Professional boxers in for Rio eye-opener - Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor helped launch the official Irish Olympic kit on Tuesday along with Arthur Lannigan O'Keefe (left) and Mick Clohisey (right) at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin
Picture by PA 
Ed Carty

OLYMPIC champion Katie Taylor has warned professionals to expect a few eye-openers if they take up the contentious option to fight at this summer's Rio Olympics.

Ireland's London 2012 gold medalist branded the decision by the sport's international governing body AIBA to let professionals compete as "ridiculous": "I don't think it's the right thing to do," Taylor said.

"It's ridiculous having the pros in an amateur sport but, at the same time, there's a lot of pros who are going to struggle over three rounds. It's going to be an eye-opener for a lot of the general public who think the pros are going to destroy the amateurs. And some of the comments over the last few weeks and months have been very insulting to amateur boxers and I think it will be an eye-opener for a lot of people."

AIBA confirmed its move to allow professionals in Rio last week and, while no wild-cards are expected, they will be eligible to pursue a place at the final qualification event in Venezuela in July. Despite a number of expressions of interest, including from the likes of Wladimir Klitschko and Amir Khan, few truly big names are expected to put their paid careers on hold to pursue a place in Rio. The professionals will also have to contend with their sparse experience in the quick-fire rounds of the amateur sport and the alien quantity of several fights in as little as 10 days.

Taylor faces a battle to defend her women's 60kg title in Rio after suffering two surprise losses in quick succession this year. But she insisted she will learn from those rare defeats and counts these as blessings in disguise.

"I'm not to concerned about it," she added.

"It's not as if I was getting out-boxed in those two losses and, also, I really feel that I won the two fights I lost. They were very, very close fights. You can't really argue with this decision, but it's not as if I was making any big mistakes."

Taylor put the losses down to dropping as little as one or two per cent in conditioning and vowed to improve: "After each loss, I always come back a better, stronger fighter. Those two losses are going to be no different," she said.

"The first loss I had this year in Turkey, I came back a better boxer in these world championships and the loss in the world championships, I will come back a better, stronger fighter in the Olympics. I think in the long run, it's going to be a good thing really, a blessing in disguise."

Taylor also said she has no plans to change her style for the upcoming Games and is as comfortable taking the fight to her opponents as she is stepping back and picking them off: "I think probably, my best asset, would probably be my all round game. I can definitely box on the front foot as well as the back foot. I don't think that's really an issue."

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