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Matchroom Boxing Katie Taylor celebrates a piece of Irish boxing history with her team.
# Nearly there
Taylor overcomes career-toughest test and batters Volante to win third world title
After a thrilling encounter, Taylor is now the IBF, WBA and WBO World lightweight champion.

Gavan Casey reports from Liacouras Center, Philadelphia

KATIE TAYLOR has become the first-ever Irish fighter in the four-belt era to hold three major titles simultaneously after stopping Rose Volante in the ninth round of a career-toughest test in Philadelphia.

In a gruelling affair, Taylor took her fair share of punishment — particularly early doors — before turning the screw and battering the teak-tough ‘Queen Rose’ into submission.

Volante, who during Thursday’s staredown warned Taylor, ‘I’m here’, wasn’t lying. She played her part in a thrilling exhibition of boxing before being spared by referee Benjy Estevez after nine rounds of physical torture, her face bloodied and bruised by the scintillating Irish icon.

Katie Taylor celebrates Tom Hogan / INPHO Taylor celebrates her stoppage victory in Philly. Tom Hogan / INPHO / INPHO

Taylor entered the ring to a mash-up of James Brown’s ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ and U2′s ‘Vertigo’, and would later inflict upon Volante a sensation of spinning dizziness as well as a first career defeat.

But it was Volante who began with the intention of delivering some pain, marching Taylor backwards and landing a couple of noteworthy overhand rights.

Taylor then buzzed the Brazilian with a right of her own before detonating her first proper combination and catching Volante on the top of her head with the left forearm, decking the 36-year-old with about a minute to go in the first.

Volante, though, beat the count handily and saw out the round with minimal fuss.

They exchanged big right hands to start the second, Volante’s the more thudding and budging Taylor backwards.

Taylor controlled most of the sophomore stanza with better head movement and timing, but drew gasps from a partisan crowd seconds before the bell as she lost her footing slightly and took three to the midriff for her troubles.

Katie Taylor in action against Rose Volante Tom Hogan / INPHO Volante lands a thudding right hand. Tom Hogan / INPHO / INPHO

The Irish champion was more tentative in the third, moving with caution — mostly backwards — and getting off a nice left hook in the clinch as a riposte to fleeting Volante success.

Volante was a menace on the counter throughout and kept her chin tucked behind a tight guard.

Taylor had to get creative in order to find skin. She did, loosening up slightly in the middle rounds and finding a home for two- and three- punch combos.

Katie Taylor in action against Rose Volante Tom Hogan / INPHO The Irishwoman turned the screw on Volante after the middle rounds. Tom Hogan / INPHO / INPHO

Volante remained dangerous but Taylor stepped on the gas in the fifth, ripping the older woman to the body. Volante winced in pain on more than one occasion as Taylor’s left hook landed bullet-like below her rib cage, forcing the WBO champion’s right hand downwards in an instinctive bid to protect her side.

Taylor, by this stage sitting down on her punches and firing off with venom, then moved upstairs and landed a series of crisp shots, forcing the heavy-breathing Sao Paulo resident to dig deep.

Taylor eased off in quieter sixth and seventh rounds, pot-shotting those into the bank.

She exploded into action to start the eighth, however, tearing into her foe with a searing seven- or eight-shot fusillade to both decks. Volante was on the brink but stood tough, gasping for air but crucially grasping Taylor in a round-saving clinch.

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Taylor again brought the hurt at the tail-end of that verse, walking the tired South American down with a four-punch assault to the head. She had seen off Volante’s best efforts and had found her own groove.

Volante, meanwhile, was beginning to throw the odd glance towards her corner, perhaps hinting that they might do her a favour.

Katie Taylor in action against Rose Volante Tom Hogan / INPHO Taylor began to blast the brave Brazilian in the final few rounds. Tom Hogan / INPHO / INPHO

The stoppage was taken out of their hands soon afterwards, in the ninth. It was sudden, and Volante was probably in no more trouble than she had been a round previously, but her face was in bits. Despondent, she turned away from the action and neither she nor her corner complained when referee Benjy Esteves came to her aid.

Volante slumped onto her stool, destroyed. Taylor stood proudly at centre-ring, thumping her chest and roaring to a crowd which rose to meet her.

As the Bray woman was confirmed by MC Michael Buffer as still the holder of the IBF and WBA titles, and the new owner of the WBO strap, Volante burst into tears, hugging each member of her four-man corner for a prolonged spell each.

For the now-former champion, a worthy opponent, it’s back to the drawing board. On tonight’s evidence, she’ll win more world-title fights than she loses.

For the history-making Taylor, it’s onwards and upwards towards a clash with WBC queen Delfine Persoon for the undisputed lightweight world title, likely at Madison Square Garden, New York, on 1 June.

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