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Dublin: 12°C Saturday 19 September 2020

'Eventually, I'll shut them up. I'm going to have a chance to shut them all up'

Katie Taylor had a warning for Amanda Serrano and Delfine Persoon after becoming a two-weight world champion.

An emotional Katie Taylor soaks in the adulation during her post-fight interview with Sky Sports.
An emotional Katie Taylor soaks in the adulation during her post-fight interview with Sky Sports.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

THREE YEARS AGO, a tearful Katie Taylor fronted up to the RTÉ cameras but struggled to find the words to describe her pain at having been eliminated from the Rio Olympics at the quarter-final stage.

At Manchester Arena on Saturday night, there were tears and a speechlessness of a different sort, Taylor halted mid-sentence by the guttural acclaim of the 9,000 or so fans moments after she had been crowned a two-weight world champion in boxing’s punch-for-pay ranks.

In truth, a shake of her head and a glance towards her team said enough. It had been a special night. It has been a special three years. And Taylor remains a special sporting figure, whose fights are increasingly beginning to feel like special occasions from ringside. A lot of cities are beginning to feel like Dublin.

katie-taylor-emotional-after-winning-the-wbo-world-super-lightweight-championship Taylor succumbed to tears such was the acclaim with which she was received following her unanimous-decision victory. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“This is incredible,” Taylor said when she sat down for a press conference in the bowels of the venue in the wee hours.

I was getting very emotional in the ring because that’s what it meant to me. I’m so overwhelmed by the support there tonight.

“To be a two-weight world champion, a multi-weight world champion is what every fighter dreams of,” Taylor added. “I became an undisputed world champion a few months ago and now here I am as a two-weight world champion. It just keeps getting better and better.”

Her manager, Brian Peters, quipped that for the first time, even Eddie Hearn was speechless as he soaked in the adulation for a boxer who has become one of the crown jewels in his Matchroom Boxing stable.

Hearn admitted to have been a touch overwhelmed himself, saying he teased Taylor for producing waterworks for the Sky cameras as a means of keeping himself in check. “I’m not that good an actress!”, she laughed.

Added Taylor’s promoter: “We’ve been building for this for a long time. I remember when she had her debut in Wembley and we had a couple hundred Irish up there. Tonight, I know [Anthony] Crolla sold a lot of tickets and it was in his hometown but there was a lot of Irish in there. A lot of Irish.

The great thing about the support for Katie is that we know in Ireland she’ll always be a legend and they will always back her. But everybody else is now. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Manchester or London or New York or Boston or Philadelphia. All these places.

“Look back at what she has achieved in such a short space of time,” Hearn added. “Not just the undisputed lightweight world champion, not just the WBO light-welterweight world champion but everywhere she has been. Everywhere she has boxed. All the ground she has broken.”

katie-taylor-in-action-with-christina-linardatou Taylor and Linardatou exchange. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Both Hearn and Taylor were struck by the sheer number of women in attendance at Manchester Arena, the Matchroom chief claiming he had never seen so many at a boxing event. Taylor, when asked for surely the thousandth time what advice she would give to the hundreds of young girls in her audience who may wish to one day emulate her in the ring, replied: [I'd] just say, ‘Give it everything you have. Train as hard as you can. Make sure you do more than your opponent. Do not cut any corners. Nothing is impossible when you work hard for it.’

And she was made to work plenty hard by Christina Linardatou as was evident as she sat in front of the assembled media, her right eyebrow resembling a golf ball. The Dominican-born Greek champion had dished out her fair share of hurt and indeed cried foul at the result when she addressed the press in her own impromptu sit-down, but the judges’ scores of 97-93 and 96-94 were about bang-on.

Thankfully for those who dote over the Bray woman, it wasn’t quite another all-out war like Taylor’s controversial majority-decision victory over Delfine Persoon to become undisputed lightweight champion at Madison Square Garden in June. Because she didn’t let it become one.

“I’m very happy with my performance tonight,” she said. “It was a very smart performance, very clever. I boxed an exhibition tonight. I made the fight as easy as possible. I didn’t get dragged into the fight for a change!

There was no point standing there trading shots with her. That’s her strength. The plan was always to box on the outside. I think I stayed there for the whole fight.
I definitely knew I had to stay distant throughout the whole fight. That’s what Ross [Enamait] was drilling into me for the last few months. That’s exactly what I did. I stayed on the outside. I moved very well. I was hopping off her very well. My jab was very good tonight.

“I still came out with a big eye,” she laughed.

“I felt great all camp really. This was probably the best I’ve felt in camp coming up to a fight. I had a longer camp for this fight I was able to build up strength. It was great to be able to eat a small bit more during fight week… I walk around at 140 so I just had to literally step on the scale. I didn’t have to cut any weight for this fight. I felt strong — I would feel just as strong at 135 as well.”

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katie-taylor-after-her-victory-over-christina-linardatou Taylor celebrates her victory over Linardatou. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

There will be plenty of chatter with regards to what’s next over the coming days.

Taylor, reminded by Hearn that she’s the boss, claims to have no preference as to whether she pursues another undisputed title at 140 pounds or moves back down to 135 in search of superfights with nemeses Amanda Serrano and Delfine Persoon.

“It’s great, actually,” she said. “There is no shortage of huge fights out there for me.

When I first sat down with Eddie Hearn a few years ago we didn’t really know what way this journey would go. To see so many options, so many big fights out there, big headline fights, history-making fights, is very, very exciting.

Hearn, too, suggested Taylor is at only the formative stages of her ascent to professional boxing immortality, but assured her rivals that their time — and indeed money — would come. Just form an orderly queue, first.

“I feel like there is so much more to do,” said the Essex promoter.

I said in a meeting in Philadelphia, I said to Katie, ‘What do you think — another five, six, seven fights?’ She looked at me like she wanted to kill me. She was disgusted. I don’t know, this is what she loves to do. She’s improving, boxing so well. There are so many opportunities. Now, in her prime, this is the time to take those big fights. That is when you have to grab them, in your prime. You don’t want to take him five, six fights down the road when you are not as good as you were five fights ago.

“At the same time, she is the governor of the divisions. She is the governor of the sport. All these other people have to understand they will get their opportunities; Katie will fight all of them but she is the boss. All these people, Linardatou included, just made life-changing money tonight through fighting Katie Taylor. Which is great — that’s not a criticism. That is wonderful for the sport and brilliant that female fighters are getting opportunities and paydays like that through Katie Taylor.”

katie-taylor-before-the-fight Katie Taylor walks to the ring. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Serrano and Persoon have been especially vocal in recent months, both essentially accusing Taylor of running away from fights against them.

Taylor, who stressed that she doesn’t engage in verbals and prefers to harbour a ‘quiet confidence’ as she goes about her business, did sound one parting shot at her adversaries:

I think the fights are going to happen anyway. Eventually, I’ll shut them up. I’m going to have a chance to shut them all up.

Hearn: ‘I keep signing a new contract with her and one fight later, the contract looks sh**’

About the author:

Gavan Casey  / Reports from Manchester

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