Katie takes over as the headliner

Katie Taylor at yesterday’s press conference in Manchester. Photo: Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Less than three years after her first appearance at the Manchester Arena, Katie Taylor returns as the headline act in the 21,000 seater venue on Saturday, November 2.

Even though the now undisputed world lightweight champion previously headlined a professional show in York Hall in December 2017, the iconic London venue has only 1,200 seats.

So in every sense this is a breakthrough moment in women's professional fight and Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn is taking a significant commercial risk. It would have been unthinkable until Taylor's rise through the ranks of professional boxing for a female fighter to headline a live television professional show at a big venue.

Though exhausted after an overnight flight from Boston, Taylor's enthusiasm was palpable.

"The chance to headline the show is very special. It is the stuff dreams are made of and a milestone in my career.

"Hopefully my Irish fans will travel over for the fight because I'd love to see them in the Arena," said Taylor, who returns to her training base in Connecticut today.

Realistically, with Taylor likely to be fighting in the US for the foreseeable future, this could be the last chance to see the undefeated four-belt world champion in action on this side of the Atlantic for quite some time.

The opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Steve Collins and Carl Frampton and become only the third ever Irish boxer to win world professional titles at two different weights excites her.

"I am coming into this fight as the challenger, which is a change, though it doesn't make any real difference. I am going into the ring to win regardless of whether people see me as a challenger or the champion.

"I want to perform but it is going to be a tough fight. From the clips I've seen of her she is a very strong fighter. She is very aggressive and has a big right hand," said Taylor, who will be making her debut in the super lightweight category.

But her Athens-based opponent Christina Linardatou is not short of confidence either.

"Katie still boxes like an amateur. I box like a professional. I can't wait for the fight," said the 31-year-old, who is determined to retain her WBO super lightweight belt.