Taylor puts in polished performance with dominating win over Koleva
Katie Taylor 80-72 Milena Koleva
Katie Taylor continued her rapid ascent through the ranks of women's professional boxing when she won her fourth fight in four months in the Manchester Arena.
Just three weeks after her fifth round stoppage win over Italian Monica Gentili, the 2012 London Olympic gold medallist accounted for 28-year-old Bulgarian Milena Koleva on the undercard of the world lightweight title fight between Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla.
Her father and former coach Pete Taylor described her last week as a 'diamond who simply required polishing' to make an impact in the pro ranks.
The 30-year-old Bray pugilist enforced that view in front of 15,000 fans as she embellished her still embryonic pro career with a comfortable 80-72 win over a brave but limited opponent.
There was been a visible transformation in her form since undertaking a post Christmas seven week long training camp in Vernon, Connecticut, the adapted home town of her new coach.
Self-evidently the pair have gelled in what was an essential requisite if Taylor's professional career was to blossom. The five-time World amateur champion now looks and acts more like a professional boxer.
She is methodical, patient, chooses her shots more carefully and works her opponent's body much more than during her glorious amateur career.
Clad in her now customary black gear trimmed with gold, Taylor received an enthusiastic welcome. She went to work early with two cracking lefts following by a right cross. The Bulgarian was quickly on the defensive and got caught in the corner.
Taylor was on the offensive again in the second though she did get caught with a decent left. For the most part, the favourite kept her distance but when she attacked, she left of a flurry of scoring punches.
Taylor's superior hand speed was particular noticeable but Koleva stayed out of trouble for the most part before being caught just before the end of the third round. The Bulgarian was rocked back on her heels when Taylor connected with a sharp left early in the fourth, though recovered to fire of a couple of shots of her own, one of which connected.
As expected there was no sign of Koleva wilting as the fight passed the half way mark. The pace dropped slightly, but Taylor was still the busier fighter. The Bulgarian tried a haymaker punch, which missed at the start of the sixth, which prompted Taylor to move up a gear as she got her combinations going away and landed a flurry of body punches.
At the end of the round Koleva finally looked out on her feet but she grimly held on. In the penultimate stanza, Taylor caught Koleva with a ferocious left and then followed up with a flurry of shots before a right her opponent on the canvas in the opening minute. She survived the count and hung on.
The pace dropped in the eighth and final round, and the Bulgarian mustered enough energy to catch Taylor with one shot, but Katie ended the contest with a customary flurry of punches which pinned the Bulgarian to the ropes.
Not surprisingly, the judge gave the verdict to Taylor 80-72 meaning she won all eight rounds. So its onwards and upwards for the Bray pugilist.
Meanwhile, two of Ireland's leading middleweight prospects have enhanced their career prospects with crucial wins within 24 hours of each other.
Tyrone native Conrad Cummings, who was controversially beaten in his previous bout in November, relaunched his career when he secured the vacant WBO European title with a third round KO win over 37-year-old Austrian veteran Gogi Knezevic in Edinburgh.
Trained by Shane McGuigan, son of Barry McGuigan, Cummings dominated the fight and secured the belt to boost his record to 11-1-1.
On the other side of the Atlantic in Indio, California, Donegal's Jason Quigley won his first belt since turning professional when he beat Glen Tapia for the vacant North American Boxing Federation middleweight title.
After a bruising ten round encounter, Quigley comfortably won on a unanimous points decision though he later revealed that he suffered an injury to his right hand in the second round which forced him to change tactics.
The win moves him to ninth spot in the WBA middle world ranking list, though he now faces a period of inactivity to allow his injured hand to recover.