A sunny October morning here at the TopSport Centrum in Rotterdam Suid where this evening (from 6pm – Irish time) the finals of the 8th European Women Boxing Championships take place – Irish eyes here – as at home – will be focused on the 60kg lightweight event, the fifth bout on the card – 4 rounds each of two minutes – between Bray’s Katie Taylor and Russian team captain Sofya Ochigava, twice a world champion at 51kg and 54kg.
Hardly had yesterday’s semi-finals ended but the thoughts of “Team Taylor” turned to the final where the three times World, and four times European Union champion, seeks a record-breaking fifth-in-a-row European Championship title against Ochigava who the records show defeated the Bray woman in the Czech Grand Prix meeting of March 2010 in Usti nad Labem by 8-1.
Who among the audience that night -apart from the Russian camp – and (of course) the judges, believe that that was a fair reflection of that night’s bout? But judging in Rotterdam has been of a very high standard throughout the week and strictly according to the recently introduced AIBA scoring system.
“Katie can’t wait for this fight. She can’t wait to get in the ring for it, and I am confident that she will win,” said her coach and dad, Peter Taylor last evening.
“We’ll work on the tactics tonight and have them worked out for tomorrow.
“ Katie gave a boxing exhibition today and we’re delighted with her performance in her fourth fight in five days.
“We are all looking forward to the final tomorrow and it should be a good fight.”
Irish team-manager Anna Moore had this to say after yesterday’s semi-final.
“Katie gave a very good display today. She went out to enjoy herself in the last round, but she didn’t leave anything to chance and she put in her punches as well,” said Moore.
A measure of Taylor’s domination of the 60kg lightweight division is that should she win today it will continue a remarkable “Championship” record which has already resulted in her taking four European, four European Union and three World Championships in succession and at a time when the standard of women’s boxing has been improving world-wide , year by year.And still only 25.
That said, Ochigava has demonstrated here that she is almost back to her best, and certainly she has also been taking her Team captain role seriously as could be seen yesterday when she was noisily encouraging her Russian team mates to such an extent that she received a warning from officials that she would be banished to the stands if she did not move further away from the ringside. She did – for a matter of seconds – but her enthusiasm was such that she soon returned !
So who will win today? There are many, including some neutrals who see the Russian coming out on top, but an even greater number who see Taylor continuing her winning ways in major championships. Sure it could be close but Taylor is close to her best and was most likely reserving her energies yesterday. A win for Taylor? Yes but the margin of victory will be much less than in her other bouts here this week.
The 64kg final will also be watched with interest by the Irish management sincs its pits Turkey’s two times world champion, Gulsum Tatar against Armine Sinibian of Armenia, who has impressed many on her way to the final. Tatar and GB’s Natasha Jonas fought a tremendous battle in yesterday’s semi-final and both Jonas and Tatar will most likely move back to 60kg shortly – well in advance of the one Olympic qualifier in China.
Home nation’s hopes of glory in the 100th anniversary year of the Dutch Federation (Nederlandse Boksbond” lie with (69kg) Marichelle deJong who meets Mariia Badulina , the Ukrainian titleholder whilst in the 75kg classification Nouchka Fontijn meets Russia’s Nadezhada Torlopova.
You can follow the action via www.ewbc.eu (click on LIVE at top of that page)