DAY 10 – AUGUST 6

IF women’s boxing needed defending it could find no more eloquent an argument than the fists of Katie Taylor and Natasha Jonas. The crowd at the ExCel should take a bow too. For the first time at London 2012 a group emerged that was even louder than the British boxing fans – Katie Taylor’s simply euphoric Irish support. The decibel level was reported as 113.7, which is technically termed as deafening.

Both boxers rose to the occasion. Katie was on Jonas, hooking punches from either arm. After a slower start Jonas, a southpaw, raised her efforts, staying with Taylor. Natasha found her jab and slung in a rear left hand. Her right hook told again.

But Katie’s technique and speed were superb, her power a factor too. Taylor’s punishing right hand speared through Jonas’ guard. It struck her jaw to stagger her. Jonas took a standing count.

Taylor masterfully sensed openings but Natasha forced the best out of the Irishwoman. The Liverpudlian’s lead hook landed and Natasha sent a cross after it. She flung a left hook into Katie’s body but Taylor drilled her with a right hand, shaking Jonas and giving her a second standing count.

The two embraced after an encounter worth the hype, 26-15 the final score in Taylor’s favour.

“I knew it was going to be such a tough contest. That’s exactly what I got. It’s always going to be difficult to get through,” said Taylor. “I knew I was going to have great support but for it to be so great, it did take me by surprise. It’s a

privilege to be here. I’ll remember this moment all my life. It’s just a dream for me to be here and thank God for a great victory today.

“I think we’re shocking the world here this week. I think people are really opening their eyes to women’s boxing this week. They can’t believe the standard, which is incredible.”

“I couldn’t have done any more. I could possibly have tried throwing the kitchen sink at her but I don’t think that would have stopped her on the day,” said Jonas. “I hope I’ve done women’s boxing proud and I hope Katie goes on to win it. I’ve come here the fittest, the leanest, the smartest boxer that I could be. She is still the best. Hopefully next Olympics in four years in Rio maybe the result will be different. Me and Katie are going to be pioneers for women’s boxing and keep doing the boxing scene proud.”

The British suffered a blow when one of their brightest medal hopes, middleweight Savannah Marshall slumped out of the tournament. No one knows how they might react when walking out in front of 10,000. The Hartlepool boxer looked ill at ease on her way to the ring, though the World champion normally would have been able to deal with the rough Kazakh Marina Volnova. This situation however was a first for Savannah, only just turned 21. The two were level after two rounds and Marshall found herself tangled up in clinches unable to get back to her boxing. She drifted to a 16-12 defeat.

The “Silent Assassin” was bitterly disappointed. Capable of so much more, she just didn’t find her form when she needed it.

GB flyweight Nicola Adams finished with a smile on her face against Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova. Nicola let her feet carry her round the ring, dancing an Ali-style shuffle to the delight of the crowd. Throughout Adams had the better of the exchanges, knocking Petrova back with a textbook right hand and finishing 16-7 ahead.

Adams provides GB with another guaranteed medal but she will have a tough semi-final against Mary Kom, with the Indian defeating Tunisia’s Maroua Rahali 15-6.

“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Nicola. “I felt really good out there. [Kom] is a good opponent, a five-time World champion. When we box I’ll just have that little bit extra.

“We weren’t sure what the atmosphere in the crowd would be like because it’s the first time women have competed, but we’ve been getting the kind of cheers as the men. That’s fantastic.”

On the Jonas-Taylor clash Nicola commented, “It was a superb fight. I reckon that should have been the final. They both deserved a medal there. Natasha, that was the best I’ve seen her box so far, so she’s done her country proud.”

With their male counterparts tumbling out of the tournament, it fell to their female boxers to save the blushes of the American side. By winning her quarter-final against Venezuela’s Karlha Magliocco 24-16, Marlen Esparza has claimed at the least a flyweight bronze for the US. In the semi-final she meets Ren Cancan, who beat Russia’s Elena Savelyeva 12-7.

USA middleweight Claressa Shields had to fight her way out of trouble against tall Swede Anna Laurell. Down two points after the first round, Shields had to turn on the power, clawing her way back into contention. She blasted a left hook into the side of Laurell’s head in the fourth round, her savage follow-up prompting a standing count for Anna. The Swede jabbed her off tentatively but lost 18-14. Shields now meets Volnova in the semi-final.

“That was my first time being in front of a huge crowd with people going for me, people going against me. I got the worst out of me now, I’ll fight better. That girl was a tough opponent, really tall. You’ve got to be a really good short fighter to beat a tall fighter,” said Claressa.

“I have a strong determination not to lose. Growing up I lost so much, I want to be winner. I can’t let nobody control my destiny but me.”

A man who appears to be taking charge of his destiny is Britain’s Anthony Ogogo. After dethroning the first seed, Ievgen Khytrov, the GB middleweight took his confidence into his quarter-final against Stefan Hartel. The German shielded a one-two from Ogogo but Anthony’s left hook found its way round. Hartel sent his jab in but Ogogo responded with one of his own. Linking three punches together, Stefan knocked the Englishman’s head up. Hartel opened up again but Anthony slammed in his right hand and a left hook, driving the German back a few steps.

Hartel had fallen behind. He needed to be more aggressive in the last. Ogogo knew it, slotting his right hook high to the head. He popped in his jab and moved off. Hartel forced Anthony to the ropes but the Briton fired back and finished the bout burying another left hook. The final score saw Ogogo ahead 15-10.

His semi-final place assures Anthony of some form of medal but he noted, “It does feel good but it’s not enough. I’ve always dreamed of becoming Olympic champion not the bronze medallist. I got a medal for the programme, for myself and for my family. I’m going to push on now.”

He added, “Everybody brings their own challenges and brings what they’re good at. He wasn’t as strong as the Ukrainian but he was very strong himself. Didn’t throw as many punches as the Ukrainian but what he did throw he threw with some venom. It was great to get a win over the old enemy, over Germany. I took a bit of pride in that as well.”

Anthony will meet Esquiva Falcao in the semi-final after the Brazilian beat Hungary’s Zoltan Harcsa 14-10. This is a grudge match for Ogogo, whose injury woes began after he lost to Falcao in the 2011 World Championships, which left Anthony in a race against time merely to be fit enough to attempt to qualify for London 2012.

Clever Uzbek Abbos Atoev will also rematch Japan’s Ryota Murata in the other 75 kgs semi-final after the former beat Vijender Singh and the latter beat Turkey’s Adem Kilicci. Both scorelines were 17-13. Murata made his name when he halted Atoev at the Worlds but the Uzbek has looked in wily form at this tournament.

At 91& kgs Zhang Zhilei advanced into the ring stony-faced. China’s 2008 Olympic silver medallist cuts an imposing figure but Great Britain’s super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua dealt with him well. They stood off one another in the first round as the Chinese southpaw tried to lure Joshua in. Zhang padded down Anthony’s jab, preventing him getting shots away but when Zhang tried to rush him, Joshua snapped in sharp left hooks.

In the second, just when Zhang found a combination to threaten Anthony, the Londoner responded ideally, smashing his right hand into his opponent’s jaw and dropping Zhilei heavily. The Chinese pulled himself back up and Joshua shrewdly resisted the urge to charge.

By the third round Zhang was behind but perhaps that touch of power from the Briton had dissuaded the visitor chasing the result too eagerly. Joshua finished 15-11 ahead.

“It knocks your confidence when you get knocked down, so I thought I had him in a position where I had him wrapped up in my web. He’s a counter-puncher, a clever fighter. That’s why there wasn’t too much action, a lot of boxing. I thought he would have come for me [in the third round]. From experience, I’m learning, I had to change and push on to him a bit more,” said Anthony.

“That medal represents the hard work and the journey. It hasn’t stopped here, it’s going to get tougher. I’m going to walk away from these Olympics a new man because the experience is unbelievable.”

In the super-heavyweight semi-final he will meet tremendously tall Kazakh Ivan Dychko, who outpointed Canada’s Simon Kean 20-6. Roberto Cammarelle’s performance dropped off from his first contest at the Olympics. The Italian found himself struggling with Morocco’s Mohammed Arjaoui, prevailing only 12-11.

Magomedrasul Medzhidov will test Cammarelle’s condition in the other 91& kgs semi-final after the Azeri slugged it out with Russia’s Magomed Omarov and won 17-14.

At lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko’s footwork left him constantly pressing Puerto Rico’s Felix Verdejo often without the requirement of throwing a punch. You get the sense the Ukrainian hasn’t let himself off the leash yet but he won well enough, 14-9.

Evaldas Petrauskas became Lithuania’s first Olympic boxing medallist when he beat Domenico Valentino 16-14 in their lightweight quarter-final. The Italian didn’t have the power to keep Petrauskas at bay. The Lithuanian set about Valentino, bombing hooks in upstairs and bursting into tears of joy when the referee raised his hand at the end.

“Since I started boxing at seven this has been my dream,” Evaldas said. “I’m pretty sure the whole of Lithuania is cheering for me.”

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