Another bright and sunny day in Barbados with current temperatures in the early 30′s as we approach day 6 .. Quarter finals day in the 6th Women’s World Boxing Championships sees Ireland’s Katie Taylor face to face with rising young 17 years old Russian star, Anastasia Belyakova in a bout which is likely to commence between 22.30 and 23.30 Irish time tonight, depending on earlier results.
The Russians had expected their team Captain, Sofya Ochigava to defeat Taylor here and claim the Gold medal but following a cruciate ligament injury sustained in Ukraine recently she has been unable to travel to Barbados and is replaced by Belyakova. There is strength in depth as always in Russian boxing so anyone who represents that country is to be taken seriously. Already women’s boxing experts forecast a bright future for Belyakova and she has twice recently defeated Ukrainian champion, Oleksandra Sydorenko including a 12-7 win in their last 16 contest on Tuesday.
For the more experienced Taylor today is a step further in her quest for a third World Championship title in a row. The Taylors (Father Pete, himself a former Irish boxing champion) have a strict routine on such occasions. Pete will review a DVD of recent fights involving her opponent whilst Katie will go to the weigh in, go for a walk, have a light meal, and then relax with some Christian worship songs and music on her trusted iPod. As a devout Christian she will also read from the Bible including her favourite Psalm 18. ‘He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms’. She and her Mother Bridget attend St Mark’s Pentecostal Church in Dublin whenever possible. She does not drink, does not smoke and takes her position as a role model very seriously. A “tigress” in the ring, Katie Taylor is a very quiet, shy and modest individual outside and not always at ease during media conferences or interviews. She plans to study Irish again before the London Games. Perhaps her greatest concern at this time is that so many in Ireland especially in the media seem to think she has only got to ‘turn up’ in London’s Excel Centre to collect the Gold. Understandable that makes her concerned for no one knows more than Katie that the standard of world boxing has improved considerably since it was accepted as an Olympic sport and countries like Russia,China,India and United States to name but four are throwing “big money” towards ensuring that their competitors come out on top in London 2012.
Tonight is but another stepping stone to London before that hopefully another World Championship medal for Katie. Hard to believe that it is now almost 10 years since the 15years old Ms Taylor stepped into the ring at the National Stadium for Ireland’s first ever licensed female contest… Her opponent that day was one Alanna Audley of Belfast now better known as Alanna Murphy and a team mate in Barbados this week. (Taylor won 23-12 and a “star was born”)
In other quarter final bouts tonight Norway’s Ingrid Egner will meet the Polish no 1, Karolina Graczyk whilst Cheng Dong, runner up to Katie Taylor at the last World event in 2008 meets with the Czech Republic’s Danuse Dilhofova (a bruising fight that will be!). Should Taylor win tonight she will meet the winner of Denitsa Eliseeva (Bulgaria) and Queen Underwood (USA) in Friday’s semi final. Taylor has met and defeated both consistently in recent meetings.