BRAY STAR Katie Taylor will fight for a gold medal this afternoon in front an adoring crowd that’s ready to hail the coronation of Ireland’s sublimely talented boxer.
And her opponent, Sofya Ochigava, feels like she has already lost.
Ochigava and Taylor will meet at 4.45pm in the lightweight final, one of three bouts to wrap up the first Olympic women’s boxing tournament. US middleweight Claressa Shields fights for a gold medal against Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova, and Chinese flyweight Ren Cancan meets Britain’s Nicola Adams.
Taylor’s biggest rival believes the Irish boxer gets much more help than she needs from referees, judges and even the highest levels of the amateur sport. That adoring crowd cheering her every move has an effect on the judges as well, Ochigava believes.
“When you go in to box against her, you begin with minus-10 points,” Ochigava said in English last night.
Taylor is the unofficial best pound-for-pound fighter of the women’s sport after winning four straight world championships with an entertaining style. Her two bouts in London have been blowout wins backed by an arena filled with thousands of Irish fans.
But Ochigava is fed up with losing to Taylor in international competitions, most recently in the world championships in May. She knows the Irish crowd is a major advantage for Taylor in London, but thinks Taylor has plenty of advantages already.
“It’s difficult,” Ochigava said. “When you go boxing against Katie Taylor, you’re not boxing with her. You’re boxing with all judges around the table, and it’s difficult boxing against all the system, but I will try like all other girls.
“I’m sure Taylor will come out swinging. She knows the opponent’s score has been preset to minus 10. AIBA’s goal is to give her gold. AIBA, they want to make her a superstar, but when a boxer goes in the ring, it’s not important if she is world champ or not world champ,” Ochigava said.
‘Launch an appeal’
Afterwards, in quotes translated by Russian journalist Slava Malamud on Twitter, Ochigava suggested: “[The] key to victory is to land more punches and then file an appeal.
“Ireland is in a financial crisis because they’ve spent all their money on Taylor’s referees,” she added. “Personally I thought Natasha Jonas beat her in rounds one and two. She wets herself against some boxers, but those she doesn’t respect, she comes out swinging with those 7-punch combos.”
- additional reporting AP