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'She wasn’t really up to much to be honest, so it was nice to get the stoppage'

Katie Taylor was reflecting on her first ever professional victory.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

SITTING DOWN TO address the media having made a winning start to her professional career on Saturday night, Katie Taylor appeared comfortably satisfied.

So comfortable was the Bray woman in a previously unused dressing-room – separate to her own – at Wembley Arena that her manager Brian Peters joked of the intimate setting that promoter Eddie Hearn should get a celebratory bottle of whiskey out.

It was a far cry from earlier in the week, however, as Taylor admitted that she felt under pressure in the build-up to her first paid contest.

The former Olympic champion was an unbackable 1/100 favourite heading into her clash with Polish journeywoman Karina Kopinska and Taylor delivered a ruthless performance as the fight lived up to the bookies’ one-sided expectations.

However, the Bray woman was only priced at evens for a stoppage win as Kopinska is considered a durable opponent, the 27-year-old Pole having only suffered one stoppage loss in 24 fights prior to Saturday night’s encounter.

Taylor had also faced an unprecedented level of media obligations in the fight-week build-up, with her debut billed by promoters Matchroom Sports and Sky Sports as being centre stage of the London promotion. Hearn and his company claim they are seeking to push the five-time amateur world champion as the driving force to raise interest levels in women’s pro boxing, and Taylor admitted such welcome backing also brings potentially unwelcome pressure.

“I felt pretty good in there, obviously there was an awful lot of pressure this week coming into this fight and I had to impress as well as get the victory so I had that in the back of my mind,” said Taylor after dispatching Kopinska less than one minute into the third round.

“I had to be a bit more aggressive and I think over the last couple of months with Ross I’ve been boxing better than I had done for a long, long time and I think it showed in there tonight,” added the 30-year-old, referring to her new Connecticut-based coach Ross Enamait.

When asked if the performance was exactly what she had hoped for, Taylor laughed: “I was hoping for a first-round knockout to be honest!

“No, it was obviously a very good performance and that girl has only been stopped once before, so she’s very durable.

“I was expecting a tough six-round battle, but she wasn’t really up to much to be honest, so it was nice to get the stoppage,” added the Bray native, whose manager Peters expressed his delight with the convincing nature of the victory.

Hearn and Peters are attempting to guide the London 2012 champion though unchartered waters in the sense that the women’s pro game is not in any way considered to be a marketable commodity in the same way men’s prize fighting is – or even women’s MMA for that matter.


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“After the first couple of punches, she wasn’t in good form,” said Peters of how Kopinska was hurt by Taylor. “[But] she’d only been stopped once before.

“Katie showed her repertoire of punches too with the different shots,” added the manager, who – together with Hearn and Matchroom – has lined Taylor up to get back in action in just two weeks with an undercard appearance on Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence in Manchester on December 10.

Her opponent for that contest is expected to be confirmed next week and Peters has promised that Taylor’s next test will represent a step up, although it seems unlikely that world-class opposition will be booked until well into 2017 as her team look to build Taylor’s profile with a winning record.

Following on from that Manchester date, the six-time European amateur champion looks likely to feature on a March 18 card at New York’s Madison Square Garden in support of Gennady Golovkin’s anticipated middleweight championship defence.

So it seems there will be opportunities aplenty for Taylor to convert the unbelievers who may not currently rate or follow women’s pro boxing.

When asked about finding a balance between delivering exciting performances – even if her competition in the immediate future remains below her high standard – and the need to box more sensibly at times, Taylor’s answer hinted at how much she is already relishing the more aggressive nature of the paid game.

“Yeah, I think the most important thing was to get the win obviously,” said the 30-year-old. “But you do have to be a bit more aggressive, I think, and sit down on your punches a bit more.

“It was great to wear those smaller gloves, you could really feel your punches,” added Taylor on wearing professional 10oz gloves for the first time, which are more puncher friendly than the amateur equivalent.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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