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Dublin: 16 °C Monday 24 June, 2019

'It will be a dark and rainy night for Katie': Sanchez vows to destroy Taylor's title dream

Anahi Esther Sanchez defends her WBA World lightweight title against Katie Taylor on Saturday.

Image: Lawrence Lustig/INPHO

Updated at 18.53

THE BOOKIES MAY have her slated as a 12/1 long shot, while most fight fans and the media rate her chances as somewhere between slim and none, but Anahi Esther Sanchez was talking a good game at today’s final pre-fight press conference ahead of Saturday’s showdown against Katie Taylor.

The Argentine champion will defend her WBA world lightweight title against Olympic gold medallist Taylor this weekend in Cardiff on the Sky Box Office undercard of Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence when the Londoner meets Carlos Takam.

While the roof will be closed at the Principality Stadium – with promoter Eddie Hearn claiming that a crowd of 70,000-plus will make Saturday’s card “the biggest indoor boxing event of all time” – Sanchez boldly predicted that she will rain pain down on Ireland’s ‘Golden Girl’.

“Everybody is thinking that Katie is coming to lift the belt over here, but they’re wrong,” said Sanchez, with manager Sampson Lewkowicz acting as her interpreter. “It won’t be a walk in the park. It will be a dark and rainy night for Katie,” added the champion.

Lewkowicz may be familiar to Irish fight fans as the man behind former world champions Sergio and Kiko Martinez, both of whom battled Irish fighters. One-time middleweight kingpin Sergio defeated Matthew Macklin in an entertaining 2012 tussle, while Kiko — who infamously stopped Bernard Dunne 10 years ago — lost two memorable bouts to Carl Frampton, the latter marking Frampton’s first world title success when Lewkowicz was Kiko’s promoter, between 2013 and 2014.

The Uruguayan fight boss referenced Scott Quigg’s 2015 win over Martinez when laughing that he is due a win over an Eddie Hearn fighter but, on a more serious note, he claimed Sanchez’s pro experience will be the difference on fight night, insisting that Taylor’s amateur success has not prepared her for the harsh realities of the pro game.

“You [Hearn] take a lot of chances on your shows, you make real fights,” said Lewkowicz in an effort to flatter his promotional host. “You beat a couple of my guys that are really good, but this time I honestly don’t think she [Taylor] is prepared for what’s coming on Saturday night. No disrespect, but amateur is completely different from professional.”

Hearn, however, remains adamant that if any female fighter is capable of becoming a household name and a star to transcend boxing, Taylor has the ingredients, saying:

When you talk about superstars transcending the sport, Katie Taylor is one of them. She turned professional 11 months ago and the plan was to win a world title within 12 months, but she has a huge step up on Saturday against a two-weight world champion.

Bray native Taylor – heading into just her seventh paid contest – also seems to be thinking big.

Despite claiming five world titles as an amateur in addition to her London 2012 Olympic gold, 31-year-old Taylor believes this weekend’s bout is the biggest occasion of her glittering fight career.

“This is the biggest night of my career, without a doubt, and I’m so excited about it,” she said.

“Ever since I turned pro I wanted to fight for world titles and fight on big nights… These are the sort of fights that are going to elevate women’s boxing.”

Boasting a pro record of 17 wins and two losses, 26-year-old Sanchez has claimed world titles at both super-featherweight and lightweight, with the Buenos Aires native’s two career losses coming in Europe in her only fights away from her homeland.

Taylor, 6-0 as a pro since turning to the paid game last November, admitted that her opponent’s pro experience makes Saturday’s bout a new challenge.

“It’s definitely a big step up, that’s why I’m taking this fight so seriously and why I’ve had a very long training camp under my belt as well,” said the Bray woman, who is confident that an 11-week training camp at the Connecticut base of coach Ross Enamait has her well primed for her first world-title shot.

“I’m prepared for a tough 10-round battle. I’ve had a great 11-week camp in America and I’m prepared for whatever comes my way,” said Taylor.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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