KATIE TAYLOR WAS too hot to handle as she booked her place in the quarter-finals of the AIBA World Boxing Championships this morning.
The three-time world champion led from the opening bell in her last 16 lightweight bout against Saida Khassenova of Kazakhstan before forcing the referee to stop the contest in the final round.
The result leaves Taylor three wins from a fourth successive world crown. But with six European fighters through to the last eight and only three places available to the continent at 60kg, she could need two more wins and a place in the final before she is guaranteed her spot at London 2012.
Fighting out of the red corner, the Bray native started strongly and led 8-3 at the end of the first round. But Khassenova put up a spirited challenge in the second, and Taylor had to box clever to stretch her advantage to 13-6 at the half-way point.
A convincing third round sealed the fight and gave her a 12-point cushion, 20-8, heading into the final round which was waved off with 19 seconds remaining.
“She was a very tricky opponent,” Taylor told Paul McDermott of the Irish Sports Council afterwards.
She was very good quality really and I had to be aware all the time. It was such a tough fight, I’m delighted to get through to the next round. Thank God I got through.
The first minute of the fight I was trying to just work her out with a lot of feints and a lot of left hands, just to try and look at her for a minute or so. The tactics that I got for her were perfect as usual.
Up next for Taylor is Romania’s Mihaela Lacatus, a former world champion herself. Lacatus beat world number eight Denitsa Eliseeva of Bulgaria 17-14 this morning.
Earlier, Ceire Smith’s Olympic dream came to an end in her last 16 bout against former world champion Karolina Michalczuk of Poland.
The Cavan flyweight struggled from the outset before the referee stopped the contest in the third round.