World & European Lightweight champion, Katie Taylor today suffered a surprise ‘defeat’ in the final of the Strandja Cup in Pazardjik ‘losing’ 5-1 to Bulgaria’s Denitza Eliseeva.
The score line surprised even some of the most fanatical Bulgarian fans. It certainly came as something of a shock to the Irish team management not to mention Katie Taylor and her Coach/Dad, Peter.
To better understand the events of this week in the Strandja Cup let us hear from leading Norwegian boxer, Ingrid Egner, commenting on her own loss to Ms Eliseev in the semi-final, on her website ingridegner.com
“I started out working in and out like I usually do and landed some nice body shots. She tried to attach but she was to slow and I just moved. After the first round the score was 0-0. It’s hard to get points here with this scoring system so even though I knew I should have had some points I was calm and (coach) Martin instructed me just to keep on working like I did.
In the second round I really worked it. It was a one-man show and I felt like I was working the bag. I landed a lot of good shots and she didn’t touch me. Came in to the corner and I said to Martin; this is fun. The score was still 0-0. I was thinking is this a joke?
In the third round I continued thinking I must soon get a single point (or are these East European judges blind? ). And then she got a point. Score after the 3rd round 1-0. I said to Martin “I’m losing. I cannot get any points”, he just smiled and said I should have been up at least 15 points and he told me to punch from start to end in the fourth and last round. And so I did and she looked f* hurt. Anyway, I lost the match 1-0. I felt the whole thing was a joke so I raised my arm smiling, showing a V with my fingers and the crow shared”.
After the match she came up to me, like telling she’s sorry. It’s not her fault. In these situations you cannot blame the boxers.” Several other western European boxers at the tournament also commented unfavourably on the scoring, as judged. Can they all be wrong?
What did the Taylors think of today’s result? According to the I.A.B.A official website : “.Taylor’s coach and dad Peter Taylor said that Taylor junior was devastated by the decision,adding that the Irish woman dominated the final and should have won by 20 points “.
There has long been serious criticism from Western boxers and coaches of perceived bias in favour of the locals when non-Championship events take place in Eastern Europe. Without seeing a video of the fight, it is difficult, indeed impossible to say with certainty that the scoring here was biased. True Eliseeva did win all three of her fights before today on 1-0 scores and in all 3 cases the opponents complained about the judging.
Nonetheless the E.U.B.C which controls boxing in Europe did have an ‘ official observer’ in Strandja and at very least the world Governing body A.I.B.A should be discussing this subject with the E.U.B.C in the days ahead and see what lessons, if any need to be learnt.
For Katie Taylor this is an inconsequential loss in a minor event. It is though baffling to say the least to understand how Eliseeva managed to turn round her two most recent losses against Taylor – when there were neutral judges – so comprehensively. In 2009 in Pazardjik she lost 8 – 1 to Taylor whilst in Hungary in 2010 the margin had reached 16 – 1 in the Irish woman’s favour.Both ere major European competitions.
When so many boxers and their managers have been commenting unfavourably it is surely time for the boxing authorities to examine the underlying issues and if need be take action to remedy the situation. The biggest losers in all this will be (1) the Bulgarians (2) their individual boxers and (3) the sport of boxing. EUBC and AIBA must now see if it is not sensible to have ‘neutral judges’ for all officially licensed competitions and if this means extra costs so be it!
Congratulations though to Denitza Eliseeva on her winning the Strandja Cup gold – she is a very genuine competitor and as Ingrid Egner says she even went to the extent of apologising for the semi-final outcome. One feels sure that there is further comment to come on the events of today in the days that follow.