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'I would want her out of the game. I'm hoping this is her last fight' - Irish Olympic champion on Taylor

Michael Carruth believes that the world champion should hang up her gloves while she’s at the top.

Updated Oct 27th 2019, 8:24 PM

WITH NOTHING LEFT to prove, Irish boxing legend Michael Carruth believes the time is right for Katie Taylor to finish at the summit of the professional game.

Carruth Michael Carruth believes the time is right for Katie Taylor to leave boxing on a high

The advice doesn’t come from any suspicions about her focus. Carruth knows the precise level of detail that the Bray woman puts into all aspects of her fight preparation.

He happily gives her the title of Ireland’s greatest professional boxer in either gender, and the belts are there to strengthen his claim.

Taylor came into professional boxing with an Olympic gold medal from the 2012 Games along with five amateur world titles and six European crowns. Prior to her setbacks in 2016, she was a dominant fighter at that level.

Closing that chapter of her career was a well-timed decision, according to Dubliner Carruth.

“She’s an Olympic gold medalist,” he begins.

“What’s better than being an Olympic gold medalist? Nothing. Maybe being twice Olympic gold medalist but that’s just being greedy,” he laughs.

She could go to the next Olympic Games and the same thing could happen to her. Boxers are young and I’m not saying Katie’s old but Katie’s getting older. Maybe you lose that little bit of sharpness that you have.

“The pro game suits her to a degree because it’s faster than amateur. You can slow the pace down, longer rounds, she can do what she wants in the longer rounds. It’s a total sprint at amateur. As a professional, it’s a pure marathon and I think the pros is [what's] best for her.”

katie-taylor-on-stage Katie Taylor at her homecoming after becoming the undisputed world champion this year. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Three years on from making that transition, Taylor is making a similar impact on the pro game. She unified the four lightweight belts earlier this year after a narrow victory in New York.

Her decorated cabinet is brimming with silverware but the undisputed champion is already eyeing up more riches.

On 2 November, Taylor will move up to 140 pounds and headline the Manchester Arena in a bid to become a two-weight world champion.

It’s a plan that is loaded with ambition, but similar to his stance on her quitting amateur boxing, Carruth believes the 31-year-old is nearing the end of her professional career.

I would love her to get out because I know her so well and I think when you’re undisputed, you’re undisputed. There’s nothing bigger or better.

“I would want her out of the game. You can fight one fight too many. This is just a personal thing with me and Katie. She’s at the absolute top — where can you go from there? You can’t go anywhere, only down.

“I’m hoping that doesn’t happen to her and I’m hoping this is her last fight. Then again, she loves what she does and she’s impeccable in her approach to it. No stone is left unturned.”

katie-taylor-and-delfine-persoon Katie Taylor in action against Delfine Persoon. Source: Matchroom Boxing/Ed Mulholland/INPHO

Elaborating on how Taylor will prepare herself for the showdown with WBO champion Christina Linardatou, Carruth continues:

“She’ll be sparring guys heavier than her to get used to the weight difference. She’ll be sparring guys lighter than her to get speed. She’ll have all her homework done on her opponent, she’ll have her nutrition right and her head right. She’ll be right for the fight.”

With an Olympic year drawing closer, Carruth casts his mind back to the 2016 Rio Games where Ireland’s boxing hopes were rocked by controversy.

Taylor’s split-decision loss which ended her Olympic title defence certainly comes up, while the exits of Joe Ward and Michael Conlan also get a mention. Carruth is certain that all three were wronged in Rio, while Paddy Barnes “could have still won the fight” despite his struggles with making weight.

Similar to Taylor, Barnes has also transferred to the professional ranks, although his campaign has been comparably less successful. The Belfast man admitted earlier this year that he will “probably retire” after a defeat to Texan Oscar Mojica saw his pro fight record drop to 5-2.

With results not going his way, Carruth echoes Barnes’ words about hanging up the gloves.

“Get out of the game,” he says.

Paddy is a long time in boxing and you can only go so far as you get older. Your reactions aren’t as good, everything’s not as good. I believe there’s a job for Paddy in a development role in Belfast.

 ”That’s what I think he should do, get out of the pro game. He’s given enough to boxing. He’s a three-time Olympian, he’s our only two-time medalist. He’s been a great ambassador for our country. He’s had an up and down pro career.

“Get out of it now and go and enjoy life.”

In Conlan’s case, he’ll get the chance to seek revenge for his infamous Olympic defeat to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin when the two square off at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday, 14 December. 

michael-conlan-looses-to-vladimir-nikitin Michael Conlan after his defeat to Vladimir Nikitin at the Olympics in 2016.

“I still believe he [Conlan] won it,” says Carruth as he recalls the Rio fight, “but I can see reasons why they gave it to the Russian because Michael’s head does go back quite a bit.

His antics after it, you know, he was a young man. If he had his time [back], he probably wouldn’t have done what he done. His dream was taken away from him.

“I still firmly believe he won the fight but again, it was one of those things. I still think Katie Taylor won, Joe Ward was treated terribly because he got two public warnings in an Olympic fight [against] I’m not being bad [but] novice boxers, not elite champions.”

But those disappointing results are consigned to the past as Carruth looks to the Tokyo Olympics with a renewed sense of hope.

Ireland failed to medal at the World Boxing Championships across both genders this year, but the 1992 Olympic gold medalist has no concerns about that as the event was not an Olympic qualifier.

On a more positive note, he believes the experience will stand to those who were selected to represent Ireland on this occasion. 

“Absolutely. Say one of these win a national title this time around, they’ve got a World Championship [behind them] and they know what they have to do.

“You learn more from losing than winning. You might have won a fight but you don’t correct yourself because you won.

michael-carruth-celebrates-winning-a-gold-medal Michael Carruth celebrates after winning his gold medal at the 1992 Olympics. Source: James Meehan/INPHO

“I think it was a brave call picking some of the guys for the World Championships but it wasn’t a qualifier so I don’t think we should look too much into it.

“The World Championships next year is a qualifier for the Olympic Games and the best guys and girls will be going.”

Having finished at the top of the podium at the Barcelona Olympics 27 years ago, Carruth is naturally keeping his eyes peeled for medal prospects.

Maybe it’s linked with his admiration for Taylor, but Carruth believes Ireland’s best chance for success rests among our female boxers.

I’m hoping for eight boxers [at the Olympics] – four boys and four girls. I think the girls will excel and I’m hoping that if the girl in red wins, give it to the girl in red. Don’t give it to the girl in blue.

“It’s exciting times.”

Michael Carruth was at the launch of Circle K’s “Here for Ireland” initiative.

Circle K customers can use the Circle K app or their loyalty tag in-store to generate digital coins that Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls can use to fuel their journey to the Tokyo 2020 Games.

To support Ireland’s athletes, simply download the Circle K app today.

- First published at 09.30 

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