Quarter finals day at the 8th Women’ s European Boxing Championships at the TopSport Arena in Rotterdam where the Dutch Boxing Association, is like its Irish counterparts (IABA) celebrating its 100 years centenary. The standard of competition is improving all the time as one always anticipated from the moment it was included in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Most of the “international” attention at the stadium is centered on the prospect of a ‘mouthwatering’ 60kg (lightweight) final clash between Russian team captain, Sofya Ochigava and Ireland’s Katie Taylor. Lucia Rijker, former World Pro. champion who is one of the Ambassadors for the Sport at these championships and herself one of the ‘ all time greats’ saw it this way for WBAN.org – the acknowledged leading media authority on Women’s boxing – when comparing the styles of the two earlier in the week:-
Sofya Ochigava: “She fought with both hands down, great balance,great feeling for distance,typical Russian style of in and out footwork, (closing the distance ) with lots of feints and great power and explosion in her hands. I was captured by her exceptional grace in her movement and the sound of her movement”.
Katie Taylor: “The most feared fighter in 60kilos weight division at the tournament. Super fast against her slower opponent , Julia Irmen from Germany, Katie had great mastery of self, and the ring, plus explosion in her 3,4 punch combinations with great eyes, moved on the balls of her feet with explosive non stop feints,she showed great experience. Moves like a Pro! A shining star to watch out for in the future”
Lucia Rijker, now CEO of Rijker Striker and an international motivator coach in USA and in Europe will be remembered for her excellence in several sports.She won two world titles in Pro.boxing where she remained unbeaten,as indeed she did in kick boxing . Was also world karate and/or kickboxing champion on four occasions. Her only loss was in 1994 in a Muay Thai fight against the then (male) world champion Somchai Jaidee so a recognised authority on the world scene.
All Irish eyes today will be on Katie Taylor, Ceire Smith and Lauragh O’Neill – who coincidentally will all be fighting from the blue corner – when the action begins. Smith and Taylor will be involved in the opening session with Lauragh O’Neill’s bout later this evening.
Taylor’s opponent today is one Ayzanat Hajiyeva from Azerbaijan – a name that will not be very familiar to boxing fans in Europe but she was beaten by Taylor when representing Russia in Ningbo City’s World championships of 2008. Taylor won convincingly then and it would be a major surprise if the Bray BC woman does not come out on top again today. If she does win then her semi-final on Friday would see her meet either Sweden’s Helena Falk (Taylor won their most recent meeting in Bray’s Royal Hotel this summer) OR Switzerland’s Sandra Brugger, again someone that Taylor has beaten more than once.
For Ceire Smith and Lauragh O’Neill this is ‘new territory’ though. Should she overcome Poland’s Sandra Drabik in their 54kg bout today (that itself would be a huge step forward for the Cavan woman as Drabik is one of Europe’s best) then Smith would come up against either Athina Malefaki or Ivanna Krupenia in the semi-finals. Win or lose today Smith will have benefited greatly from taking part in these championships.
As for Kilkenny’s Lauragh O’Neill, (a second year geography and sociology degree student at NUI Galway) her task is equally daunting since she meets that much decorated Hungarian Timea Nagy this evening . Nagy won their last meeting with something to spare and it would be one of the sensations of this week if O’Neill were to win this one. Fantastic for the Paulstown boxer – and women’s boxing in Ireland – if she did but we must be realistic and on form whilst the heart says O’Neill the head says Nagy will come through to meet Zuzana Touskova or Svetlana Kosova on Friday.
Tomorrow is a well deserved rest day in Rotterdam for the boxers . The semi-finals and finals will take place on Friday, and Saturday evening.
Sandra Drabik (Poland) v Ceire Smith (Ireland)
Athina Malefaki (Greece) v Ivanna Krupenia (Ukraine)
Elena Walendzik (Germany) v Elena Savelyeva (Russia)
Ayse Tas (Turkey) v Nina Smith (England)
Denitsa Eliseeva (Bulgaria) v Oleksandra Syndorenko (Ukraine)
Sofya Ochigava (Russia) v Karolina Graczyk (Poland)
Ayzanat Hajiyeva (Azerbaijan) v Katie Taylor (Ireland)
Sandra Brugger (Switzerland) v Helena Falk (Sweden)
Selma Yagci (Turkey) v Sylwia Kusiak (Poland)
Zuzana Touskova (Czech Republic) v Svetlana Kosova (Russia)
Timea Nagi (Hungary) v Lauragh O’Neill (Ireland)
(Inna Shevchenko (Ukraine) received a bye into the semi-finals and
awaits the winner of the Yagci v Kusiak bout)
and a recap of the Irish results to-date:
European Women’s Championships (Topsportcentrum) Rotterdam.
October 17th (Preliminaries)
60Kg: Katie Taylor (Bray) beat Julia Irmen (Germany) 15-7
69Kg: Laoise Traynor (Bray) lost to Lauren Price (Wales) 2-21
75Kg: Sinead Kavanagh (Drimnagh) beat Viktoria Kebikava (Belarus) 18-9
October 18th (Last 16)
48Kg: Lynne McEnery (St Pauls) lost to Lynsey Holdaway (Wales) 11-12
51Kg: Katie Rowland (Geesala) lost to Nicola Adams (England) RET3
54Kg: Ceire Smith (Cavan) beat Csilla Nemedi (Hungary) RSC4
57Kg: Michaela Walsh (Holy Family) lost to Sandra Kruk (Poland) 9-16
60Kg; Katie Taylor (Bray) beat Romina Marenda (Italy) 22-3
64Kg: Kelly Harrington (Corinthians) lost to Martina Schmaranzova (Czech Republic) 9-9 (count back)
75Kg: Sinead Kavanagh (Drimnagh) lost to Savannah Marshall (England) 3-22