Wednesday 26 June 2019

Katie Taylor wants Persoon rematch but US fight against seven-belt world champion Amanda Serrano up next

Katie Taylor. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Katie Taylor. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Sean McGoldrick

Newly-crowned undisputed world lightweight champion Katie Taylor is set to headline her first boxing show in the US in September or October.

But she won’t be facing Delfine Persoon, whom she narrowly defeated last weekend, in her first defence of all four world belts.

Instead, she is set to challenge seven-belt world champion Amanda Serrano in the 5,000-seater Hulu Theatre which is situated inside the Madison Square Garden complex in New York.

"The deal is done, the purse is agreed, she has signed. She is a very good fighter too," according to Taylor’s manager Brian Peters, speaking yesterday at a homecoming press conference for the Bray fighter.

An offer from Persoon’s manager Filiep Tampere for an immediate rematch against Taylor in Belgium, with a €300,000 purse on offer, was flatly rejected by the Taylor camp.

Peters, however, agreed that a rematch against the Belgian was "inevitable". But she will probably have to wait at least 12 months before she gets another chance, though Taylor stressed that she does want a rematch against Persoon.

"This could potentially be a brilliant rivalry. It is exactly what women’s boxing needs. I think my stock has definitely gone up since that fight," said Taylor.

"It was a Fight of the Year contender and it’s a fight people want to see again. I can’t wait for the rematch. It’s going to be a mega-fight, similar to the likes of (Gennady) Golovkin and Canelo (Alvarez) and those great fights," she suggested.

Katie Taylor is announced victorious by referee Sparkle Lee after her Undisputed Female World Lightweight Championship fight with Delfine Persoon at Madison Square Garden in New York, USA. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Katie Taylor is announced victorious by referee Sparkle Lee after her Undisputed Female World Lightweight Championship fight with Delfine Persoon at Madison Square Garden in New York, USA. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The fight could come sooner than expected – although alternatively it might never happen. In the murky world of professional boxing, things can change overnight.

For starters, it's by no means certain that Serrano will take the Taylor fight.

Even though she has repeatedly claimed she wants to challenge Taylor, who fought her older sister last year as part of the deal, there are still lingering questions over whether she will get in the ring against Taylor. The 30-year-old Puerto Rican fighter could opt to quit boxing and continue her career in MMA.

The sticking point could be a clause in the fight contract which stipulates that both boxers must enrol in the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association’s (VADA) testing programme.

Peters confirmed that all of Taylor’s future opponents – including Persoon — must enrol in the programme which means they can be randomly drug tested at any time.

Taylor and Persoon both provided blood and urine samples after last weekend’s fight.

It is understood that the Taylor camp insisted on the tests when they discovered that the Belgian fighter was being treated for exercise-induced asthma.

According to Persoon, due to a change in the world anti-doping regulations five years ago, she no longer requires a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) to use an inhaler to treat her condition.

In April, Persoon was cleared after missing a drugs test in October 2018. She was visited at home by a tester on the morning of October 28 but had just gone to the bathroom and was unable to urinate.

The tester accompanied Persoon to training and then on to her police station, but eventually left as the boxer, who is a member of the Belgian Federal Police, had to go on a surveillance mission.

She was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Flemish Doping Court, who accepted her explanation for failing to provide a urine sample.

There was surprise in boxing circles at the presence of a medical doctor, Maarten Meirhaeghe, who is associated with the Belgian pro cycling team Lotto Soudal, in the Persoon backroom team in New York for the fight.

Taylor acknowledged yesterday that her own performance on Saturday was slightly below-par. She joked that her approach gave her corner a nervous breakdown.

"It's my personality sometimes that I get caught in a fight. I probably have too much of a heart at times where I should be boxing on the outside.

"I do love a good tear-up. I think one of the most enjoyable parts of boxing is standing there and trading punches. I definitely do need to be more disciplined at times. But I’m getting better at it. I do want to enjoy my boxing sometimes."

While Taylor said she would love to earn as much as the male stars in boxing, she revealed she is earning much more than she ever imagined when she decided to turn pro in 2016, following the Olympic Games in Rio.

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