Steve Bunce on Boxing: Fighting chance for Britain's Olympic women


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The Independent Online

There will be three weights for the girls at the Olympic boxing in London next summer and Britain has a chance at all three. Ireland, meanwhile, looks nailed on with Katie Taylor, who won her fifth consecutive European title at the weekend in Rotterdam.

Nicola Adams, from Leeds, won gold at flyweight, which is thankfully one of the three chosen Olympic weights, and there was a bronze for Savannah Marshall at middleweight, another of the Olympic weights. There was no medal glory for Chantelle Cameron at lightweight who lost in the opening series to Russia's former world champion Sofya Ochigava. Taylor beat Ochigava in the final.

Cameron has a natural rival in Liverpool's Natasha Jonas, who won a bronze in Rotterdam but up at light-welterweight, which is not one of the Olympic weights for women. Jonas had been the lightweight No 1 for over a year. The pair will inevitably have to be separated at some point between now and the World championships in China next May, which act as the sole qualification tournament for London.

In another non-Olympic weight England's Lisa Whitehead won silver at feather. It's a pity only three weights for women were accepted by the Olympic movement. They deserved better and a tiny reduction in the numbers on various team sports would've created extra spaces for more boxing weights.


Warrior Choi has the odd fan

His fans wear the skins of slaughtered deer as robes, cry during the national anthem and honour his every punch. This weekend at London's York Hall the Mongolian fans will be out to cheer on "Choi", their ancient but beloved warrior, when he attempts to win Prize-fighter. He writes songs for each of his opponents and belts them out on a karaoke machine to get in the mood. In Mongolia he rides a horse and hunts with a brand new bow. He is one of the sport's oddest souls and a joy to watch.


Online critics are over the top

Last Friday at York Hall the British cruiserweight title changed hands after a bad-tempered and ugly brawl. Rob Norton, who nobody has ever really wanted to fight or liked to watch, lost a split decision to local idol Leon Williams. The fans at the venue made the fight with their passion.

At the end of 12 rounds Williams, a game learner, left the ring with the title. The decision divided fans at the venue and inside the increasingly powerful online boxing community. There were screams of outrage and crazy accusations, often inspired by a midnight skinful. One or two people made some unpleasant comments about my appearance as part of the broadcast team on BoxNation. I thought that Norton had done enough to keep his title and said so.

One of the judges was London cabbie Richie Davies, who voted in favour of Williams by a few rounds. I've known Richie for a long, long time and it's not the first, and it will not be the last, time we disagree. But the mauling he's received over this fight has been well over the top.

Richie might want to take a bit of comfort from the wise words of the stubborn and often harsh referee Harry Gibbs, who operated as a feared enforcer in the Seventies. Gibbs would just shrug whenever he heard a criticism, and there were plenty. He would ponder the insult and invariably answer: "They can stick their complaints right up their arse." Thanks for that, Harry.