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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 20 January 2021

Taylor primed for aggressive tactics from 'rough' Gentili in London

The Bray boxer steps into the ring for her third professional bout against the experienced Italian tonight.

Taylor and Gentili at yesterday's weigh-ins.
Taylor and Gentili at yesterday's weigh-ins.
Image: John Walton

HEAVILY TATTOOED, WITH a shaven head, Monica Gentili certainly looked the part of a tough opponent when stepping on the scales yesterday ahead of her bout with Katie Taylor tonight.

The 39-year-old Italian carries a modest 6-6 record, but was afforded the chance to take on the former Olympic champion thanks to the withdrawal of Bulgarian world title challenger Milena Koleva, who pulled out of the bout due to illness last week.

It is relatively a significant stage for the Lazio native to find herself on.

Sky have installed the six-round lightweight bout as a live float, which means the fight looks likely to take place in a high-profile slot immediately ahead of the pay-per-view main event – a heavily hyped heavyweight clash between David Haye and Tony Bellew.

“I got the call to box about a week ago,” explained Gentili. “I was training… for this fight, maybe I needed more days to train, but it’s an honour to fight her (Taylor) because she’s a good fighter and maybe the best in the world… She’s a good fighter and I expect a tough fight.”

Gentili is expected to bring an aggressive close-quarters style which Team Taylor hope will ensure an entertaining bout – something Sky and promoters Matchroom will also be banking on as they look to tee Taylor up for a world title shot later this year.

“I have more experience (as a pro) than Katie, but I don’t know if this will help me,” said Gentili. “She lost fights as an amateur, but maybe this feels different for her because it’s a different level… Professional boxing is harder.”

That reference to the more aggressive nature of pro boxing than its amateur code is also relevant to Taylor’s preparations as she bids to extend her undefeated pro record to 3-0.

The Bray woman acknowledged the more aggressive nature of pro boxing when admitting that she has been working with trainer Ross Enamait on boxing’s ‘dark arts’ – the more questionable tricks of the paid trade that may be needed against any potentially sly opponent.

“It’s definitely a big part of the game and that’s something you don’t see in the amateur game,” said Taylor. “Just being in the ring over the past few months with top seasoned pros, I’ve definitely learned a lot, and also with Ross we’ve worked on it.

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“It might go against my nature but once I’m in the ring I’ll do whatever it takes to actually win the fight. This is the pro game, it’s just rougher.”

Taylor’s attempts to be more aggressive – and produce an entertaining performance to match Sky’s and Matchroom’s backing — should be aided by the fact that her fight will take place at the regular professional lightweight limit of 135lbs.

The 30-year-old’s first two pro bouts were held at her old amateur weight of 132lbs (60kg), but Taylor clocked the scales at 9st 8lbs 3oz yesterday, with Gentili coming in three ounces heavier.

“I feel a lot stronger at 135 – it suits me a lot better,” said Taylor. “I was making 60 kilos, 132lbs, since I was 15 or 16 years of age.”

Asked what he wants to see from Taylor tonight, trainer Enamait – who put the 30-year-old through her paces during a seven-week camp in Connectict prior to their return to Europe last week – insisted that the Bray woman will show the fruits of her labour.

“Just to keep the evolution process going,” said Enamait. “I think she’s a little bit stronger now. She’s had a longer camp, she feels good at the weight so I think she’ll show some of her strength and some of the work she can do inside if she gets close.

“The girl (Gentili) is kind of rough, she’s going to try to get inside and probably bang. She’ll know she can’t box Katie so it’ll probably end up getting close and that’s when you’ll see some of the body work she’s been working on,” added the trainer.

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About the author:

Ciarán Gallagher

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