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'It's so good to see an Irish athlete headlining this event. Think of all the girls sitting at home, and boys as well'

Katie Taylor’s latest title defence and England v Ireland are up for discussion as Kathleen McNamee and Johnny Ward join us on this week’s edition of The Punt.

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

KATIE TAYLOR AND the Ireland men’s football team are staying a floor apart in the same London hotel this week. 

The undisputed lightweight champion of the world is readying herself for Saturday’s title defence against Miriam Gutierrez of Spain at the Wembley Arena. 

It is particularly significant as Taylor headlines an event being shown free by Sky Sports at a time when the masses are watching, and will be preceded by two women’s world title fights.

Right next door at Wembley Stadium, the Boys in Green are also in action against England on Thursday evening. 

In the second instalment of The Punt — our new show sponsored by William Hill that looks ahead to the major Irish sporting events each month — we call up Kathleen McNamee of ESPN to discuss just how far the Bray boxer has come since joining the professional ranks in 2016. 

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katie-taylor-with-her-titles-after-winning The undisputed lightweight champion, Katie Taylor. Source: Matchroom Boxing/Mark Robinson/INPHO

“This is massive,” says McNamee. “It’ll be prime time for watching and has never happened before. The fact that she hasn’t just been added to a big men’s bill is great.

“To get any sort of women’s sport on that prime slot and for it to be advertised the way it has been… I’ve seen it constantly being advertised on the TV.

“She’s bringing all the other names on the card up with her too. It’s the thing that always comes up with women’s sport and I’m probably sick of saying it as much as others are sick of hearing it, but unless people see it they’re not going to engage with it. 

The fact that they’ve given her this prime slot means more people are going to be exposed to the Katie Taylor brand and will be interested in seeing her future bouts. 

“They’ll probably tune in to catch the other fights as well and think ‘This is really interesting, maybe I should follow it a bit more’.

“It’s so good to see an Irish athlete headlining this sort of event. You think of all the girls sitting at home, and young boys as well.” 

After that, Johnny Ward joins Gavan Casey and Gavin Cooney to chat about this latest international break and the challenges facing Stephen Kenny ahead of games against England, Wales and Bulgaria — namely selection issues, a lack of goals and the recent form of Shane Duffy. 

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- Originally published at 13.08

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