Sunday 18 March 2018

INSIDE RIGHT: Courageous Katie shows champion quality

'INSIDERIGHT' has spent an awful lot of time looking at women lately. Now before you think this columnist is some sort of leering, loathsome leech, yours truly is not talking in the smutty sense, the wife will be glad to hear. No it's in the world of sport that the cailíní of this country have come to the fore of 'Inside Right's' attention of late.

The fascination with our sporting ladies began the weekend before last with Wexford's marvellous win in the All-Ireland camogie final, followed by keeping up to date with the exploits of the Irish under-17 soccer team as they reached the quarterfinals in Trinidad and Tobago but the pièce de résistance came with the performance of the lion-hearted Katie Taylor in retaining her world boxing crown in Barbados.

Taylor comfortably overcame Chinese fighter Cheng Dong 18-5 in a repeat of the 2008 decider buts it's for her gutsy 18-16 victory over Queen Underwood of the USA in the semi-final that she deserves the real plaudits.

'Inside Right' watched Taylor's Rocky-esque style win over the hard-hitting American Queen Underwood through bleary eyes, fighting back the muchneeded sleep thanks to another special lady, my seven-month-old daughter.

According to the RTE website the semi-final fight was scheduled for sometime between 10 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. and considering it was after 11 by the time Katie stepped into the ring, yours truly got his fill of women's boxing, after being glued to the laptop for over an hour. the more exciting - the speed, agility and power shown by the two combatants was in an entirely different league to what had gone before.

How you react in adversity is the sign of a real champion. Anybody who has watched the Bray boxer in action would be used to seeing her delivering devastating displays with accurate punching and quick movement but in Friday's semi-final she really had to dig deep as the contest descended into a brawl in the final round.

Having been seemingly cruising into the final, leading 6-0 after the first two-minute round and 102 after the second, Underwood sprang to life in the third, reducing the deficit to 13-8.

Taylor then looked in real trouble against the powerful American, who knew that a knockout was her best chance of dethroning her more illustrious opponent and when she incredibly clawed it back to 16-16 in the last round the momentum seemed to have swung in her favour.

However, somehow Taylor kept her composure and pulled it out of the fire, connecting with two sweet punches to reach the final in the most dramatic of fashions.

It's a shame RTE couldn't find it within themselves to show the semi-final and finals live on TV, instead of having to endure some crazy caribbean commentators, who didn't seem to have any idea who Katie Taylor is, never mind knowledge of her prowess in the ring.

Of course the next big crusade for Katie Taylor is to fulfil her long-held dream and win gold in the Olympics in London in 2012.

You can be pretty sure that then everybody will be watching.