, but Thank God Katie held her nerve. This was not
a fight for the armchair viewers, this was one for the
connoisseurs,” he said.
“I’m just so glad to be going into the Olympics in the best
shape I’ve ever been in,” a delighted Taylor herself added
“Sofya is a fantastic boxer and she’s always been at the very,
very top. We have a great rivalry going on. We’re great friends
outside the ring but inside it’s different,” she went on.
“It’s an honour to represent my country and to go away hearing
‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ is a great feeling.”
Again today she repeated her call that the “Tripartite
Commission Invitation places” be given to the very best
competitors in all weight classes so that the world can see in
London just how good women’s boxing really is.
“Hopefully they make the right decisions when handing out those
wildcards. We need to showcase women’s boxing,” she said.
The perfect end to a perfect day for the champion came when she
was presented with the “Best Boxer of the Championships” award.
Of course it was not long before the Politicians added their
words of praise. Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins said it
was a great achievement which showed once again that Katie
Taylor is "one of our greatest ever competitors at international
Shortly after the Taoiseach Enda Kenny added: “ Congratulations
to Katie Taylor. This was another brilliant performance. She is
an outstanding and true champion. She has made us all proud and
lifted the heads of the Irish people”.
Minister of Sport Michael Ring took the opportunity to tell the
Irish nation : “Katie has shown how dedication, tenacity,
commitment and determination can achieve world titles and gold
medals. She is a great role model for her sport, and I hope her
fantastic achievement will encourage other women to take up her
sport. She is a superb ambassador for Women’s Boxing in Ireland
and I congratulate her on her Gold Medal. We are tremendously
proud that she will be flying the flag for Women’s Boxing in
Ireland in the London Olympics 2012”.
A complete list of the qualifiers from these three weight
classes can be found here. Do remember though that the
Tripartite Invitation places are yet to be announced.
PART II - China
Video of the Semi-Finals, and the Finals!