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.
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
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
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 aiba.org 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
Cancan Ren of China in the
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
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
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”
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.