Katie Taylor of Ireland won the lightweight gold medal before her adoring supporters in London. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
The most popular boxer at the 2012 Olympics in London wasn't a male fighter, and wasn't even British. When Irish lightweight Katie Taylor was in the ring in the ExCel Arena, it might as well have been Dublin. Support for Taylor was enormous in all of her bouts, recalling most recently the rowdy crowds that would follow Ricky Hatton anywhere, turning any arena into Manchester.
That continued through this morning, when Taylor defeated Russia's Sofya Ochigava, 10-8, to win the lightweight gold medal in London. Taylor started slow in the bout, with Ochigava forcing her to fight on the inside, which was not Taylor's strongest area. But when Taylor picked the offense up as she trailed 4-3 into the third round, the fight changed, and the Irish star took over.
Taylor led 7-5 after the third round, and in a level third, she maintained that two-point advantage for the win and the gold medal, resulting in a deafening roar from the Irish faithful that shook the BBC cameras. Taylor and Ochigava have a lengthy history, know each other well, and though the action here wasn't the most exciting, the bout was tense and smartly-fought on each side.
Katie Taylor has long been an ambassador for women's amateur boxing. And now she is an Olympic gold medalist.
Bronze medals went to Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan and Adriana Araujo of Brazil.