Boxing: Katie Taylor remains AIBA
60kg World no.1 ahead of 2016 Women's Worlds in Astana
by Michael O'Neill
May 14, 2016
(MAY 14) Friday 13th – lucky for
some though not for all but it was an optimistic Team Ireland
who set off on Friday for Astana, Kazakhstan where the 2016 AIBA
World Championships for women get under way on 19th May.
Katie Taylor at
the P & G ‘Mums Campaign’ promotion in Dublin with Mum,
Bridget (second right) and Stephen Martin, Chief Executive
of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI)
As usual there are
only 3 women’s weights that allow female boxers to compete in
the Olympics – meaning 250 slots for men, only 36 for women
though there are in fact another seven weights in Astana with
Irish boxers competing in five of the seven weights.
The country’s three Olympic hopes are Cavan BC flyweight Ceire
Smith, Bray’s reigning Olympic champion, Katie Taylor and at
75kg, ‘new kid on the block’, Christina Desmond from Cork’s
Father Horgan’s club.
Ireland have also medal prospects in Smith, Desmond (who
defeated Nouchka Fontijn in Samsun), Dervla Duffy and Kelly
Harrington whilst Donna Barr, Moira McElligott and Grainne Walsh
are all capable of rising to the occasion and causing an upset.
The seeds for these Championship will follow the normal pattern
and thus Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields are expected to be
top seeds when the draw is made at the Rixos Hotel in Astana at
noon on 18th May though it is possible that Bulgaria’s Stanimira
Petrova (and not London 2012 Golden girl Nicola Adams or Silver
medallist from China, Ren Cancan) will head the 51kg rankings.
After her defeat of Taylor at the European qualifying tournament
in Samsun last month, many expected Azerbaijan’s Yana Alekseevna
to be number one seed but this seems unlikely under the seeding
system laid down by the AIBA in its own ‘Technical’ manual. The
AIBA has of course ‘torn up’ its own rule book on other
occasions most notably for the last Women’s Worlds in Jeju so
‘nothing is impossible’.
The pressure though is now on Alekseevna rather than on Taylor
who has dominated the world rankings for the past 10 years and
is expected to still be the number 1, in Rio, assuming she
qualifies. She needs a ‘top four’ finish in Astana to qualify
but could still get to Rio if either or both of Alekseevna and
Italy’s Irma Testa take Gold or Silver.
Prior to Samsun Taylor had not lost a competitive International
tournament since the Strandja Multi Nations in 2011 when she was
deemed to have lost to Bulgaria’s Denitsa Eliseeva. Five years
without a loss was a massive achievement and yet from that day
until Samsun, Taylor again went another five years without
losing. Could the Bray woman do it again, take the titles in
Astana and Rio and go another five years undefeated?
Indeed if she takes the coveted World crown in Astana, she will
become the first woman in the history of the sport to win six
successive titles and in the process and IF she retains the 60kg
belt she first claimed in New Delhi in 2006 she’ll not only
qualify for Rio 2016 but match Cuba’s Felix Savon (1986 to 1997)
as the only boxers to claim six in a row.
“We are living in thrilling times for women’s boxing, and the
2016 AIBA World Championships will once again raise the profile
of this incredible sport around the world,” said AIBA President
Dr Ching-Kuo Wu. “We are both fortunate and hugely proud to have
iconic champions, young talents and inspirational figures taking
part in Astana, and the city of Astana is ready to begin another
sporting journey by which future tournaments can be measured. I
am confident we will experience an amazing event in a country
with a longstanding boxing tradition”.
Ireland’s Katie Taylor and India’s Mary Kom will both be chasing
a record sixth World Title in Astana, with American Claressa
Shields, Britain’s Olympic champion Nicola Adams and Chinese
rival Ren Cancan also among the favourites for gold. Among the
73 nations represented by a record 326 boxers, Jordan,
Mozambique and Sierra Leone will be represented for the first
time in the competition’s history.
Billy Walsh who has masterminded so many Irish Golden moments in
the past is now in Team USA’s corner in Astana but Ireland has
one of the world’s outstanding Technical coaches in Zuari Antia.
Ironically there could be Ireland v USA ‘match ups’ in Astana (eg:
Taylor vs Mikaela Mayer; Smith vs Ginny Fuchs and/or Desmond vs
Claressa Shields) or later at the final Men’s World qualifier in
Baku in June.
Whatever happens in Astana, in Baku or in Rio, one thing is for
sure and that is that close friends Antia and Walsh will remain
‘best of friends’ as they have been since the Georgian came to
Ireland many moons ago and with Walsh put Ireland on the world
boxing map. Walsh’s departure for pastures new – in no small
measure due to the IABA stalling on a new contract – has opened
up new opportunities for USA boxing but thanks to Antia, the
country remains in a ‘safe pair of hands’.
Neighbours GB Boxing has selected five women to compete. The
women that have been selected in the three Olympic weight
categories are Nicola Adams (51kg flyweight), Chantelle Cameron
(60kg lightweight) and Savannah Marshall (75kg middleweight).
Adams has already qualified for Rio 2016 by winning the European
Continental Qualifying event in Turkey in April; Cameron and
Marshall both need to finish in the top four in their weight
class to book a place at Rio 2016.
Seventy three nations represented by 345 boxers have registered
to compete in the 9th edition of the AIBA World Women’s Elite
48kg: Donna Barr (Twin Towns)
51kg: Ceire Smith (Cavan BC)
54kg: Dervla Duffy (Mulhuddart BC)
57kg: Moira McElligott (St Michael’s Athy)
60kg: Katie Taylor (Bray BC)
64kg: Kelly Harrington (Glasnevin)
69kg: Grainne Walsh (Sparticus)
75kg: Christina Desmond (Fr Horgan’s)
Team Manager: Anna Moore
Coaches: Zuari Antia, Eddie Bolger, Pat McDonagh, Gerry Storey
You will find the Championships schedule here :
AIBA Astana Preview video : http://www.dailymotion.com/aiba
AIBA Women’s World Rankings May 2016 http://www.aiba.org/rankings-2/
AIBA qualification system for Rio 2016: http://iaba.ie/site3/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Rio2016QualificationSystem-Boxing-2.pdf