The third day of competition in the AIBA Women's World Championships saw the legendary Katie Taylor of Ireland in the ring for the first time in the hotly contested lightweight category. Even though her main rival is not in the competition, today's action showed that there are plenty of other serious contenders for the lightweight medals in Barbados.
Another legend in women's boxing, Mary Kom from India, easily cleared the next hurdle on her quest for a fourth world title at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex today. Proving that the move up to 48kg has been a mere formality, she dispatched Australia's Jenny Smith before the end of the first round; the referee stopped the contest when the score was already 9:0 in Mary Kom's favor.
After a close 4:3 victory over Italy's Valeria Calabrese, Lynsey Holdaway vowed to put Wales on the map in the quarter-finals. Unfazed by the prospect of meeting Mary Kom in her next bout and still buzzing from the adrenaline of her win, the 25 year-old from Merthyr Tydfil was sitting in the front row of the athlete's seating deconstructing the bout with her Welsh team-mates Ashley Brace and Rebecca Price shortly after her victory.
"Road to Barbados" training camp star Anusha Kodithuwakku from Sri Lanka notched up a second consecutive victory today, edging past China's Luo Jiaoling 7:5 to book her place in the quarter-finals, much to the delight of her training camp colleagues. An in-form Alice Aparri will be her opponent on Wednesday after she beat Russia's Svetlana Gnevanova 8:3.
Big-scoring bouts put Romania's Steluta Duta (17:8) and Kazakhstan's Nazgul Boranbayeva (11:2) through to the next round, while Asian Champion Kim Myong Sim from North Korea had to work hard for her 6:3 victory over France's Sarah Ourahmoune to book the last quarter-final spot at light flyweight.
Lorna Weaver is an unlikely name for a French boxer and a post-bout interview revealed why. Weaver was born in France of English parents who later returned to England. But the 27-year-old decided to stay in her adopted homeland, where she boxes out of the Boxing Beats Aubervilliers club. She switched from French to Mancunian-accented English just as easily as she trod the canvas on her 17:4 victory over Pamela Sanchez of Costa Rica in the bantamweight division today.
Greece's Evgenia Tasidou put everything she had learned from the Road to Barbados training camp into practice perfectly today to beat Australia's Kelly McGrath 12:9. She will face Hungary's Csilla Nemedi-Varga in one of two all-European quarter-finals in this division.
Reigning European and World Champion Karolina Michalczuk from Poland eased into the quarter-final on the back of a clear 14:2 victory over Venezuela's Leiryn Flores. She faces Turkey's Ayse Tas in the next round in the second all-European affair. Tas beat Brazil's Clelia Dacosta 8:1, although her coach - dismissed in the fourth round - was unable to join in the ringside post-bout celebration.
The audience needed to watch closely if they wanted to see any jabs from Katie Taylor tonight. She showed a canny patience to simply wait for the right moment and launch devastating combinations against India's Neetu. A vicious right hook in the first round could almost have sealed the contest, but Neetu managed to hold out for the full eight minutes.
The 12:2 final result did not reflect the intensity of the competition. "I wouldn't say it was easy," Taylor said. "She was very awkward. The first bout of the tournament is always the hardest, just to get into the tournament. We have come over with four boxers. It makes it easier when I have someone to talk to and it's great that they could come along. Women's boxing is coming on really well in Ireland."
Taylor will face multiple PanAmerican Champion Adriana Araujo from Brazil in the quarter-final. A knock-down in the second round against Leeann Boodram put an early end to the bout when the referee stopped the contest with the score at 15:1 in Araujo's favor.
Kenya's Nganga Muthoni had an emphatic victory over Grenada's Chloe Toussaint with the referee stopping the bout before Toussaint had the chance to land a scoring punch. It was the second lightweight victory for Africa today after Morocco's Mahjouba Oubtil succeeded in another shut-out, eliminating Georgia's Marika Khorava by an impressive 16:0.
Saving the best until last, Queen Underwood of the USA and Road to Barbados training camp graduate Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan put on a thrilling display in the evening's final bout. Sensing the electric atmosphere the referee tried to intervene as little as possible as the boxers tussled but drew the line at a bizarre chest-bumping incident in the second round that earned both boxers a penalty. The score was 6:6 at the end of the eight minutes and an agonizing single point difference on the individual scores handed Underwood the victory, leaving Chorieva in floods of tears at missing out on the quarter-final.
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