Monday 21 May 2018

'It was a toss of a coin between Ireland and America' - Katie Taylor edging closer to homecoming fight

Katie Taylor Pic: Sportsfile
Katie Taylor Pic: Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Katie Taylor will return to the ring for the first time in 2018 on Saturday night and her manager Brian Peters has told Independent.ie that this weekend’s fight could have been staged in Dublin.

New York’s Barclays Centre will provide the stage as Taylor attempts to add the IBF lightweight title to her WBC belt when she takes on defending champion Victoria Noelia Bustos, with Peters confirming an eagerness to raise her profile in America was a decisive factor in the decision to return to the arena for the second time in Katie’s professional career.

Taylor became a world champion in just her seventh professional fight in Cardiff last October and successfully defended the belt less than two months later as she topped the bill on a show in London, with Peters telling us the Dublin homecoming fight will be inked into the diary soon.

"We were close to a Dublin fight," he told us.

"There was a lot of things going on with American TV. HBO and Showtime are in the mix over there and Eddie is keen to introduce her to different markets.

"It was a toss of a coin between Ireland and America this time, but Katie is already a superstar in Ireland and her profile is rising in the UK thanks to Sky and her promoter Eddie Hearn, so the plan now is to try and take her to the American audience. We are hoping Katie steals the show this weekend and it is all about getting exposure in America.

"A fight in Dublin will happen, but we want to time it right. We want all the world title belts, we want to go home and let Katie fight in front of a home crowd and when it happens, it will be a massive event."

Bustos has the potential to be the most challenging opponent of Taylor professional career, as she looks to build on her thrilling performance against the gritty American Jessica McCaskill in December.

Yet Peters suggests Taylor’s single-minded approach to her fights means she pays little or no attention to opponents before she steps in the ring, as her burning self-belief is all she needs to emerge victorious.

"Her trainer (Ross Enamait) will look at the opponent and so will I, but Katie doesn’t really care," continues Peters. "She just loves the challenge and believes she will beat anyone put in front of her. That is the way she has always been.

"Katie is never cocky, but she loves going into every fight as the favourite. She revels in that position and that is not the way every sports person feels.

"You look at the last fight against Jessica McCaskill. I wasn’t sure if she was trying too hard to display her boxing skills in that fight and show the world how great she is. Katie abandoned her boxing skills to a point at times and you ask yourself why trade punches with a girl who clearly had some power, but she just doesn’t believe she can be beaten.

"Katie feels the pressure to perform and that may be part of the reason why we saw such a great fight in November and the viewing figures and reaction from the McCaskill fight were very positive. People are enjoying watching this story unfold and when you see Katie fighting, it is hard not to be drawn into what she does as she is a very special athlete.

"We are expecting another tough fight this weekend. They say Bustos not a threat to Katie because she lacks punching power, but she is a very experienced fighter and has been a world champion for a long time, so we need to give her the respect she is due.

"We know this could be a tough fight and the preparation Katie has put into this fight shows that she is expecting a real battle. She has been over there in Vernon, Connecticut training by herself and that is not easy. Being away from home, dedicating your life to one date in the diary, it is not easy. It is tough going. To have that single mindedness, that dedication, after all she has achieved is amazing.

"When you are dealing with Katie Taylor, your expectations are pretty high, but she has lived up to those and a little bit more in 2017. Now we are looking for more in 2018."

Peters also dismissed rumours suggesting Conor McGregor may be walking Taylor to the ring at the Barclays Centre this weekend, as he insisted that kind of hype is not what Katie enjoys.

"There are a few stories going around that Conor McGregor will be walking us into the ring this weekend, but that won’t be happening," he added.

"There are no big entourages with Katie. We are a tight team and like it that way. She won’t be changing her ways for anyone."

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