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Taylor champions the cause of women's boxing as Sandy Ryan and Elena Saveleva shine in Baku
by Michael O'Neill
June 20, 2015

(JUNE 20)  Ireland’s Katie Taylor makes her first appearance of the European Games in Baku on Sunday when she meets old ‘friend and foe’ Denitsa Eliseeva in the last 16 of the 60kg lightweight division at the Crystal Hall 2 in Baku.

At Friday’s press conference though she was keen to discuss a subject, with the world and Azeri media, which is ‘dear to the hearts’ of women boxers and thousands of males too and that is to keep on fighting for a better deal for women, a cause she shares with WBAN.

The Olympic Gold medallist has long championed the cause of women’s boxing and is one of the main reasons why it was included in London 2012 so the media were keen to again hear her views ; she expressed her unhappiness that although there are five women’s weights in Baku again there will only be three in Rio 2016.

She went on: "We've only got three weights, so many female boxers are missing out," she added. "It's heartbreaking and I'd love to lead the push for at least five weights immediately- it would be perfect for female boxing and I would love to push for that legacy." Be sure she will continue to fight as hard out of the ring as she does when in it.

Sunday’s other major bout for women is also in the 60kg where Azerbaijan’s Yana Alekseevna (the 2014 World losing finalist against Taylor) meets that tough Finnish warrior Mira Potkonen.

Another fascinating encounter albeit the local boxer is favourite and of course for the winner another tilt at Taylor, if the latter overcomes Elisseva that is.

Another Irish boxer, Michaela Walsh (fighting here at 54kg) lost Saturday morning to the experienced world no 4 and World championships bronze medallist Elena Savelena. Walsh paid tribute to her opponent who was the better boxer on the day according to Walsh though the latter was quick to put that disappointment behind her and talk instead about the Rio Olympic qualifiers saying that she will revenge her Commonwealth Games loss to Nicola Adams.

The Holy Family Belfast boxer confirmed she will drop back down to flyweight for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and, asked about her prospects against Adams, said: "I will beat her. One hundred per cent."

At 64kg, Britain’s Sandy Ryan won a silver medal at the last edition of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Jeju, and has gold medal expectations in Baku.

Ryan’s victory over German Light Welterweight (64 kg) Cindy Rogge further confirmed her status as one of the best of the world in her weight class, and her next rival will be Azerbaijan’s EUBC European Women’s Continental Champion Elena Vystropova.

Should be another great fight and should the English woman win that bout she will well and truly have announced herself on the world scene though since there is no 64kg for women, it could well be that she will represent Great Britain in the Olympics qualifying tournaments at 60 kg as Natasha Jonas has retired and Chantelle Cameron has not progressed as well as the Team GB Management had once hoped.

Nicola Adams has earned a place in the quarter-finals of the European Games after an emphatic win over Hungarian Katalin Ancsin in the 51kg preliminaries on Friday.

Adams will now face Bulgarian Stoyka Petrova in Monday's quarter finals. The two have met several times before, with Nicola beating the Bulgarian in the quarter finals of London 2012 Olympic Games, but Petrova denied Adams a medal by defeating her in the quarter-finals of the 2014 European Championships in Rotterdam.

Adams outboxed Petrova again at a Boxam tournament in Spain in May. Who will win this time? Bound to be another ‘humdinger’ which could go either way. Both camps are confident of success.

An early casualty in Baku was GB’s Savannah Marshall who lost 0:3 to Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands. "I am gutted, I saw that I lost every round which I feel was a little harsh, but she was just a better boxer on the day," a dejected Marshall the waiting Press gallery. "It's the third time we have fought against each other and it's now 2-1 to her. To be fair she's world class and I think she will go on and win the tournament.

"I'm confident that she will go on and win so that makes it a little easier to take. The Dutchwoman too agreed that this was a fine win over Marshall whom she described as a great boxer who will soon be back on the medal trail after a lengthy absence following injury. Fierce opponents in the ring but they greatly respect each other and expect to meet again on the road to Rio.

Saturday’s results from Baku (via EUBC ) : http://www.eubcboxing.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Boxing2015-Baku-2015-European-Games-Session9-Results.pdf

Thursday &Friday’s results from Baku (via Strefa) : http://amateur-boxing.strefa.pl/Championships/EuropeanGames2015.html

BBC TV interview with Sandy Ryan : http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/boxing/33211968

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