Thursday 17 January 2019

Katie Taylor makes weight at 134.2lbs before fight with undefeated Eva Wahlstrom

Katie Taylor following her WBA & IBF World Lightweight Championship bout with Kimberly Connor at The O2 Arena in London in July Pic: Sportsfile
Katie Taylor following her WBA & IBF World Lightweight Championship bout with Kimberly Connor at The O2 Arena in London in July Pic: Sportsfile

From Sean McGoldrick in Madison Square Garden

Two belt World champion Katie Taylor has successfully weighed in ahead of the third defence of her titles in New York's Madison Square Garden. The 32 year old Bray fighter tipped the scales at 134.2 lbs just inside the 135lb limit.

Her opponent Eva Wahlstrom also comfortably made the weight at 133.4, nearly a pound lighter than her opponent.

While the Finnish fighter has competed in the lightweight division during her amateur career, she has boxed in the weight division below in the pro ranks and is the current WBC super featherweight belt holder.

At tonight's weigh-in the pair faced each other briefly in the traditional pre-fight face-off. But the pair have known each other for 14 years, clashing on at least on six occasions and also sparring each other in Bray. So there was no personal animosity between them as evident by the fact that they shook hands and embraced before leaving the MGS stage.

Barring an unlikely draw, by the end of the ten round contest one of them will have tasted defeat for the first time in their professional career. As Katie Taylor put it so elegantly at the final press conference "Somebody's 0 has got to go." While the pair can't agree on how many times they met during their amateur careers the agree on all the results – a clean sweep for the Bray Bomber.

Regardless of the outcome, Wahlstrom's WBC belt is not on the line which means all the pressure is on the Irish fighter."This is really a case of 'nothing to lose, world to win'," said her manager Petri Paimander.

Oscar Da La Hoya's company Golden Boy company are promoting the show which is headlined by Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez who is also making his MSG debut.

The promoters are not hyping the Taylor-Wahlstrom fight partially because Taylor is managed by Matchroom. Instead Golden Boy are highlighting their own fighters.

It is the sixth last fight on a jam packed programme which begins on Saturday at 8pm Irish time. Katie is likely to be in the ring at around 11.30pm Irish time, which actually facilitates Sky Television who are showing the fight live in the UK and Ireland.

Obviously the spotlight is on Canelo, who is bidding to add the WBA super middleweight belt to his WBA and WBA middleweight World titles when he takes on defending champion Rocky Fielding from Liverpool. It is the Mexican first contest in his lucrative 11-fight, $365m contract with streaming service DAZN, which is the brain child of Eddie Hearn.

A typically flamboyant Da La Hoya opened the final press conference for the show by suggesting that 'pay per view' was dead in boxing. This is far from the case but this new project has exciting possibilities and Katie Taylor is being positioned to become the female face of DAZN.

The original plan for tonight's fight was a clash against WBC lightweight title holder Rose Volante which would have seen Taylor challenge for a third world belt in the lightweight class. However, the Brazilian wanted more time to prepare for the biggest challenge of her career and Wahlstrom stepped into the breach.

Wahlstrom is an inch taller than Taylor and is a more experienced fighter, boxing 173 rounds compared to Katie's 75 on the professional beat. She is rated as the best technical fighter that Taylor has faced in her pro career. But Taylor's 45 percent knock out rate compared to Wahlstrom's 13 percent is revealing.

Taylor's movement and in particular the speed and range of her shots are likely to see her win the contest, though the decision is likely to go to the judges.

There was late drama at the weigh-in when Canadian David Lemieux – who stopped Ireland's Spike O'Sullivan in the first round of his last contest in Las Vegas in October – was forced to withdraw from his scheduled fight with Tureano Johnson on the bill. He was hospitalised suffering from dehydration. In recent years he has struggled to make the middleweight limit and is unlikely to fight in the class ever again.

Katie Taylor v Eva Wahlstrom for the WBA and IBF world lightweight titles live from 11.00pm Saturday 15th December  on Sky Sports Main Event.

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