Thursday 20 June 2019

The undisputed champion of the world

Katie Taylor salutes the crowd after her epic and controversial victory in New York on Saturday night
Katie Taylor salutes the crowd after her epic and controversial victory in New York on Saturday night

Brendan Lawrence, Sports Editor

The boxing queen of the world jetted back into Dublin on Tuesday morning to a huge welcome from supporters following her all-out war with and controversial victory over Delfine Persoon in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

Boxing fans watched in utter awe as the brutal battle unfolded at the historic New York venue as the Belgian policewomen unleashed a feverish and inspired performance that left many believing that the judges had scored the contest wrong.

However, for every cynic there are plenty more boxing enthusiasts who believe that Katie's class and her pure boxing class was what eventually won her the fight after 10 of the most harrowing rounds of women's boxing ever witnessed.

Raucous cheers rang out in Terminal 2 as the 32-year-old Bray native walked through arrivals to meet the large crowd that had gathered to welcome home the Wicklow wonder who is still bearing the wounds and marks from the seismic schemozzle.

Airport security had to hold back the frenzied crowds, but Taylor was none-the-less happy to spend up to 30 minutes taking pictures and signing autographs.

'I feel a lot better than I look right now, but it's great to be home,' said Katie.

'I haven't been home in months so it's great to be on Irish soil again and to see all the supporters who came out here today - it's absolutely phenomenal.

'I think the best part of this is seeing so many female boxers from boxing club all over the country back me every step of the way."

Although her opponent has confirmed she will lodge an official complaint following her defeat, Taylor said­ that she was confident with her win, but is still happy to fight Persoon in a rematch.

'I didn't have any doubts that I landed it," she said.

'It was a very close fight with a great champion and that's what happens when the best fights the best. It was an absolute battle and thankfully I came out victorious.

'A rematch is definitely on the table, which it's going to be great.... I would absolutely love a rematch.'

Talk of a statue being erected in Taylor's honour has surfaced this week with RTE cameras arriving in Bray to get the thoughts of locals in a slightly bizarre vox pop that went out on the national broadcaster. A motion will be tabled in Wicklow County Council this Friday to have a statue erected in Taylor's honour.

However, the Olympic gold medallist questioned if statues were only meant to be erected for people who are dead.

'I'm not sure how I feel about having a statue, but I'm just so grateful from all the support I've received from the whole country.

'The one piece of advice I'd give anyone is if you're passionate about something just go for it with all your heart. "Anything is possible if you work hard for it,' she said.

Asked, what the next few weeks will have in store for her, Taylor said she's going to put her feet up and spend time with her nephews and nieces.

'I've been in Connecticut training for the last six months so for the next couple of weeks I'm just going to have family time and recover.'

Sports Minister Shane Ross who hosted the airport reception he was delighted to welcome Taylor back as the undisputed world champion.

'On behalf of the Irish government we're really delighted to welcome Katie back here today as the undisputed world champion,' he said.

'She has become an icon for Irish people and we're so honoured by what she did on Saturday night. I hope she has a good rest now, but she's done Ireland so proud now,' he said.

The Minister added that Taylor was offered a civic reception but said it's completely up to her whether she wants it or not.

civic reception or not, Katie Taylor has cemented her place in the history of boxing forever more thanks to her heroics in New York.

Along with the WBA, IBF, WBO belts she claimed over the last 20 months, she has now added WBC and the specially commissioned Ring belt to her collection making her only the seventh boxer to hold all belts simultaneously since the four-belt World title era was ushered in.

'It is very, very special. I made history tonight. Ever since I turned pro it was always my goal to get these fight belts,' said Katie after the fight.

'It is incredible actually looking at these five belts. This is what I dreamed for. This is what I trained for. I am absolutely delighted. It was a very close fight. We knew it would be a close fight. That's what happens when the best fights the best. There has to be a winner and a loser.'

Even at Dublin Airport on Tuesay morning, Katie's face still bore the marks of the hectic battle with the Belgian brawler.

But Katie still believes that she has the best job in the world.

'My ambition will be as strong as ever definitely. I am only getting started. The plan now is to be involved in big fights and defend all these titles and to stay on top for a very long time.

'I am definitely not slowing down yet. I still have as much passion as ever for the sport and I actually love what I do.

'This is a dream job for me to be waking up every single day and training every single day and getting ready for these big fights. I'm really so grateful to have this life,' she added.

Taylor fully expected the war she got when she stepped through the ring.

"Nothing surprised me in there. I had prepared for that kind of fight. There was nothing new in there. She was strong and awkward. She kept coming for the ten rounds. I knew it was going to be that kind of fight. I knew I was going to be in the trenches.'

Wicklow People