IRISH great Katie Taylor begins her quest for a fifth consecutive World championship gold medal on Tuesday (November 18) when she boxes Dominica’s Valerian Spicer in her first bout at the tournament in Jeju.
The AIBA Congress, held on the Korean island before the start of the competition, revealed that there are plans to bring female boxers into the World Series of Boxing, the pro style league that is now part of the Olympic qualification process. That would lead to female boxers, like the men, competing without headguards.
Peter Taylor, Katie’s father and trainer, welcomed the proposal. “Her being the most recognised boxer, they probably need her on board for [the World Series of Boxing]. Katie would love to box in it. The headgear’s coming off as well,” Peter told Boxing News. “It’ll have to if she’s going to go into the WSB. It’s just another challenge for her. I think it’ll be a great challenge for the girls to box in the WSB. I think it’s a positive move as well the headgear coming off because they’re following in the footsteps of the lads and they’re not leaving female boxing behind. There’s a few people complaining about it saying females shouldn’t be boxing without the headgear. The females are actually probably more technical than the boys, they don’t lead with their heads as much as the boys. So I think it’s all positive. She’s looking forward to the WSB.”
To maintain momentum after the London Olympic Games, more competition opportunities for female boxers should have been created. “I think they were happy with the way the Olympic Games went. I think the females got more support than the males in the Olympic Games. Katie’s fight with Natasha [Jonas] had the record highest noise level I think. It was a shame. I think they rested on their laurels a bit about it – ‘now we’ve arrived’. I think with the support female boxing got in the Olympic Games, if it had been pushed enough they definitely would have got five weights in [for the next Olympic Games], because it was so popular, everybody tuned in to watch. In Ireland it got the biggest viewing figures ever when Katie was boxing.
“I think they should have really used that and built on it. I think they rested on their laurels a little bit. There’s more to female boxing than every four years, the Olympic Games. They should have built on it a little bit more and put at least one or two weights into the WSB as well.”
Major tournaments taking place in Western Europe would have been high profile events. But the key upcoming tournaments will take place in central Asia. The women’s Worlds in two years time will be in Kazakhstan, the European Games take place next year in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“These World championships are in this nice place, Jeju, but they’re always in these Asian countries. We never get any of them in Europe. If it’s in Europe, it’s in the likes of Russia somewhere. We do need some of these major championships. It has been disappointing and now with the Europeans and the Worlds being in the same year – next year they’ve really got nothing except these European Games. One year you’re doing nothing, then the next year you’re going to Europeans and Worlds and everything. When it comes to the Olympics [in 2016], you’ve got the Europeans, Worlds and two qualifiers and the Olympic Games,” Peter said. “The same before London , the qualifiers were only nine weeks before London for the girls. It’s not really so well thought out.”
AIBA president Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu told Boxing News, “We’d certainly like to see these major events in Western Europe. I think when we opened the bid for the event, with the costs for accommodation in Western European countries, I think many national federations, they considered their pockets. Asia is much cheaper.
“Everything goes to bidding, less and less European countries, particularly from Western European are receiving considerable support. This basic reason is an economic reason.”
Taylor is however looking forward to boxing in this tournament. “It’s not difficult to motivate Katie. She loves it, she loves these competitions and she’s been chomping at the bit. She’s been waiting for this to start. She’ll be raging she got the bye. She’d want to be boxing from day one. That’s what she trains for,” Peter said. “She loves it. She loves even training. There’s no [lack of] motivation even in training. She just loves it. Before this she was sparring David Oliver Joyce, sparring him for an APB fight, she was doing all the sparring with David Oliver, Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes. Paddy and Michael come down from Belfast to my club just to spar with Katie. It’s good preparation for them. They do have wars between them. With David Oliver Joyce, there’s some great sparring with him. That’s the level she’s at. If we could enter Katie into the men’s all Ireland [championships], we’d enter her at 60 kilos as well because she’d give everybody a run for their money.”
In Jeju Taylor could potentially meet her Olympic final opponent, Russia’s Sofya Ochigava before the medal stages of this competition. “I think we got the tough end of the draw but she can only box one of them at a time so they’ll be more worried about being on Katie’s end than she is worried about them,” her trainer continued. “You’ve got to beat everybody if you want to win it anyway. I don’t worry too much about the draw to tell you the truth. We came over here ready to box anyone. Whoever you box it’s going to be a problem anyway. We’re happy enough with the draw.
“There’s more than Katie and Ochigava in this tournament. There’s Chantelle [Cameron] as well, the Brazilian girl, Estelle Mossley’s on the other side of the draw. The Mexican girl, the Chinese girl’s very good. So everyone’s going to be a difficult opponent at this level now anyway. It makes no difference about the seeding, we’re here to box. [That] the right people win all the fights that’s most important thing.”
Lightweight has the most entries of any division. It is one of only the three Olympic categories but as far as Peter is concerned it’s always been a demanding weight class. “If you look, the top girls that were there eight years ago are still the top girls now. They’ve risen and got better as well. Ochigava’s been there a long time,” he said. “60kgs is an average weight for a girl and it’s always the most difficult division to win… Six fights to win it. That’s what you come over for, you come over to box.
“I can’t wait for it to start, I’m really looking forward to it.”
This is the first women’s Worlds with the 10 points must scoring system. But that’s not expected to disrupt Taylor, who has taken the changes in her stride and has already won the Europeans under these rules. “Boxing’s boxing at the end of the day, she probably had the easiest Europeans she’s had in a few years winning the Europeans. Boxing’s still boxing, you hit, don’t get hit. People keep saying they’re changing their styles for it or doing this for it but boxing’s boxing at the end of the day. If she boxes to her ability, Katie can do anything – she can box long distance, close distance, middle distance. Don’t really think about it, just go out and box and hopefully she performs well,” Peter said.
“When she performs well she’s very difficult to beat.”