July 28, 2021

By Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO (Reuters) -World middleweight boxing champion Lauren Price dominated her first bout at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, saying she was “massively” inspired by Britain’s performance in taekwondo, a sport in which she has also competed.

A favourite to take the Olympic gold, the Welsh southpaw outclassed Mongolian Myagmarjargal Munkhbat, effective with a flurry of shots and getting a solid left cross to her opponent’s head in the first round.

Price looked energised and pleased after her win by unanimous vote, flashing a smile and sparring for the cameras as she left the arena.

“It’s been annoying watching everyone box. I’m just glad to get out there,” she said on the sport’s fifth day at the Tokyo Games.

“Obviously gold is the main focus, but I’m not going to think too far ahead of myself and just enjoy it.”


Elsewhere, Filipina Nesthy Petecio was assured a medal in the featherweight division – a first for a female boxer from the Southeast Asian nation – after winning her quarter-final.

“I am so happy,” said the 29-year-old reigning world featherweight champion, tipped as a strong contender for the gold medal.

“This is my first Olympics and I have won my first medal. This tournament is proving so special to me, I am just so blessed.”

Petecio was calm and economical, picking her punches against Colombia’s Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda to win unanimously.

She will face Italian Irma Testa, who will also collect her country’s first medal in women’s boxing.

“My semi-final opponent is the world champion, so I know she will be very tough,” Testa said.

“But when you reach this far in the competition then everyone is a candidate to win.”

Also advancing to the semi-final stage were Japan’s Sena Irie and Britain’s Karriss Artingstall. Both won by a split 3-2 decision.

“I am just over the moon to have got myself on that podium,” Artingstall said.

Asked whether she thought she had beat Australia’s Skye Nicolson, she said: “I thought I had done enough. I picked up in that last round massively.

“This is a tough category… If you are not on your A game on the day then you are not getting the win, it’s as simple as that.”

Nicolson was inconsolable as she failed to fight back tears after her narrow loss.

“It’s heart-breaking,” she confessed.

“I need to take some time off now to see what happens next. But I’ll be back bigger, better and stronger next time.”

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Hugh Lawson)