Former World Heavyweight Champion Barry McGuigan has described Ireland’s Katie Taylor as ‘the best women’s boxer in the world.’
It seems likely that the 10,000 strong crowd who roared her on to the Lightweight title at London 2012’s ExCel arena would agree.
Taylor, regarded as the outstanding Irish athlete of her generation, added Olympic Games gold to her four World Championships titles after a close-fought 10-8 win over Russia’s Sofya Ochigava.
Taylor – Ireland’s first Olympic Games Boxing champion since Michael Carruth at Barcelona in 1992 – said: ‘It was a huge relief. I didn’t know which the way decision had gone and I thought it might go to countback because there was a big delay.
‘It’s what I’ve always dreamed of. I’ve envisaged this moment so many times before but it’s better than all my wildest dreams to be sitting here as Olympic champion as well as world and European champion.
‘It’s a big relief to finally get the medal around my neck.’
Taylor, now 26, took up boxing at the age of 12 and was taught by her father Peter, who was 1986 Irish senior Light Heavyweight champion.
She scored her first major win in 2005, taking gold at the European Championships, where she defeated reigning world champion Tatiana Chalaya of Russia.
Two World titles followed in 2008 at the Witch Cup in Hungary and the AIBA Championships in China and an astonishing 39th consecutive victory saw her take gold the next year at the Russian Multi-nations event in St Petersburg.
Her unstoppable march towards Olympic glory continued with two further World Championship wins in 2010 and 2012, the latter seeing her defeat Ochigava .
In London she was again to outfight her Russian opponent with a technically proficient display that saw her shift from an attacking strategy early on in the bout to counter-punching in the final round to claim victory – and Ireland’s only gold medal of the Games.
Taylor, from Bray in County Wicklow, has also played senior football for her country, and been credited with an explosion in numbers of young women joining boxing clubs, both in Ireland and over the border in Northern Ireland.
After winning gold amid extraordinary scenes in the ExCel, she said: ‘We wanted everyone to see how great women’s boxing was this week, and we wanted to show off to the world, and that is exactly what we did. This is only the start for women’s boxing.’