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After watching her spar before Rio, Andy Lee was worried Taylor had overtrained

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Andy Lee was concerned about Katie Taylor before she had even stepped on the plane to Rio.

The reigning Olympic champion crashed out of Rio in her first fight yesterday afternoon, losing in her quarter final against unfancied Finn Mira Potkonen.

Former WBO middleweight champion and Athens Olympian Lee got to have a behind the scenes look at Taylor’s preparations for the Games, and what he saw did not inspire confidence.

Lee got to witness a sparring session between the Bray lightweight and his close friend Eric Donovan last month, and the Limerick man was immediately worried that Taylor was tired and overtrained

Lee explained on Second Captains that “about two weeks before she left to go to Rio she was sparring in the Stadium with Eric Donovon, and to me she looked tired then.”

“She was training very hard and she was sparring him who is a lot heavier and obviously a male boxer, so she’d be up against it, but she just looked tired.”

Afterwards Lee tried to raise his concerns, recalling that “we were sitting around after the training session, having a conversation with everybody in the room and I was trying to hint that all the training was my biggest fear for her, that it could be her downfall.”

“To me, even then, she looked overtrained and that’s what I thought when I was watching her box.”

“When I was saying, well when I was trying to say, be careful, don’t overtrain, I could see she was trying to encourage me to say it more.”

“She was agreeing with me, but didn’t feel she have the authority or that it wasn’t her place to say ‘I want to take it easy.'”

“That was my feeling, and it was only personal, and I could be completely wrong, but that was my feeling in the room when I left there.”

Indeed Lee questioned Zaur Antia’s reasoning behind the tactics, and learnt that he was targetting specific potential opponents. Lee described how “I asked Zaur ‘why are you training her like this?,’ because a lot of the time he was making her intentionally stay up on her toes and use a lot of work with her legs and a lot feinting, which burns up so much of energy.

“He said ‘we have a special plan’ and that there was a couple of opponents, I assume he was alluding to the girls who had beaten her [Yana Alekseevna and Estelle Mossely], and this was the plan they were going to use to beat those girls, this style of boxing.”

Listen to Andy Lee’s entire conversation on Second Captains below:

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: