Defending lightweight champion Katie Taylor has lost her Olympic crown, losing to Mira Potkonen in her opening bout in Brazil on a split decision that left Ireland head coach Zaur Antia outraged by the judges’ decision.
“She won the fight,” the Georgian conditioner insisted.
“First round, she won. The second round it was very close, could have went to both sides, it was not great, really. But the third, the fourth round… she won the fight.”
The number one seed had never lost to the Finnish veteran in their previous meetings, but the Bray woman’s aura of invincibility had diminished after her loss to Estelle Mossley of France at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan earlier this year.
With Pete Taylor, her father and long-time coach, no longer in her corner, the 30-year-old made a tentative start in an almost empty arena having received a bye into the round-of-16 encounter.
Both women connected early with straight rights. Taylor possessed the superior footwork, with Potkonen boasting the better workrate. Taylor landed a nice combination and led on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the end of the round.
Taylor’s left jab yielded dividends early in the second round, but Potkonen, who remained the more industrious of the two boxers, replied with a flurry of combination punches as Taylor’s defence was found wanting. All three judges awarded the round to the Finn.
Taylor connected early with a shuddering right hook in the third round and a left jab to Potkonen’s chin jolted the Finn. Two of the three judges awarded the penultimate round to the defending champion.
Taylor breached her opponent’s defence with a straight right early in the final round, but Potkonen maintained her composure and Taylor’s finishing effort was strangely tentative considering her perilous position.
Potkonen ultimately prevailed on a split decision, with the the Vietnamese judge awarding the bout to the Finn on a 39-37 scoreline. The Ecuadorian adjudicator scored the fight 38-38, with Potkonen getting the final nod, while the Ukrainian judge favoured Taylor on a 39-37 scoreline.
Potkonen is now guaranteed at least a bronze medal.
“I thought I had the fight won, but it was a close fight, and congratulations to her,” said Taylor. “But I should be really beating those girls.”
Many feel Potkonen was rewarded for a more industrious approach to the fight, but Antia was incredulous when the result came through, adamant that two of the judges had erred with their scorecards.
“Boxing is hit and don’t get hit,” he added.
“Katie hit more – two times more than she got back.
“What else can she do?