Irish star Taylor superb on Olympic boxing debut
Ireland's Katie Taylor lived up to the pre-Olympic hype by producing a stunning performance to defeat Britain's Natasha Jonas 26-15 on her Games debut to guarantee Ireland a second boxing medal at London 2012.
The four-time world champion from Bray, Co. Wicklow was roared on to victory by thousands of Irish fans in the ExCel Arena and with Jonas getting the backing of the home fans, it led to a superb atmosphere that was more akin to a football match.
Both women came to fight and Liverpool's Jonas also put up an impressive display, but it was the incredible speed of Taylor, both with her hands and feet, that ultimately proved the difference.
The fight was tight for two of the four two-minute rounds, but Taylor really started to find her range in a blistering third round and the referee gave Jonas a standing count after a particularly heavy barrage of punches.
After three rounds Taylor had a 19-11 lead and her father and coach Peter advised her to stay cautious in the final round.
She did for the opening moments but with Jonas having some joy, Taylor decided to get aggressive again and forced another standing count before the end.
Taylor is the top seed and favourite to win gold in the lightweight class. Such is her status in her home country that she was chosen as Ireland's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.
Taylor's win comes a day after John Joe Nevin from Co. Westmeath guaranteed Ireland their first medal of the Games by moving into the semi-finals of the men's bantamweight division.
Hosts Britain also ensured themselves a medal in women's boxing after world silver medallist Nicola Adams dispatched Bulgaria's Stoyka Petrova 16-7 in impressive fashion in the women's flyweight division.
The Leeds flyweight will now go on to face India’s Chungneijang Mery Kom and is expecting a tough fight as she tries to give herself chance of gold.
“I have got the bronze medal in my back pocket and I just want a nicer colour now,” said the 29-year-old. "It's a great feeling. I just felt really good out there and I'd like to thank all the supporters, my friends and family.
"Mery is a good opponent. She is five-time world champion and you have to be special to do that. I am hoping when we box that I'll have that bit extra.
"Win or lose I have come to perform and enjoy the moment and that's what I did.
“I had to get an Ali shuffle in there – it had to be done. I have watched so many of his videos I thought I'd sneak a cheeky one in."
After a cagey start, Adams took an early lead of 2-1, after landing some quick combinations.
She stretched her lead at the end of the second round – using her vast experience and lightning counter-punching to dominate her opponent.
Adams was ruthless in her use of body punches as she stretched a third-round lead to 11-5 before a strong final round confirmed the win.
Great Britain’s first ever world champion Savannah Marshall suffered a surprising defeat to Marina Volnova of Kazakhstan in her opening middleweight round at the ExCel.
The first two rounds were neck and neck, with the judges scoring it 7-7.
But a poor third round left Marshall struggling 10-8 behind, and, despite a strong showing in the final round, she suffered a shock 16-12 defeat.
The 21-year-old apologised for her performance and paid tribute to opponent.
She said: "I am very disappointed to go out of the Olympics at the first hurdle – I didn't box to my full potential this afternoon.
“I have to credit my opponent from Kazakhstan who made it very difficult for me to box her and fight my normal fight.
"I have got no excuses. All I can do is say sorry to all the coaches and support staff who have done everything they can to get me here."