Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 0°C
Gary Carr/INPHO
# a night of firsts
Katie Taylor 'couldn't care less' that she's the underdog for the first time in her career
‘I think we were supposed to be fighting in Eddie Hearn’s backyard during the pandemic, so I think MSG and a packed 20,000 arena… It is a bit better.’

KATIE TAYLOR BECAME aware during her amateur career of female professional boxing’s leading light, Amanda Serrano. As soon as Taylor herself donned the pro gloves in 2016, it seemed that a collision between the new-school, Olympic-seasoned Irish amateur legend and the old-school, started-from-the-bottom Puerto Rican pro was inevitable.

That it took five and a half years to materialise is solely down to Serrano and her trainer-manager Jordan Maldonado, who managed to do a good job of keeping Taylor’s at arm’s length until this Saturday night when Serrano will pocket over a million dollars, 10 times more than she would have been paid for the same fight when it was first formally explored.

Taylor, meanwhile, could earn somewhere in the region of twice that. Ahead of a headline slot at Madison Square Garden, the first of its kind for two female fighters, the Bray woman is more than happy that Serrano made her wait.

“I don’t know if she was avoiding me or what the issue was with the fight that fell thought that time,” Taylor says of their originally scheduled 2020 bout, from which Serrano withdrew.

She was saying it was a money issue, a purse issue, a couple of years ago. I’m very glad now that the fight did fall through because we’re in the position now where we’re making history on Saturday night and the fight is bigger now than it ever was — and we’re also making a lot more money than we would have made a couple of years back as well. The fight has grown over these last two years.

“Everything about it really… I think we were supposed to be fighting in Eddie Hearn’s backyard during the pandemic, so I think MSG and a packed 20,000 arena… It is a bit better,” she laughs.

On a night of firsts, Taylor enters this defence of her undisputed lightweight title as the bookmakers’ underdog — unprecedented in her 20+ years of competitive boxing, not to mind her 20 previous professional fights.

At the time of writing, Taylor can be found as far out as 11/8 to win the bout. Her nose crinkles at the mention of people beginning to doubt her ability for the first time since she was a child prodigy.

“It honestly doesn’t matter to me whether I’m seen as the underdog or the favourite. I don’t think any notice of that.

Even as an amateur boxer or over all these years as a pro, I couldn’t tell you whether I was the underdog or the favourite in any fight. I couldn’t care less about other people’s opinions. What matters is what I think about the fight and where my mindset is. That’s all that matters to me. I feel in great shape, and I’m ready to put on a great performance and ready to make history.

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“I don’t go into any fight expecting to lose. I train to win and I am expecting to come out victorious. If anything didn’t go my way that would be a very, very disappointing night. I am prepared for a very tough challenge. She is a great fighter and a great champion and these are the sort of challenges I absolutely love. These are the fights you dream of as a kid: champion versus champion, the best versus the best, and headlining in Madison Square Garden.

“Ever since the fight was announced, you can feel the excitement and buzz from people. And people are saying this is the biggest fight in women’s boxing history, but also one of the biggest fights in boxing as a whole.

You can definitely feel there is something different about this fight, you can feel this is a mega fight. Fight week is always very busy but this week has been incredible and I guess it is just a reflection of the magnitude of the fight.

“I don’t think either of us are really interested in all the media side of things,” Taylor adds. “We’re just interested in being the best fighter in the world.”

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