Winning return for Katie Taylor

  • Last Updated: February 22 2013, 23:01 GMT

Olympic champion Katie Taylor marked her return to action for the first time since her gold medal triumph last August with a 28-5 win over Poland's Karolina Graczyk at the National Stadium in Dublin.

Katie Taylor: Winning return to the ring

Taylor received a raucous reception at the purpose-built boxing arena which was filled to capacity on a night on which 15 national men's and women's champions were also crowned.

It was the kind of low-key comeback favoured by Taylor, who has admitted struggling with the fame foisted upon her since she underlined her status as her nation's favourite sports star with victory in London.

And while the atmosphere was never going to match the ear-splitting roar that greeted her final triumph over Russia's Sofya Ochigava, there was a real buzz in the venue as Taylor set about her work with characteristic aplomb.

Although Graczyk was not chosen to give Taylor too stern a test in her comeback bout - Taylor had comprehensively outpointed her in the EU Championships in 2011 - she was an experienced enough opponent to hold her own.

Taylor was caught by a couple of counters in the second round but soon found her range with her clubbing left hand, and seemed to relish the chance to work off the rust that had gathered from her six months out of the ring.

Another booming left at the start of the third prompted the referee's intervention to issue Graczyk a standing eight count, and Taylor's relentless accuracy and range of shots soon had the referee interrupting again.

The Pole's sparse shots seemed almost feeble in response, with every Taylor strike jolting her opponent back, and Graczyk did admirably well to make it all the way to the final bell.

It was the start of a busy weekend for Taylor, who is scheduled to fight again in Dublin on Sunday as she builds up to her competitive return, which is likely to come at the EU Championships in Hungary in June.

Taylor said: "The fans have been incredible for me over these last few years so it's great to fight in front of them. She was a quality opponent and it was good to get back in the ring."

Earlier, Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan claimed his third straight national title at flyweight, easing away for a comprehensive 20-9 win over Chris Phelan.

Conlan, who was beaten by Welsh rival Andrew Selby in a storming fight in the World Series of Boxing last month, is looking forward to increasing his schedule this year.

Conlan said: "It's just getting started for me this year and I've got a lot of big things ahead. I've had some great sparring in Belfast and I just want to keep up with my good form."

Beijing silver medallist Ken Egan announced his retirement after suffering his third straight finals defeat to Joe Ward at light-heavyweight, taking a standing count en route to a 25-5 defeat.

The 31-year-old Egan was bidding to become the first man to win 11 Irish senior titles and brought everything, but was simply outgunned by the sustained ferocity of an opponent 13 years his junior.

A clattering combination set up an assault which wobbled Egan in the second and, although the veteran recovered admirably, Ward kept swinging in the big scoring shots until the final bell.

Afterwards, Egan announced his retirement from the sport to a standing ovation, saying: "I'm retiring tonight in the ring. Joe is a big, strong lad and I'm glad I'm handing the mantle over to him."


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