(JUNE 26) Ireland’s Katie
Taylor is through to the 60kg final of the inaugural European
Games in Baku as a result of this (Friday) morning’s dramatic
win over Azerbaijan’s Yana Alekseevna but the local fighter came
closer than anyone has yet done to defeat the 2012 Olympic
champion at the Crystal Hall in Baku.
Katie Taylor greets decision over Yana Alekseevna
It was a pulsating contest
throughout with ‘no quarter asked or given’ and the pair could
only be split by the judges on “countback”.
All three judges scored it 38-38 and were then asked to nominate
their 'preferred winner' – based on who they believed showed
more aggression and intent to win.
Two of them selected Taylor as the 'better fighter' and one
opted for Alekseevna.
"It was a close fight," said Taylor. "It was always going to be.
She's a top boxer. It was close, but I don't care, I'm through
to the finals. I know I was down after three rounds so I had to
go out and put the pressure on and try to win the round
Taylor went on to recall when she had a loss or two albeit some
years ago : "I know how it feels to lose. I think it's important
to feel those losses because I never want to feel like that
"I knew I was down after the third round so I had to go out and
put the pressure on her and try to win it clearly. The last
round was all about heart and thank God I pulled through."
The Bray woman had dropped the first round on two of the three
judges' cards but levelled it after an exciting second in which
her cleaner, more aggressive work paid off.
In an exciting third, Taylor's greater aggression was not
rewarded as once again the sharp work of Alekseeva edged her
ahead on the cards, paving the way for Taylor's fine last round.
Taylor admitted she endured some anxious moments in the
aftermath as the Azerbaijani coaches celebrated as if they fully
expected the verdict to go their way.
"It was always going to be a close fight because she's a top
boxer but I felt I won a lot of those rounds quite clearly.
"I always go into a fighting thinking the decision is going to
be fair and I relish these fights where the atmosphere is so
Had she ever feared that the verdict would go against her?
“Well no, I was always hopeful, and just praying. It was close,
as I expected, and I’m just happy to get through.
“I Thank God for a great performance, and a great victory.
Everyone at home has been praying for me, and I’m strengthened
by that, encouraged by that.
I wouldn’t be anywhere in life without God in my life, so I just
have to give him all the glory.
I think experience is everything is these big fights. You can’t
buy experience, and I’ve been in this situation so many times
Taylor, the most decorated athlete in women's Boxing, will face
Estelle Mossely in Saturday's final, after the Frenchwoman beat
Germany's Tasheena Bugar (3:0)in a unanimous decision in the
Hard though Bugar tried – and she did – she was no match for the
much improved French woman . It would be unfair to criticize the
German as some sections of media did – she gave of her all and
remember she is NOT ranked in the AIBA top 15 (only 15 are
ranked in that division) so getting to the semi-final was a big
step up and she will have learnt from the experience gained.
So how do the protagonists feel the fight will go?
"I've boxed her a few times," said Taylor. "I'll have a word
with my dad (her coach, Peter Taylor) about the fight. It's
going to be a tough fight."
The French boxer too predicted a close contest in the final. "I
have boxed with Katie two times and each time I lost, the second
time close," she said. "I hope tomorrow I'm going to win. I
think this one will be the closest of all our meetings."
Mossely vs Bugar scorecard here:
Taylor vs Alekseevna here: