Taylor excels at the ExCeL
 (with additional reporting from - August 6, 2012
by Michael O'Neill

BACKGROUND : Another magnificent advertisement for women’s boxing today at the ExCeL Centre in London which reached the quarter finals stage. Not a spare seat to be found in the 10,000 seater arena and hundreds more outside seeking that elusive non-available ticket.

Across the Irish Sea, in the seaside resort of Bray, home of World Champion(60kg) Katie Taylor, Gardaí (police) estimated that in excess of 6,000 people had turned out on the seafront to cheer on their favourite, on big screens, as she faced up to Team GB’s Natasha Jonas.

The atmosphere within the ExCeL Centre was truly electric – the British fans have been hugely supportive of all their Olympic athletes, and with some justification – today was no exception yet they were out sung by their Irish neighbours whose chants of "Olé, olé olé “ and rendering of “ The Fields of Athenry” almost brought the house down.


Tonight an International Olympic Committee spokesperson said that during the Jonas v Taylor bout, the decibel level peaked at 113.7 – the highest recorded at the XXX Olympiad thus far.

I was at the Velodrome last week when the previous level was set during Team GB’s win in the cycling final but this was even greater. Remember that the average noise of a jet engine is some 140 Db.

Within the ExCeL arena it was without doubt the best atmosphere at any fight – male or female – since the boxing programme commenced . There was much of the usual friendly banter between the British and Irish fans as they endeavoured to out sing one another with chants of ‘Team GB’ and Olé, olé olé”


It was though the quality of the boxing once again that stood out. Many of the fans I spoke with had been unsuccessful in their bid for tickets to their first love, for example Track and Field yet without exception they all professed to be ’ pleasantly surprised’ by the level of skill and commitment involved . There was a real family atmosphere on both days so far – mixture of men, women and children, young and old.

USA Boxer Marlen Esparza set to fight her opponent

A reminder that here on WBAN we have brought you earlier today, Julie Goldsticker’s comprehensive reports on the bouts that brought joy to Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields of the United States so here we concentrate on the rest of the day’s news.

THE ACTION : - as seen through the eyes of the team in the British capital.

Starting the action in the Flyweight (51kg) category was top seed and reigning three-time AIBA World Champion Cancan Ren from China in action against Russian 28-year-old Elena Savelyeva. The first round began tentatively with both boxers showing restraint, but a good straight gave the Chinese 24-year-old southpaw the edge. A good three punch combination demonstrated Ren’s speed in the second as she took the round over the European Champion. The 24-year-old policewoman from China continued to dominate and took the final two rounds to record a 12:7 victory.

Cancan Ren of China in the ring...

The crowd went wild once again as legend Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte, or Mary Kom for short, made her way into the ring to do battle with 24-year-old Maroua Rahali from Tunisia. The Indian southpaw was giving so much height away to her rival that she had to wait, be patient and calculating, in order to score on the counter, doing so perfectly in the first as she just edged it. A good right hook, and another, allowed her to dictate proceedings to take the second. The 29-year-old mother-of-two was now getting into her stride in the third and boxed brilliantly with several combinations hitting their target as she went into the final round with a seven point advantage. A big overhead right assured her of her place in the semi-finals and a guaranteed medal, after a classy and confident 15:6 victory.

Kom declared afterwards, "I am extremely happy, my dreams have come true. For the past year I have been dreaming of an Olympic medal and now it has happened. My focus now is on trying to achieve silver, then after that let's see. For the last three or four years, I have been training with men that are taller and heavier than me. It has helped a lot".

In the last of the Flyweight (51kg) quarter-finals, Great Britain’s AIBA World Championships silver medallist Nicola Adams went head to head with Stoyka Petrova of Bulgaria and a big right hand followed by a huge left in the first saw the second seed take the early initiative. A good left uppercut and some quick one-twos through the guard of the Bulgarian southpaw had Adams dominating the second to the raucous applauds of the spectators. Stepping up a gear, the Brit overpowered Petrova in the final two rounds, finding time to do an ‘Ali’ style shuffle on her way to inflicting an impressive 16:7 defeat on her opponent.

Michael O'Neill, Journalist

There was an atmosphere like never before at the ExCeL Arena, with the Irish supporters present outnumbering those of the home nation. Thousands of flags were being held aloft as Irish quadruple World Champion Katie Taylor made her entrance into a cauldron of noise that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. She faced tough competitor Natasha Jonas from Great Britain in what promised to be an absolute thriller. The fight lived up to its billing. 26-year-old Taylor was just class in the first, throwing a four punch combination then some vicious hard straights to take the round in resounding fashion.

Jonas battled hard in the second with a straight left putting the Irish legend on the back foot as the points were shared. It was fast and furious in the third with Taylor catching the 28-year-old Brit with a fantastic right and Jonas was forced to take a standing eight count in an electric round. Round four brought the house down, Taylor soaking up the punches from her rival in a defensive master class before pouncing with some thunderous straights to take the bout 26:15. It was by far the best contest of the tournament so far, an absolute epic and a fantastic advert for women’s boxing. The noise levels for that bout were measured at 113.7 decibels, the equivalent of having a jackhammer by your ear, top class.

Taylor told the packed media centre, “Natasha is a super boxer and a fantastic person. I had to work so hard. She was not hurt at all. I am just delighted with the win”. On reaching the semis, she declared, “I am here to win gold, nothing else. Anything other than a gold medal will be a failure for me.On the support of the crowd, she said, “With support like that it is just amazing, but for me, except for the atmosphere, this was just another fight".

Size did not matter for Tajikistan’s Mavzuna Chorieva against the tall Cheng Dong from China, as she expertly moved inside to work the body and throw some deft uppercuts and overheads throughout four quality rounds. The first round was drawn but after that teenage Chorieva, who came third at the AIBA World Boxing Championships, exerted her authority to outbox her opponent on her way to a solid 13:8 victory.

Brazilian 31-year-old orthodox Adriana Araujo’s good counter-punching style got the better of Morocco’s Mahjouba Oubtil in the opening two rounds as she landed some good stiff jabs as well as some hard hooks. In the third, the 29-year-old mounted a good come back to win the round. The Pan-American Champion from Brazil did well in the closing stages to ensure she progressed 16:12.

In the last of the Lightweight (69kg) contests, rangy New Zealander Alexis Pritchard struggled to cope with the speed of the second seeded southpaw Sofya Ochigava, the silver medallist at the recent AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. The Russian was just too quick and precise, and was too difficult to read in the first two rounds as she moved in quickly to land some solid shots. Ochigava threw a thunderous left hook and Pritchard had to take a standing eight count in the third. In the final round, the 25-year-old Russian was landing at will with that vicious right hand of hers doing the damage as she went on to record a resounding 22:4 victory.

The first of the Middleweight (75kg) bouts saw reigning AIBA World Champion and top seed Savannah Marshall from Great Britain take on tough Kazak Marina Volnova. The ‘Silent Assassin’ just could not get into gear in the opening exchanges as Volnova stood up to her, equalling her in every department. It continued to be the same in the second as Marshall could not get to grips with her rival. In the third, Volnova was the one applying the pressure and, to the dismay of the crowd, she claimed the points in that one. It was a major upset as the Marina Volnova took the last round to win 16:12 and knock-out the favourite.

Experienced Canadian Mary Spencer began well against Jinzi Li of China, taking the first round with the clever use of the jab. In the second however, the Chinese came back strong, cornering Spencer before unloading some penetrating straights to score heavily. The two orthodox boxers were evenly matched in the third as they both exchanged some solid punches to draw the round. A real battle ensued in the final round as the two went toe-to-toe, trading blows throughout but Li was the one who came out on top to win 17:14.

Nadezda Torlopova was straight out of the blocks in the final bout of the session with straight and right hooks doing serious damage in the first and second rounds. Two huge right hands sent her opponent Edith Ogoke of Nigeria to the canvas in the third as the Russian completely dominated the exchanges. In the end, it was a frightening display of power by Torlopova who looked in fine form as she cruised to a thunderous 18:8 victory.

That session was one the best of the tournament so far and really had the crowd up on its feet cheering on some truly world class athletes. They will be looking forward to more of the same as the evening session sees the Men’s Light (60kg), Middle (75kg) and Super Heavyweight (91+kg) quarter-finals take place”.

What the British and Irish papers say :

“The Guardian :

You would not want to pick an argument with Katie Taylor. That Natasha Jonas did and lost 26-15 to the Irish boxing phenomenon at the Olympics is to her eternal credit.

It was the bout of the day – and arguably the bout of the tournament so far. The ever-smiling Liverpudlian lightweight can say now that, although she missed an Olympic medal, she traded quality punches on the grandest stage with the best female boxer there has ever been or, possibly, ever will be. “

“it is easy to run out of superlatives describing a woman whose hand speed, footwork, power and ring craft are every bit as good as many of her male counterparts”

“Irish Independent”:

With a huge Irish contingent in the hall, Taylor had far too much power for the Liverpudlian and was deemed to have won three of the four rounds. The exception was the second, in which Jonas launched a mini comeback, managing to hold Taylor to 5-5. But, with the score now 10-7 in Taylor's favour, the Bray girl launched a furious third round attack that forced the Liverpudlian into taking a count.

“London Evening Standard”:

The famed Irish supporters lived up to their name as they roared on their hero in an extraordinary atmosphere. For once at this Olympics a Brit felt like a visiting competitor as Liverpool’s Jonas struggled to contend with the noise and Taylor’s opening combinations right from the start.

And finally :

The boxers themselves:

Natasha Jonas : "I'm not going to make any excuses, she's still the best, she comes out on top every time," she said.” I have come here feeling the fittest, the leanest, the healthiest, smartest boxer I could be but she is still the best. I take my hat off to her. There was nothing else I could do. I could've thrown the kitchen sink at her or maybe drive a bus into her. I hope she goes on to win it."

Katie Taylor : "She's a super boxer and a fantastic person. I had to work so hard. She wasn't hurt at all. I am just delighted with the win." "It’s unbelievable. The atmosphere was incredible today. I just thank God for a great victory, he’s my strength and my shield every time I step into the ring.

"I just tried to stay calm and composed throughout the whole thing really, but it was hard not to get excited at the end. The atmosphere was incredible. I knew the support was going to be great here but I didn’t realise it was going to be so great. It was amazing to box in front of."

And so to Wednesday – and semi-finals day. Another packed house no doubt and another great advertisement for women’s boxing we hope. Join us then for all the latest news from London 2012.


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