Monday 11 December 2017

Kenneth Egan: Pro move can pay off for Katie

Katie Taylor Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE
Katie Taylor Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Kenneth Egan

When Katie Taylor didn't get the rub of the green with the decision in Rio, I felt she would do one of two things - it was either going to be retirement or go professional.

Even if she'd won gold in Rio, I think she'd still be going pro at this stage; it was her obvious option.

Staying on to try and win gold in Tokyo 2020 would have been a massive risk. She's 30 and the other girls were getting better and catching up on her.

She's gone with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom in England and I hear she got a good offer. Hearn more or less has professional boxing sewn up in England because he has all the top fighters in his stable and has the link with Sky Sports, which I'm sure was a massive pull for Katie.

She's a super-fit athlete but there will be adjustments physically and mentally.

She's been fighting four two-minute rounds. The pro game is three-minute rounds and a lot more of them. She'll probably start with a fight of four three-minute rounds and gradually work her way up from six, to eight, to 10 rounds. It's only 12 rounds for world title fights but either way she'll be in the ring a lot more which means getting hit a lot more.

Even her hands will be different. It's really small gloves, your hands are wrapped like plaster of Paris, so when she's getting hit she's going to feel it more.

Her pace will have to slow down. The pro game is a lot slower, it's like a marathon, not a sprint.

The headguards will be coming off too. She'll be getting in now with boxers who aren't as talented as her but could clash heads and be dirty fighters. The idea in professional boxing is 'win at any cost'. If you haven't the talent you rough up your opponent.

Is she too old at 30? Only time will tell but I don't think the technical standard of women's professional boxing is up to Katie's level.

She has so much experience and success and talent that I wouldn't worry about her in the ring. She'll treat it exactly the same and adjust her training.

We don't know yet who's going to coach her but presume she's moving to England. Who she fights and how she builds her profile, these are the other big unknowns.

She's not like a normal fighter turning pro, who'd need eight-ten fights before they'd get anywhere near a world title fight. Her talent and her profile means she'll need less than a handful of fights to get to that stage. The question I'd ask is who's going to fight her? What kind of opponents can they get for her?

Anyone can turn professional in boxing. The men's game is full of journeymen who'll do the few rounds to get paid. It's littered with underachievers and average boxers and women's boxing doesn't have the same numbers or pulling power as men's.

Eddie Hearn probably jumped at the chance to sign Katie, given her talent and achievements but when a promoter signs a boxer they do it for a certain amount of money and want to get that money back.

I don't know if Katie has the ability to fill a stadium or big arena yet. She'll have to build up her profile in England and probably here too, and will be fighting on undercards for a while.

Headliner

She's naturally a very private person and the pro game will challenge that. It's a business and she'll have to sell herself now. Brian Peters is going to manage her and he always puts on good shows but I'd say it will be a while before they risk putting her as a headliner because people would want a 10-rounder or a world title fight, and that probably won't happen for a year.

America could be interesting. Claressa Shields, the American who won Olympic gold in London and Rio, also went pro this week which will boost the women's game over there.

When I first heard about Katie turning professional, I remembered that Holly Holm, who beat Ronda Rousey in the UFC, was a world champion boxer at welterweight, and, at one point, said she wanted to fight Katie.

Hearn could be looking at that at some stage. If he could get those two into a ring together in a year's time that'd be a cracking fight.

That would be real box-office stuff and could be much more likely to happen than a McGregor-Mayweather one!

Irish Independent

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