Hero of all Irish sports-lovers, the one and only Katie Taylor will be defending her world title this evening in Barbados.
But guess what? You can actually watch it! There are a couple of caveats here though. It’s streaming live on RTE so it’s a bit jumpy and pixelated. RTE obviously didn’t go out of their way but we’ve been moaning about the lack of coverage for so long now, that I’ll take anything.
Once you get used to it though, it’s fun. The commentators are Caribbean boxing heroes who are hilarious. One of them doesn’t suffer fools gladly, it has to be said, complaining in the world’s coolest accent about boxers dancing instead of fighting. When the boxing is good, though, they are beside themselves; everything is either “beautiful” or “amazing”, although it’s sometimes hard to make out as they shout so loud in their glee.
Both are amateur male boxing mentors, so don’t know much about the female version. There is none of the embarrassing comments about female boxers that we have come to dread, though. These guys know their stuff when it comes to the sport and the technical aspects involved. They are just loving the skill on display.
When Katie was fighting in the semi-finals night, they were beside themselves gushing about her ability. It was refreshing to hear non-Irish experts tell us just how good she is.
She barely made it through, though. Last night she was up against America’s Queen Underwood, a tough customer who Katie has beaten well every time they’ve fought. Not last night. After a 6-0 first round to Katie, it looked like same-old-same-old. She was double-figures ahead in the second. When Underwood came out of the corner for the third round, she must have been told that her pride was on the line. She started at 100mph and pummeled Katie. Our girl looked well-shook after taking a couple of hard blows to the head and was, literally, hanging on at the end of the round.
She lost four much-needed points after being reprimanded for holding on to Underwood for dear life. When the fourth, and final, round started she looked finished. However, her dead-eye accuracy got her through; she threw two punches, earning the two winning points. When the bell went, Katie looked dodgy on her feet. I don’t know whether it was exhaustion or those hits to the head but she well and truly got a scare.
It was the best fight of the night, the level of skill just head and shoulders above everything else on offer. On to the final and a lot depends on how Katie is physically after such a bruiser.
She fights China’s Cheng Dong who is not the boxer Underwood is, so she should win. Having said that, Dong is a tall south-paw with a long reach so it won’t be easy. Dong will also be aware of how close Underwood came and what tactics she used. All in all, tonight’s should be a fascinating final.
You can watch it streaming here.
All of the finals start at 7pm, but if you only want to see Katie fight, she should be on between 8 and 8.30pm.
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