It was a night of ‘mixed emotions’ at the Mount Brandon Hotel & Conference Centre in Tralee on Saturday as Katie Taylor enjoyed a second win of the weekend in Munster, on this occasion overcoming the strong challenge of Seattle’s own Queen Underwood in the four rounder hosted by the Tralee Boxing Club.
For the Bray woman, it augurs well for the challenges ahead including the European Confederation (EUBC) Olympic qualifiers in Samsun, Turkey and later the 2016 AIBA Women’s World championships in the Kazakhstan capital, Astana.
A top two finish in Turkey or reaching the semi-finals in Astana would guarantee Taylor a place in Rio 2016 where she hopes to defend that Olympic crown from London 2012 followinga ‘battle royal’ against Sofia Ochigava.
Quanitta ‘Queen’ Underwood bade farewell to the ‘amateur’ ranks in Tralee as on returning to the United States she is scheduled to turn pro in March and will be hoping to add several Pro titles to the Pan American and nine USA titles she has won in the past 11 years as well as various other medals in the AIBA world at national and international level.
The American started off at a furious pace, seeking to take control from the opening bell but met her match in Taylor who had particularly good rounds two and three and pressed home her advantage in the final stanza leaving little doubt about the final verdict though it has to be said that Underwood fought a gallant fight and would have defeated most of today’s ‘amateurs’. It was the fourth meeting between the duo with the Bray boxer maintaining her 100% record.
This of course was also a repeat of the 2010 AIBA World championships semi-final in Barbados when Taylor emerged victorious 18-16 having been behind with barely a minute left of that contest.
Both boxers received a well-deserved standing ovation from the ‘full house’ present at the Brandon Hotel and congratulations too to the Tralee BC for putting on this show which included many leading young boxers from Munster.
After the bout, the sporting American was asked why she had her last ‘amateur’ bout in Ireland rather than at home in Seattle :
“Coming to Ireland was an opportunity I could not miss. So I decided to come here and have my last fight (as an amateur) and it turned out to be the best fight,” she went on.
“She (Taylor) improves all the time. I told her it’s hard being a champion and being on top for so long. You’ve got to keep the hunger going, you’ve gotta keep the desire.
“You got so many people wanting you to lose. People are saying: ‘We want someone, beat her, beat her.’ That’s how it was for me in the States. I’ve been a champion since 2007 and they’re always looking for someone to take my spot.
“So much of that just got the best of it, and I’m just like, ‘you know what, forget it.’ No support, no one wants me to win, I just might as well focus on myself.”
For the Bray woman this was the 61st consecutive occasion on which her hand was raised in victory and her 163rd win from 170 bouts to date.
As Queen Underwood sets out for home, we wish her every success in the Pro ranks and will long remember her outstanding career as an amateur albeit she never did have her hand raised in victory against Katie Taylor but then precious few have.