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Published: 13:53 | 15/4/16

Taylor blow for Rio Olympics

Bray's Olympic champions loses in qualifiers

Katie Taylor's Olympic hopes suffered a setback as the 2012 gold winner winner lost to Azerbaijan's Yana Alekseevna in the semi-final of the European qualifiers for Rio de Janeiro.

The defeat, Taylor's first since 2011, means the Bray fighter must reach the semi-finals of the World Boxing Championships in Astana in May if she is to defend her 60kg lightweight medal at Rio 2016.

"I’m obviously very disappointed," Taylor said afterwards.

"I always go away to these competitions with the aim of bringing back a gold medal.

"The loss came at the wrong time for me, but at the same time she’s a great boxer and you can’t take it away from her. She deserved it today.

"I’ll come again. The difference between winning and losing is very marginal. Thank God I’ve another chance to qualify, I’m going to do everything I can to book my place in Rio."

Taylor has dominated the sport since 2005, wining five consecutive world titles, six European titles, five European Union gold medals and a European Games victory last summer.

Since the shock defeat to Bulgaria's Denitsa Eliseeva five years ago, Taylor, 29, has won a consecutive 62 fights until Friday's points defeat to Alekseevna.

Although beaten in both her previous two contests against Taylor, Alekseevna had impressed in the semi-final of the European Games in Baku last year, losing to the eventual champion only on a split decision.

Alekseevna won a 10-9 verdict on all three cards for the first round, though Taylor counter-attacked n the second to take the round 10-9 on two judges' cards.

The Azerbaijani fighter took a 10-9 win on all three cards, then edged the final round to wrap up a 39-37 success.

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