Shields, Adams, Torlpova and Taylor star on semi-finals day at the ExCeL
 (with additional reporting from - August 8, 2012
by Michael O'Neill

Another 11,000 ‘full house’ here at the ExCeL Centre Arena in London Docklands today for the Women’s semi-finals at the XXX Olympiad. The atmosphere once again, as for the first two days , was ‘electric’ and again those present saw some first class boxing . Most of the crowd this reporter spoke with professed to be ‘seriously impressed’ with the high quality of the action they saw and literally hundreds had simply turned up in the vain hope of finding a ticket – those were mainly ‘new’ supporters of women's boxing as a result of the action they witnessed on TV over the first two days.

Katie Taylor was again in action as was her ‘old foe’ Sofya Ochigava in the 60kg Lightweight division but first let us look at other news.

Today it was the turn of U.S Boxing’s Claressa Shields, the 17 years old from Flint to cause most excitement among non- Americans for she has not been seen in Europe before now. Clearly a ‘great find’ and star of the future should she remain in the Amateur ranks between now and Rio 2016.

As with our previous reports from the ExCeL we have already brought you comprehensive reports on the bouts involving Claressa Shields and Marlen Esparza – links here – so now we concentrate on the rest of the day’s action.

Nicola Adams vs. Chungneijang Mery Kom

Following the Esparza/Ren bout came Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte (Mary Kom) who was up against Team GB’s World Championship silver medallist Nicola Adams in the second Flyweight (51kg) semi-final. For some months now there has been a feeling in both Great Britain and in Ireland that Nikki Adams would be a serious challenger for Olympic Gold : here today she was much too strong for the great Indian . Five-time AIBA World Pinweight (46kg) Champion Mery Kom, as always, fought a gallant fight but she was at a significant height and reach disadvantage not to mention the huge support that Adams had from the home support.

Adams, at 29 has matured with age and never looked in any trouble here, hard though Mary Kom fought. The British and Irish fans were delighted to see the Indian they had read so much about in action and she was generously applauded into and out of the ring, as on Monday. The day belonged to Adams though , she won 11:6 and now faces top seeded Cancan Ren in Thursday’s final. For Mary Kom as for Canada’s Mary Spencer these Games came four years too late though of course it was not so much age but the absence of a Pinweight division that was the root cause of her failure take an Olympic title. brings us this report on the rest of the day’s action from the ExCeL.

“The loudest noise was reserved for the women’s best pound for pound boxer Katie Taylor as she battled the 19-year-old rising star from Tajikistan Mavzuna Chorieva in the first of the Lightweight (60kg) semi-finals. The Irish legend was moving well, choosing her shots wisely against an opponent who was both tough and undaunted with facing the top seed and overwhelming favourite in the competition. Taylor, who looked in scintillating form in her previous bout, continued where she left off, using that jab before throwing a quality variation of shots to take the first two rounds. The 25-year-old orthodox Irishwoman had too much in her locker for the young Chorieva as she stepped it up another gear in the final two rounds to progress in style 17:9.

Brazil’s Adriana Araujo and the second seed from Russia Sofya Ochigava then went to head-to-head to decide who would face Katie Taylor in the Lightweight (60kg) final. It began evenly with both boxers testing each other with the jab. Araujo tried to take the fight to her opponent but was met by stiff resistance and the points were shared in the first. The Russian southpaw’s quality counter-punching made the difference in the second and third as she connected with some good hooks to take a four point lead going into the final round. Full of confidence, Ochigava was fighting with her gloves down, inviting her rival in before throwing some quick one-twos as the big left made the difference - the Russian ensuring she would challenge Taylor in the gold medal contest after winning 17:11.

In the final bout of the afternoon session, Russian second seed Nadezda Torlpova met Jinzi Li of China in a contest that would see the winner then challenge Shields in the Middleweight (75kg) final. It was the Chinese orthodox 22-year-old who took the first round after the good use of the jab gave a slender point advantage. Torlpova reassessed her tactics and threw some good variation of punches in the second and third rounds to overturn the deficit. A huge left-right combination rocked Li and the Chinese boxer had to take a standing eight count and the 33-year-old two-time European Champion and 2010 World Champion from Russia confidently closed out the final stages to win 12:10.”

Three fascinating finals on Thursday to look forward to :

Will Adams or Ren become the first ever female Olympic boxing champion?

Can Taylor add Olympic Gold to those 4 World, 5 European, and 4 European Union titles or will Ochigava gain revenge for that recent loss in China?

Shields is a ‘star of the future’ without doubt but can she cope with the huge pressure on her young shoulders in an Olympic final against that wily Russian champion, Torlpova.

For the answers to those questions join us on Thursday

Our thanks to for their usual kind co-operation.

Related Story:

London 2012 Olympics: pioneering pugilists win hearts and minds in boxing ring after long struggle for acceptance
It was shortly before five o’clock last Sunday afternoon and, in a stifling, crowded concourse in London’s ExceL Centre, Mery Kom was weeping. Link to Story 



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