# casey on boxing
Taylor v Serrano: I'm not one to read too much into a fighter's body language, but...
Gavan Casey elbows to the front of a packed media workout in Manhattan.

Gavan Casey’s boxing newsletter is – usually — written exclusively for members of The42, but is being made available in full to all readers today as par of our Taylor-Serrano coverage. 

Get €5 off an annual The42 membership by using the promo code ‘BTL’ this week and get even more coverage from Gavan in New York. 

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YOU KNOW IT’S a big one when Brian Peters is wearing a blazer.

Katie Taylor’s manager, a silver-tongued Meath businessman who was the boxing promoter in Ireland in the mid to late ’00s, returned to the sport to work with Taylor some seven years after the Bernard Dunne era that he had orchestrated had reached its natural conclusion. He pulls strings from the background these days; in reality, it is chiefly Peters, and to a slightly lesser extent Eddie Hearn, who have masterminded Taylor’s ascent to superstardom outside of Ireland during her professional career. It just suits Peters to operate between the lines and take a backseat where the relentless media duties are concerned.

Even with that in mind, he remains better equipped than just about anybody in the sport of boxing to rip the living piss out of you on the spot. So, when I spied his tweed-jacket-wine-pants combo at yesterday’s fighter workout at Madison Square Garden, it would have been remiss of me not to have a go.

He still has the answers, in fairness, even if they mean turning on himself.

“D’you know what?” Peters grins when quizzed on his attire. “It’s been so long since I wore a blazer that when I dipped my hand into my pocket earlier, I found a receipt from 17 years ago!”

He was telling the truth.

“C’mere,” he says, “a week like this… This is serious, now.”

katie-taylor Gary Carr / INPHO Taylor at yesterday's workout. Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

I was seriously annoyed earlier in the day when I could hardly move at the fighter workout at Madison Square Garden. As I’ve explained in past newsletters, ‘media workouts’ are little more than a box-ticking exercise for fighters and an opportunity for the broadcasters, DAZN in this case, and digital media to capture some #content as the fighters work up a thin sweat in a makeshift ring. I usually attend them purely to populate The42′s Insta feed and, if things are quiet enough, to grab a word with the fighters relevant to our readership.

I met Mick Foley from The Times outside today and by the time we got in, a full 40 minutes early, the place was already thronged.

‘How the hell did Matchroom open this to the public?’ I wondered. About an hour later, when a couple of us finally grabbed a word with Eddie Hearn, he informed us that it wasn’t open to the public at all: everybody in attendance was actually a journalist or video reporter or photographer. Apparently, even World Wrestling Entertainment had sent a reporter to document affairs.

I kind of bullied my way to ringside in time for Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor’s workouts, possibly occupying the spot of a proper photographer — but it had long since become a dog-eat-dog environment. As Serrano worked out, YouTube star and fledgling pro boxer Jake Paul stood to my immediate right. He has taken Serrano under his management wing and, whatever you think of his public persona — frankly, I think literally nothing of it — he has done extremely well to pause his own boxing activities and use his massive platform to champion Serrano and Saturday night’s fight at every turn. (For what it’s worth, our younger readers may be interested to know that he actually comes across as a pretty sound guy, very mannerly, when the cameras are pointed at somebody else.)

When Serrano finished her run-out, Paul entered the ring and raised her hand in the guise of a victorious fighter. “This is what’s happening on Saturday night,” he shouted to the hundred or so media members present.

Taylor entered the ring quietly only a few minutes later and, after shadow-boxing for a bit, she donned a cap to which a tennis ball is attached with elastic. The Bray woman barely missed a beat, rhythmically prodding the ball like a game of swing-ball on speed.

Neither fighter hit the pads and, when I asked one member of Taylor’s team why that was the case, I was told that on their side, they simply couldn’t be bothered going through the rigmarole of gloving up considering the sheer number of media obligations which lay on either side of her cameo in the ring. One would suspect that Serrano and her trainer-manager Jordan Maldonado felt similarly.

The number of interviews that each fighter has already done this week (and bear in mind the actual press conference doesn’t start for a few hours) is unprecedented for both. But I’ve spent enough time in Taylor’s orbit on fight weeks to notice a marked difference in her demeanour this time around: she seems to be enjoying it.

It’s just my own theory, but I would put that down to Taylor knowing that Amanda Serrano isn’t enjoying it at all.

amanda-serrano-and-jake-paul Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

In her last 10 or so fights, Katie Taylor has scaled somewhere between big and major news, regardless of her position on a fight card. While she is — without exception — generous with her time and polite almost to a fault, she truly hates press engagements. She literally doesn’t see the point in them. But she has done enough of them at this stage to know the scéal.

Serrano has done most of her talking over the last five years on Twitter but some of you might not be aware that, in reality, her Twitter account is actually run by her trainer-manager, Jordan Maldonado; Serrano herself doesn’t even have a phone and is not as combative as Maldonado in day-to-day interaction with the outside world. She is, in fact, pretty shy in person, and she seemed taken aback as she approached the workout room yesterday when dozens of phones and cameras were suddenly pointed in her direction.

I’m not one to read too much into fighter’s body language: I just think it’s a false economy wherein we can make assumptions all week but a boxer will usually look a whole lot more comfortable when they’ve had a chance to rehydrate after the weigh-in on a Friday. But one conversation that has always stuck with me was one I had with Andy Lee when I was a college student. I did my thesis in 2016 on the decline of Irish professional boxing and, rather than simply taking a phonecall, Andy, true to form, arranged to meet me for a coffee and a proper chat. It was tangential to the thesis but he told me that, before his middleweight world-title defence against Billy Joe Saunders in which he relinquished his title, he was quite deliberately put through the wringer with constant media obligations and schedule changes which messed with his head in the run-up.

As it pertains to Taylor-Serrano, it’s only a tiny variable but it’s worth taking into account considering how delicate a process fight week tends to be.

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