Tuesday 28 January 2020

ICYMI: Katie Taylor on her dad's absence, the end of her five year unbeaten run and McGregor's 'retirement'

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

It says a lot about Katie Taylor's unbroken streak of excellence that news of her defeat in an Olympic qualifying tournament last week generated far more interest and publicity than if she had won and booked her place at the Rio games.

Before losing the bout in Turkey, Taylor had gone five years without a defeat and most fans probably assumed the Bray boxer was simply unbeatable. The defeat to rival Yana Alekseevna means that Taylor needs to make the semi-finals of next month's World Championships in Kazakhstan in order to qualify for the Olympics, or else she will be dangerously relying on other results going her way.

It was the first big event Taylor fought since it was announced her dad Pete would no longer be in her corner. Despite having highly-vaunted coach Zaur Antia by her side, many people still thought that the absence of her father proved crucial in her defeat.

Taylor insists that was not the case, while also admitting that she doesn't know if he will return in time for the upcoming Olympic Games, presuming she qualifies.

"I don't know you'll have to ask him that question," Taylor replied when asked whether her dad will be back in her corner for Rio.

"I've had fights without my dad [before] so the last few months I've prepared perfectly. The coaches have been phenomenal and I couldn't ask for anything more from them. People are looking at that [her dad's absence] because I lost. Nothing has changed over the last few months and I believe I am better than I've ever been.

"He was looking at the fight and supporting me as well. I was on the phone to him after the fight and and I'm on the phone to him in general anyway. Just because he isn't in my corner doesn't mean he isn't there to support me."

With her Olympic place now in jeopardy, it appears Taylor has rethought her strategy somewhat. Having previously eschewed analysing her opponents in favour of fine-tuning her own game, she admitted that she is now starting to study her rivals' tendencies for areas of weakness.

But despite losing to Alekseevna, Taylor isn't just focusing on her as someone she must stop going forward. She was also quick to rubbish any suggestion that the end of her five-year unbeaten run so close to the games could be a big blow to her confidence.

The opposite, in fact, as Taylor is envisaging another long stretch of dominance going forward.

"It wouldn't knock my confidence at all really," she said.

"The last few times I boxed that girl they have been very similar fights. Against top quality boxers the difference between winning and losing is very small. I went five years unbeaten and I feel I could go another five years unbeaten. This is the start of another five year unbeaten run hopefully.

"I think it is a bad idea to focus on one particular fighter because there are so many different fighters in a competition who can be threats to you. She is one of them but there are four or five different girls who are outstanding."

Away from the ring, Taylor also talked about the apparent retirement of MMA star Conor McGregor, something that stunned her as much as everyone else.

"I was shocked when I heard about it.," she said.

"He is in his prime and I don't know whether to take it seriously or not. I don't believe it is the last time we'll see him in the Octagon but he has had a great career and made a lot of money so he can retire if he wants to."

Despite the 'retirement' of one star fighter, Taylor isn't planning on stepping away from the sport any time soon.

"I haven't thought about it too much to be honest but I feel like I have plenty more years left in me. You can't box forever but for the time being I'm very much focused on these Olympics."

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