Irish raise the roof in tribute to fighting lass

PHIL LUTTON
Last updated 05:09 11/08/2012
Katie Taylor
Getty Images
PRIDE OF THE IRISH: Katie Taylor reacts after winning gold.

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Picture the way New Zealand ground to a halt before the World Cup final. Now you're starting to get close to what Katie Taylor's historic boxing gold medal means to Ireland.

Taylor came to the Olympics with the sole mission of winning the Emerald Isle's first gold since 1996, when Michelle Smith cleaned up in the pool before people started wondering if she was clean herself.

With 8000 ludicrously impassioned fans turning the Olympic boxing hall into a deafening Little Dublin, the 10-8 victory over fierce rival Sofya Ochigava from Russia was gutsy and patiently executed.

"The support has been incredible. It's been like a home Games. There was more Irish people there than English. It's a dream come true for me," Taylor said.

Taylor's dominance this week has earned her the tag of the women's equivalent of Floyd Mayweather Jnr; the best pound-for-pound female fighter on the planet.

But Ochigava wasn't going to roll over for the sake of Ireland's fairy tale. It was close enough that Ochigava thought she'd won the fight. When Taylor's name was called out, the crowd screamed.

"This is what I've always dreamed of. I'm sitting here now as Olympic champion and European and World Champion," said Taylor.

Her father and coach Pete wasn't as nervous about the result. "It was her destiny to win Olympic gold," he said. It's that simple.

Women's boxing was on trial at these Games in its Olympic debut. With just three weight divisions, it came in for criticism in the early fights as size differences made for nasty mismatches.

Taylor's brilliant technical work, wonderful hand speed, sharp eye and dancing feet ended the argument. Great Britain (Nicola Adams) and the US (Claressa Shields) also won gold but it was Taylor who has emerged as the perfect face to take the sport to the next level.

The boxing world has been so impressed with the fighting Irish lass that luminaries like Lennox Lewis and Amir Khan are saying she could beat the men at 60kg. FAIRFAX MEDIA

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