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Katie is becoming a star - but beware of cheap imitations, warns Hearn

Promoter Eddie Hearn has been fulsome in his praise of Katie Taylor ahead of her third professional bout in London this weekend.

Image: Ryan Byrne; ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne/INPHO

EDDIE HEARN HAD some choice words on the topic of Katie Taylor’s much-vaunted potential to transform the common perception of women’s boxing.

“Beware of cheap imitations,” warned the Matchroom promoter at yesterday’s pre-fight press conference ahead of Taylor’s third pro bout – an undercard clash with Italian Monica Gentili in support of the big heavyweight clash between David Haye and Tony Bellew at London’s O2 Arena.

She’s becoming a star because she’s so entertaining to watch,” continued Hearn. “It’s not a dig, but beware of cheap imitations for women’s boxing because they haven’t all got the style to make it entertaining and Katie has.

“You’re not going to get bored watching Katie fight,” added the promoter in what he may have claimed was not a dig, but clearly appeared to be a jibe at rival Frank Warren and his recent signing Nicola Adams, Britain’s two-time Olympic champion.

Katie Taylor in action against Karina Kopinska Source: Ryan Byrne; ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Hearn’s bullishness was down to the fact that he was elaborating on Taylor’s future following a query relating to the quality – or lack thereof – of the Bray woman’s professional opponents so far.

Gentili, an 18/1 underdog, is 39 years old and carries a record of 6-6. The Lazio native was drafted in as replacement opponent after Bulgarian world-title challenger Milena Koleva – who was originally lined up to fight Taylor this weekend – pulled out of the bout last week due to a chest infection.

Considering that, it may be harsh to query her relative quality in comparison to Taylor’s elite amateur foes.

But a CV containing five amateur world titles, six European crowns and an Olympic gold mean that the 30-year-old is likely to face accusations that she is fighting below her level, having dispatched journeywoman Karina Kopinska before a points win over the tough Viviane Obenauf (then 9-1) late last year.

Katie Taylor celebrates her win with Eddie Hearn Eddie Hearn has been fulsome in his praise of Katie Taylor. Source: Ryan Byrne; ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Hearn’s reasoning for Taylor’s fight plans and opponents appears to be threefold – one, there is a limited amount of opposition available; two, Taylor must serve something of a professional apprenticeship and, three, boxing is as much a business as a sport.

The latter point also appears to be the main consideration in an effort to build Taylor’s winning record and, therefore, her public profile and potential earning power.

“I’m very happy with her opponents… most people saying that are just looking for something to criticise. I mean it’s her third fight,” said Hearn on suggestions Taylor is fighting inferior opposition.

“There’s kind of like a group of fighters you can choose from and you’re reasonably limited,” he continued. “Gentili has stepped up [after Koleva’s withdrawl]. She’s game and she’s tough.

“I think Katie can stop her because she walks on to shots and she really has a go, so it’ll be exciting and another great opportunity for her to box on a stage like this,” added the Matchroom promoter, who suggested that Taylor will not compete against world-class opponents until she competes for a world-title.

“It’s about developing her profile so when we get to the top we can maximise it, we can get the crowds and give her the pay days she needs to fight in world championship fights. Without this building [process], you can’t do that,” claimed Hearn.

Despite his apparent transparency in terms of prioritising Taylor’s promotional needs, the promoter suggested that the 30-year-old Bray native is potentially three fights away from a world-title shot once she gets past Gentili this weekend.

“She’s probably three fights away from challenging for a world title,” said Hearn. “People should enjoy the journey and then very soon she’ll be in a tough test for championship fights,” added the promoter ahead of today’s weigh-in for the six-round lightweight bout.

Katie Taylor could have 7 fights this year as she’s fast-tracked towards world title shot

Katie Taylor will fight Italian Monica Gentili on the Haye-Bellew undercard this weekend

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Ciarán Gallagher

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