Saturday 21 September 2019

Sanchez's late weight drama tips world title scales in Taylor's favour

Katie Taylor, left, and Anahi Sanchez after the weighing in. Photo: Sportsfile
Katie Taylor, left, and Anahi Sanchez after the weighing in. Photo: Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Almost a year to the day since Katie Taylor turned professional, the Bray lightweight bids to land the WBA world title in Cardiff's Principality Stadium tonight (at around 8.0) when she takes on former title holder Anahi Esther Sanchez from Argentina.

Sanchez was forced to forfeit the belt after twice failing to make the 9st 9lb weight limit. She was one pound overweight at the official weigh-in and when she returned to the scales two hours later she was still a half-pound over the limit.

Under WBA rules, Taylor will still secure the belt provided she wins the fight - but the title will remain vacant if Sanchez is victorious.

The Bray lightweight - who weighed in at 9st 8.5lb - was unmoved by the weight drama.

"I'm completely focused on my performance. My mind is purely on the fight," she said.

Taylor (31) is seeking a world belt in her seventh professional fight. By way of contrast, it was only in his 20th pro fight that Muhammad Ali won the heavyweight title in 1963.

Taylor has insisted that it will be the biggest night of her career.

"I'm so excited about it. Ever since I turned pro, I wanted to fight for a world title. This is the sort of fight that will elevate women's boxing to new heights."

But it's questionable whether it is Taylor's biggest challenge. According to the bookies the outcome is a foregone conclusion with the unbeaten Taylor a 1/40 shot to follow in the footsteps of fellow Irish boxers Deirdre Gogarty and Christina McMahon and win a world professional belt.

On paper the fight, which will be beamed live across the United States on the Showtime network, is potentially Taylor's most difficult contest, though how motivated Sanchez will be remains a moot point.

Still, women's professional boxing matters in Sanchez's native country and tonight's contest will be shown live in Argentina.

She is one of 11 Argentine female fighters who hold a world professional belt.

A former world super-featherweight title holder, Sanchez won the lightweight belt in September with a sixth-round TKO win over compatriot Cecilia Sofia Mena.

Even though she is five years younger than Taylor, Sanchez is a more experienced pro fighter.

This will be her 20th fight and she has boxed 83 competitive rounds, compared to 31 for Taylor who has never had to go beyond the seventh stanza.

Taylor's transition to a pro-boxing style is still a work in progress.

Such is her extraordinary work-rate, she is still inclined to land punches in bunches rather than look for the knock-out shot.

But her hand speed is extraordinary and Sanchez, whose two career defeats came in her only other contests on this side of the Atlantic, hasn't previously faced a boxer of Taylor's calibre.

  • Katie Taylor v Anahi Esther Sanchez, Live, Sky Sports Box Office, 6.0

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport