Great Britain's Nicola Adams is in the final at flyweight and that means that today she could become the first woman to win a boxing gold medal at the Olympics.
Adams climbed into the ring for yesterday's semi-final and easily beat India's Mary Kom, a fighter of brilliance who was cruelly treated when her weight division was not selected for the London Games. Kom has won five world titles but was simply giving away far too much weight yesterday.
At the final bell, Adams punched the air in anticipation of her passage to the final, and the score of 11-6 was kind to Kom and confirmed Britain's first finalist from a starting line-up of just 10 boxers.
"I have beaten Kom before but she is never easy and I had to perform in there, but that is easy with that crowd," said Adams. "This has been a stunning tournament so far for our boxing team and that crowd have played their part each and every time that we fight."
In today's final Adams starts as underdog but also the crowd favourite and in this ring, under this canopy of noise and emotion, it seems that anything is possible. In the opposite corner will be China's world champion Cancan Ren, who has beaten Adams in successive finals at the world championships but looks drained at the weight.
"I know her very well and I have beaten her before. I know that I can do it again for gold," said Adams, who at times during the last decade has been a lonely pioneer for women's boxing in Britain and has won three golds at the world championships as well as gold and silver at the European Championships.
In the fight after Adams the noise level increased when Ireland's Katie Taylor emerged for the formality of her lightweight semi-final against Tajikistan's Mavzuna Chorieva. Taylor won 17-9 to reach the final, where she will add gold to the four world and five European titles she already has.
Taylor has a devoted following and the ExCeL was glorious in support of her and Ireland's gold mission; the same people will be there today as she goes against Sofia Ochigava in the final. The Russian beat Taylor 8-1 in March 2010 in the Czech Republic in a fight with a scoreline that, it is said, was bewildering. Taylor has since beaten Ochigava and should do the same today.
Taylor has long been a sideshow attraction in professional boxing in Ireland, where her shorter contests seem to generate as much noise as the pros fighting at the supposed top of the bill. She is under tremendous pressure and no boxer here – male or female – has to fulfil quite so many media commitments after a fight.
"Don't define me by my medals, but by how I live my life," said Taylor. "I live my life right and that is what really matters. This is fantastic."
She was also the most outspoken woman in boxing last year when it looked like a mandate to wear skirts and not shorts was going to be introduced. She said at the time: "We've got morals that go above marketing."Reuse content