Thursday 25 May 2017

Three the magic number for Taylor

Katie Taylor celebrates her fourth professional victory over Melina Koleva on Saturday. Photo: Reuters / Lee Smith
Katie Taylor celebrates her fourth professional victory over Melina Koleva on Saturday. Photo: Reuters / Lee Smith

Seán McGoldrick

A decade after playing a pivotal role in securing a place for women boxers at the Olympic Games, Katie Taylor could now change the face of women's professional boxing.

Her relentless march towards a dream world title fight in Dublin later this year took a step closer to reality when she chalked up her fourth pro victory in as many months in the Manchester Arena on Saturday.

Taylor outclassed the durable, but ultimately limited, Bulgarian Melina Koleva every bit as comprehensively as suggested by the 80-72 scorecard of referee Howard Foster, who correctly awarded her all eight rounds. But the Taylor camp believes her true potential is being stymied by an arcane rule which decrees that rounds in women's professional boxing are of only a two-minute duration.

This is not just at variance with men's professional boxing, but with women's amateur boxing as well. Since the start of this year all rounds in senior male and female amateur boxing last three minutes.

"If you had three-minute rounds, you would definitely have a better chance of stopping these girls," said Taylor after her contest which was on the undercard of Jorge Linares' masterful defence of his WBA world lightweight title against Anthony Crolla.

"It would make for a different fight. We spar three-minute rounds all the time. In preparation for this fight I sometimes did eight three-minute rounds with 30 seconds' break during sparring.

"It is now three, three-minute rounds for the girls in the amateur game so it's definitely going to put pressure on these guys (who organise) the pro game.

"I'd be happy to go three-minute rounds. I think you would see a lot more knockouts in the women's game if it goes to three-minute rounds," she predicted.

Taylor's performance in an exhibition bout during the 2007 World amateur championships in Chicago helped persuade the then president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge to support the inclusion of women's boxing in the Olympic programme.

Katie, of course, went on to capture a gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012.

Taylor's American-based trainer Ross Enamait explained why he dislikes the two-minute format.

"I'd love to see three-minute rounds; I hate the twos. It's hard to just stop. With most of these girls you're not going to hit someone one time and knock them out cold.

"In order to knock girls out you're going to have to break them down to the body and when you have an extra minute that's a lot more time to get those fatigue stoppages or stoppages where they just can't keep their hand up when they're hit with three shots and the referee steps in.

"The stoppages need accumulation (of punches) and when you have three minutes you have a lot more time to work, especially the way she (Taylor) digs the body," suggested Enamait, who has forged a productive working relationship with the Bray pugilist as she adjusts to the demands of professional boxing.

Initially disappointed that she didn't achieve her a third win within the distance, Taylor acknowledged in her dressing room afterwards that going eight rounds for the first time would prove beneficial in the long term.

Stoppage

"Obviously when you are in there in the ring you are looking for a stoppage but the eight rounds will do me the world of good. If I'm looking for world titles this year I'm going to be in a few tough fights so you can't buy the experience I had tonight."

Despite earning rave reviews for her performance from a plethora of experts in the sport, Taylor insists she is still on a learning curve.

"I probably still have a few bad habits from the amateur game that I have to work on. I obviously have to plant my feet a bit more and look for that big power shot rather than go for a five- or six-punch combination. I am learning in every fight."

After a short break this week at home in Bray, Taylor heads back to her new base in Vernon, Connecticut to prepare for her next fight on April 29 at Wembley Stadium on the undercard of the World heavyweight clash between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko before an unexpected attendance of 90.000.

By then Taylor will have be seen live by an estimated 150,00 fans in her five professional fights which is unprecedented in the history of women's professional boxing.

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