Irish boxing star Taylor stunned in lightweight bout

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Katie Taylor trudged out of the ring with a white towel around her neck, and needed time to compose herself and find the right words for her stunning exit.

The star of the London Games, the Irish fighter's Olympics lasted just one bout.

Taylor's rugged 2016 hit bottom on the brightest stage.

The top-ranked lightweight lost for the third time this year, with the latest one ending her bid at a repeat gold medal bid. Taylor, perhaps the most popular athlete in the country, was upset on Monday by Finland's Mira Potkonen via split decision in a lightweight bout.

Taylor had already lost in a Rio qualification event and again at the World Championships.

''A very challenging year, suffering so many losses,'' she said. ''I'm sick of losing at this stage this year. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, really. I really felt like I was prepared for every opponent here this week.''

The 30-year-old Taylor buried her face in a towel as she left the ring, then fought back tears talking to reporters.

She could not have imagined this scene in London.

Taylor collapsed to her knees after winning the ninth gold medal in Ireland's Olympic history, and wrapped a green, white and orange flag around her shoulders. She later took a slow walk through the overjoyed masses. Taylor was named the Olympics' best women's boxer. She went unbeaten for five years.

Potkonen rocked Taylor in the second and won the round. With the fighter on the brink of an upset, the Finnish coaches were going wild at ringside and were nearly as entertaining as the fight.

Irish fighter Paddy Barnes, a two-time Olympic boxing medalist who also lost in Rio, criticized the judges on Twitter. He wrote, ''there was no point watching'' and the ''judges are terrible.''

Taylor, the flag bearer for Ireland at the 2012 London Games, took the high road in her first career loss to Potkonen.

''I thought I had the fight won, but it was a close fight, and congratulations to her,'' she said. ''But I should be really beating those girls.''

One of Taylor's pre-Olympics defeats was to French fighter Estelle Mossely, who fights later Monday and has emerged as the division's gold favorite.

The 35-year-old Potkonen, who had advanced to the semifinal of this year's World Championships, said she was scared in the ring waiting for the decision.

''I've lost so many times to her, so this is great,'' she said.

Taylor's loss continued an awful Olympics in the ring for Ireland. Michael Conlan is the last Irish fighter left from the eight who made the team. He fights Tuesday.

All three gold medal winners from the inaugural women's boxing tournament in London were back to attempt to defend their titles. Taylor, Britain's Nicola Adams, and American middleweight Claressa Shields all stuck with their sport, which has grown rapidly in prominence and quality since women's boxing was added to the Olympic program.

The Olympics will go on without Taylor.

''I really feel like I should be winning those fights a lot easier,'' Taylor said. ''It just didn't happen tonight, and I'm not sure what the problem is yet.''

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