London 2012 Olympics: Jonas sets history to one side in quest for medal against Taylor
Natasha Jonas shrugged off her history-making moment in the London 2012 boxing ring at ExCeL yesterday and insisted she is fully focused on winning the fight of her life today to secure an Olympic medal.
Jonas became the first female boxing Olympian from Great Britain when she stepped through the ropes to beat American Queen Underwood 21-13 on the first day of the inaugural women’s boxing competition.
But the 28-year-old Liverpudlian is more focused on the task ahead of her today, when she must fight and beat Ireland’s four-time world champion Katie Taylor – regarded as the best female boxer in the world – to secure a medal.
Jonas said: “History and records are great but I’m here at the Olympics and I don’t want to just make up the numbers. I believe Katie and I are two of the best boxers in the world at our weight and it’s unfortunate that we have to fight so early. She’s the world champion but with a crowd like that I think I have every chance.”
Jonas believes she is a much better fighter than when the pair last met, at the Strandja Cup in Bulgaria in February 2011, when Jonas, having only recently joined the full-time programme, was beaten 6-3. Jonas added: “When I fought her I was still in awe of her reputation, which no-one can dispute. She’s a world-class boxer and a great ambassador for the sport. But I’m a different boxer to who I was two years ago. I did what I had to do to qualify and now I’ve got started at the Olympics in front of an unbelievable crowd.”
Jonas boxed cleverly against her experienced American opponent, a former world silver medallist, who hurled big right hands but frequently failed to penetrate the Liverpudlian’s tight guard. Flicking scoring jabs in response, Jonas allowed Underwood to dictate the early pace and shade the first round 4-3, but stormed back in the second to move ahead, and enjoyed a spectacular third in which she increased her lead to five points.
Jonas had her best round in the last, landing a right hand which forced Underwood to take a standing count, before leaping for joy when the verdict was announced.
The arrival of women’s boxing on the Olympic stage was deemed a big success, and Indian superstar Mary Kom took the competition by storm. The 5ft 2ins, five-time world champion from Manipur chopped down the much taller Pole Karolina Michalczuk – herself a former world champion – by 19-14. The ferocious 29-year-old Kom flung hooks at the head of her upright opponent, roared on by a sizeable Indian contingent in the 10,000-capacity crowd.
Kom was emotional afterwards as she reflected on her long journey to the Games and the fifth birthdays of her twin sons, Rengpa and Nainai. “Every athlete wants to go to an Olympic Games and for 12 years I have been waiting and waiting, asking when it will be included,” she said. “It is very special. I am crying because it is my twins’ fifth birthdays. It is emotional because I cannot be with them to celebrate their birthdays, but I am here at an Olympics, and I am fighting and winning.”
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