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Rare glimpse into inner steel that drives Taylor to success


CHALLENGE: Katie Taylor puts her world title on the line in London tomorrow

CHALLENGE: Katie Taylor puts her world title on the line in London tomorrow

CHALLENGE: Katie Taylor puts her world title on the line in London tomorrow

Occasionally Katie Taylor lets her guard slip allowing us to catch a glimpse of the inner steel that makes her special.

In recent months, unbeaten British prospect Chantelle Cameron, the current WBC super lightweight World champion, has goaded Taylor. She is impatient and wants to test herself against the Bray boxer.

In her most recent jibe, Cameron suggested that Taylor would 'crumble' against her. It's a taunt that will come back to haunt her someday.

Taylor never engages in the trash talk so beloved by most of her contemporaries, so her occasional put-downs are authentic. When asked about Cameron's comment at a zoom conference, she paused for a second before remarking.

"I'm not the type of fighter that crumbles." And just to make sure there wasn't a follow-up question she added "We can just move on from that."

She was equally caustic when commenting on Delfine Persoon's reaction to the outcome of their epic second fight. The Belgian accepted the judges' unanimous decision immediately after the fight only to backtrack at a subsequent press conference.

Not only did Taylor close the debate, she delivered a neat verbal upper cut to the Sky TV commentary/fight analysist team, the majority of whom suggested Persoon had won.

"I couldn't care less what opponents are saying afterwards. It was a very clear victory and anybody who says otherwise doesn't know anything about boxing." Ouch!

For the most part, combat sport is built around the cult of the personality. Virtually every champion from an iconic figure like Muhammad Ali to modern day mega stars such as Conor McGregor become as famous for what they say outside the ring as how they perform inside it.

Taylor is a different kind of champion. For her everything revolves around how she does in the ring. The rest is a sideshow. Her opponent tomorrow night, Miriam Gutierrez, has long been a fan and has been most respectful in the build-up. But Taylor hasn't been noticed.

"It is all the same to me, I never know what's being said before the fights anyway.

"So regardless of whether they're being respectful or disrespectful, I am just in there to win and to produce a great performance. I don't really take too much notice of what's being said before the fight."

Billy Walsh used to say during the halcyon days of the IABA High Performance Unit that if the male boxers were even half as dedicated as Taylor, they would have garnered even more medals on the world stage.

Now four years into her professional career, Taylor's single-minded commitment to her craft is what sets her apart from her contemporaries. The history of boxing is littered with examples of champion fighters losing focus once they experience the trappings of success.

Taylor was different from the start. The success of her amateur career meant that she was financially secure before making the momentous decision to turn professional. But it's her single-minded commitment which set her apart.

She is one of the few people in the world whose life hasn't been turned upside down by Covid-19. She was used to self-isolation long before the rest of us grasped the concept.

"I don't think I would be doing things much differently if the virus wasn't around," she acknowledged. She lives a monastic-like life in the town of Vernon in Connecticut where she trains most of the year.

Aside from going to Sunday church, the remainder of the week is devoted to her training and recovery sessions.

It is a Spartan lifestyle by any standards, but she never complains.

Interestingly, it only emerged this week in a profile of Taylor published on the Athletic, the subscription-based sports website, that the Bray fighter had contemplated turning professional after she won the Olympic gold medal in London in 2012.

Her manager, Brian Peters, met her and UFC star and former boxing champion Holly Holmes' team to explore the possibility of Taylor challenging Holmes for a world title in her first professional fight. Nothing came of the discussions, but the seed was sown.

Eight years down the road, Taylor is not just the highest paid female fighter in combat sport, she is the most influential as well. Her legacy is secure. But the next important decision she faces will also be the most difficult - when to quit.