▲ Katie Taylor kisses the gold after claiming her fifth AIBA title. Photo by Douglas MacDonald
Katie Taylor is being hailed as the greatest sportsperson Ireland has ever produced after winning her fifth AIBA Women's World Boxing Championship gold medal at the Halla Gymnasium, Jeju City, on Monday, Nov. 24.
Taylor defeated 27-year-old Yana Alekseevna from Azerbaijan in a unanimous decision from the judges. Despite raucous support from the crowd, the Azeri struggled to impose herself on Taylor, who was controlled and measured.
The woman from Bray has now equalled the AIBA record for five wins after dominating the sport for a decade. She began fighting under her father’s tutelage at age 12 and already has the London 2012 Olympics gold and every European championships since 2005.
“I am absolutely delighted. It was such a tight contest, every round was very close and tricky. The tactics from my dad and Zuar Antia were spot on again. Every Championships is so hard to win and so hard to defend,” she said after the fight.
▲ Taylor battled hard with Yana Alekseevna from Azerbaijan but won favor with all the judges. Photo by Douglas MacDonald
Taylor was one of 20 boxers fighting for 10 titles across 10 weight categories on Monday. An initial 280 fighters of 67 nationalities had been represented at the finals, with seven countries finally represented by the winners..
Russia performed strongly throughout, and the team walked away with three golds after wins for Zinaida Dobrynina RUS (57 k.g.), Anastasia Beliakova, RUS (64 k.g.) and Zenfira Magomedaliyeva RUS (81+ k.g.).
The only Russian loser on the day was Saadat Abdullaeva who lost to Panama’s Atheyna Bylon in the 69 k.g. class. Bylon was the tallest of the fighters in the ring and her flailing arms contrasted with Abdullaeva’s strength and tenacity in a memorable fight.
A Panamanian had never won a bout at the championships before her first round win, and she leaped into the arms of her trainer after claiming her country’s first gold, silencing the noisy Russian fans.
The Americans were also well voiced in the stands as they walked away with golds courtesy of Marlen Esparza (51 k.g.) and Claressa Shields (75 k.g.), the first time they have picked up more than one title at a single championships.
Shields, just 19 years of age and already London 2012 Olympic champion, was named Outstanding Boxer of the tournament after her 3-0 defeat of Qian Li of China. Receiving her medal and award, she emotionally thanked her coaches and fans.
"I'm totally humbled, my heart feels so full. To win my first AIBA world title was more than enough, but to win the Outstanding Boxer award too, I'm just so thankful."
Although not among the finalists, South Korean Shim Hee Jung took to the podium to receive bronze in the 64 k.g. class. It was the first time a South Korean had won a medal at the championships.
Other results of note included first golds for Bulgaria and Kazakhstan and Japan’s Madoka Wada became the youngest ever medalist after her bronze in the 48 k.g. at 19 years of age.
The next AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships will be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in two years and will act as the qualifying competition for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
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