Tuesday 19 March 2019

Pressure on Katie to deliver in big-money Philadelphia showdown

The 34-year old is the fifth-ranked lightweight in the world and is unbeaten in her 14 professional fights. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
The 34-year old is the fifth-ranked lightweight in the world and is unbeaten in her 14 professional fights. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

The extent to which Katie Taylor has transformed women's professional boxing is illustrated by the case of Brazilian Rose Volante, who faces the Bray fighter in a lightweight unification world title fight at the Liacouras Centre in Philadelphia tomorrow night.

The 34-year old is the fifth-ranked lightweight in the world and is unbeaten in her 14 professional fights.

But she would have remained an anonymous figure in her native country and earned little money from boxing had Taylor not opted to turn pro after her disappointment at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Taylor confessed recently that in the early days of her professional career she rarely asked how much she was fighting for before bouts and even now she is not that interested in the financial side of the sport.

But her opponents know her value.

And now that Taylor has become the female face of DAZN, the streaming TV service which has already invested mega money to acquire the services of three of the world's star male boxers - Anthony Joshua, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin - their demands have increased.

Prestigious

Even though the WBO 'pink' belt has traditionally been regarded as the least prestigious of the four world titles, Volante's advisors extracted their pound of flesh from Matchroom and DAZN before agreeing to face the unbeaten Taylor.

Volante's record suggests that aside from fighting outside Brazil only once, the majority of her opponents have been woefully weak.

Matchroom originally thought they had her secured for Taylor's last fight in December in Madison Square Garden. But when the deal fell through, Taylor fought WBC super-featherweight champion Eva Wahlstrom from Finland.

Taylor's manager Brian Peters then called a press conference the following week at which it was expected that Volante would be confirmed as Taylor's next opponent for St Patrick's weekend.

Again the Volante camp demurred, even though they had reportedly been offered a six-figure sum.

Ultimately the deal was done - one assumes the purse strings were loosened a bit further which means that Volante could earn in excess of $100,000 (€88,000) tomorrow night. Taylor could earn as much as $750,000 (€662,000).

Most of the pressure is on Taylor. She is the overwhelming favourite and is risking her two world belts against an opponent who has a decent right hand and has fought 69 rounds of championship boxing without being put on the deck.

Still, Taylor will be expected to win, though the fight may go the standard 10 rounds.

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