Ireland’s Katie Taylor strengthened her claim to be the greatest women’s boxer of all time as she outpointed Estelle Mossely of France to claim the 18th major title of her career at the European Games in Baku.
Taylor conceded she was not at her best following a recent wrist injury but she still proved a cut above her competition as she added the inaugural lightweight gold to her Olympic crown and five world championship titles.
And team-mate Michael O’Reilly made it double boxing gold for Ireland when he shocked home favourite Xaybula Musalov to claim the middleweight title in a rousing scrap in front of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev.
Taylor’s triumph was much more expected, and now only India’s six-time world champion Mary Kom can come anywhere close to eclipsing the Bray 28-year-old’s career achievement in women’s competition.
Taylor said: “I felt a bit tired after my previous bout but I managed to pull through. My main goal is to go on to defend my Olympic title - I want to go down in history as the greatest female boxer of all time.”
While Taylor enjoyed an easier final than her wafer-thin semi-final verdict over Azerbaijan’s Yana Alekseevna on Friday, she was still tested by Mosseley and admitted the strain of the competition had left her some way short of her best.
The favourite struggled to find her range in a first round which one judge gave in favour of her opponent, but she was far more accurate with right hooks in the second, and pressed home her advantage in the second half of the contest.
Taylor added: “I felt like she was causing me a small bit of trouble. I’ve had great preparation for this competition so it wasn’t the fitness at all, but yesterday’s bout took its toll mentally and physically really.
“Sometimes you go into the ring feeling more tired than usual but you have to dig deep and pull through and I think that is the mark of a great champion.”
If Taylor’s win was to be expected the same could not be said of 22-year-old Portlaoise middleweight O’Reilly, a relative newcomer to the Irish elite programme who was not given much of a chance against World Series of Boxing finalist Musalov.
But O’Reilly caught his opponent off-guard with a furious start to claim the first round, and although he showed signs of tiring in a second which swung Musalov’s way, a rousing finale saw the unassuming O’Reilly scrape a deserved victory.