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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 2 April, 2020

'Like a mouse and a cat' - Linardatou confident she can bully challenger Taylor up at 140 pounds

The Greek champion defends her title against the Irish icon this Saturday.

Christina Linardatou defends her WBO World light-welterweight title against Katie Taylor this Saturday night in Manchester.
Christina Linardatou defends her WBO World light-welterweight title against Katie Taylor this Saturday night in Manchester.
Image: Matchroom Boxing/Mark Robinson/INPHO

“LIKE A MOUSE and a rat.”

WBO World light-welterweight champion Christina Linardatou raised a couple of eyebrows, and drew her fair share of giggles, when asked by promoter Eddie Hearn what kind of a fight she expects when she squares off with her challenger, Katie Taylor, at Manchester Arena on Saturday night.

“Like a mouse and a rat,” she replied matter-of-factly. “That kind of fight.

“But I’m — oh, no… Like a mouse and a cat!”

Her mid-sentence realisation nearly took the roof off the place and, as she has tended to do since her arrival in Manchester on Wednesday morning, she reveled in it.

“I can express myself better in Greek!” added the grinning 31-year-old, whose professional record stands at 12-1(6KOs).

Like a mouse and a cat. But I think if it’s not like that, I can handle everything. I can do whatever you want in the ring to get what I want and to win.

“I’ve beat everyone and I’m always ready, because this is what I love to do.”

katie-taylor-and-christina-linardatou Taylor and Linardatou meet face to face in Manchester. Source: Matchroom Boxing/Mark Robinson/INPHO

Taylor [14-0, 6KOs] scarcely cracked a smile as the supremely confident ‘Medusa’ — nicknamed after the Greek-mythology Gorgon monster, a winged human female with living venomous snakes for hair — battled unhurriedly through her verbal piece. In one ear and out the other — or so it seemed.

During a quick chat in the labyrinth of corridors beneath the Stoller Hall later in the afternoon, the Bray woman admitted with a laugh that she found herself asking who would be the mouse and who would be the cat in Linardatou’s equation.

Time will tell. Although the perception among many is that the Dominican-born Greek’s initial errant analogy might be somewhat more pertinent to their scrap: on paper, Taylor is moving up in weight to face a physically larger, stronger champion. And Linardatou is indeed burly in stature, but she herself only migrated north of lightweight four fights ago following her sole career defeat to then-WBC 135-pound champion Delfine Persoon. She also fought a division below Taylor, at super-feather, once last year.

Her manager, Brian Cohen, was perhaps attempting to add to his fighter’s own mythology when he quipped that he had been informed Linardatou had injured her rib on the third day of camp by way of her trainer throwing boulders at her up the mountains. She broke off the rib and ate it, joked the American Cohen, although the gag seemed to get lost in translation somewhere over the Atlantic.

The venue for Thursday’s press conference was packed to the rafters almost literally as well as figuratively, the balcony overlooking proceedings as brimful of photographers and fans as the deck below.

Most of the latter were in attendance for Mancunian darling Anthony Crolla, the former world champion whose final professional fight will likely take place after Taylor’s on Saturday — although Linardatou-Taylor remains the official headliner as it pertains to the promotion of the event, superseding the undercard on posters as well as Sky Sports’ televised plugs.

When it came to her turn, Taylor reeled off her regular top-table spiel, doubtless semi-allergic. Promoter Hearn knew better than to reach beyond three bog-standard questions, although they did reveal one tidbit of new information: this has been the longest training camp of Taylor’s professional career, even with an extra five pounds’ wiggle-room up at 140.

Backstage, she also reiterated the importance of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) drug-testing program for which both she and Linardatou have supplied both blood and urine tests at random intervals during their preparation — the first of its kind for a women’s professional boxing match.

Taylor confirmed to The42 at Wednesday’s public workout that she was awoken at 6 o’clock on Sunday morning by VADA testers, just a few hours removed from her Transatlantic flight to Manchester, and added on Thursday that she presumes she will be tested again both pre- and post-fight with the Greek champion.

The general vibe around both Wednesday and Thursday’s events is that she’ll be seriously tested by Linardatou, too, whose right hand has been the subject of plenty of whispers.

Around 9,000 fans are expected to attend the event come Saturday night, which while on the face of it might seem underwhelming given the 20,000-capacity of the arena, is a fairly healthy turnout for women’s world-title bout, a farewell fight for a fading star, and an undercard consisting of domestic clashes and stepping-stone fights for prospects.

A significant portion of the ticket sales came from Ireland — both the Republic and the North — per a Matchroom official, who stressed that plenty of English fans from outside of Manchester, many of them female, had also purchased tickets to watch Taylor in the flesh.

It will likely be one of her last outings on this side of the pond with women’s megafights marinating in America upon the tempered assumption that she gets the job done this weekend.

Linardatou, of course, will aim to throw the cat among the pigeons when she squares off with her challenger in two nights’ time.

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About the author:

Gavan Casey  / Reporting from Manchester

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