World champion Katie Taylor and her opponent Natasha Jonas have successfully weighed in ahead of their showdown in the Manchester Arena tomorrow night.
Taylor who is aiming to keep her WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO and Ring magazine belts tipped the scales at 134 pounds and eight ounces while Jonas who has a 9-1-1 professional record was one ounce lighter.
So, the stage is set for a clash where Taylor has everything to lose while the underdog Jonas, already guaranteed the biggest pay cheque of her career, can become an undisputed World champion and earned an even more lucrative rematch against the Bray fighter if she upsets the odds.
Former Irish Head coach Billy Walsh is backing Taylor to make it 18 professional wins on the spin.
The Bray fighter has been a pioneering figure in both women’s amateur and professional boxing according to the Wexford native who is now Head Coach of Boxing USA.
Walsh had a ringside view of Taylor’s progress through the amateur ranks and continues to track her professional career.
Speaking on ‘Off the Ball’ Walsh said: ‘After she had won her fifth World title and sixth European title, I remember saying we would never see another boxer like her in my lifetime.
‘Now I am saying it again in terms of what she has achieved so far in her professional career. We are never going to see someone dominate professional boxing like Katie Taylor has. She has put women’s boxing on the map. Without her it would be years behind.”
Walsh recalled how Taylor wooed then then President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge during an exhibition fight held during the 2007 men’s World amateur championships in Chicago.
Taylor stopped three-time Pan American champion Katie Dunne from Canada in the first round.
“When they (IOC members) saw the quality and the standard of her performance they had to have girls boxing at the London Olympics.
“She is responsible for a lot of stuff in women’s boxing and bringing it to where it is now. I think we should cherish every moment of this lady.
“She is now in her mid-thirties and I don’t know how many years she had left to continue fighting or how much more she wants to achieve.
“We’ve got to stand and take a bow to this lady because she has put Ireland and the sport of women’s boxing on the map.”
Walsh expects Taylor will repeat her Olympic quarter-final victory over Natasha Jonas when they meet on Saturday night.
He believes that Jonas has never got over that 2012 defeat.
“I speak regularly with the GB coaching team at competitions and I often asked them about her. They said she was never the same after Katie beat her.
“She was fighting in her home country and obviously hoping to win the gold medal like a couple of other GB boxers. It was a close fight and it was very, very tricky. Katie managed to pull out the performance and did enough to win it.
“In the nine years since that fight both have improved, particularly Katie whose work rate and intensity is phenomenal. The quality of her punching is better too.
“From what I’ve seen of Jonas she is still very much the same but obviously she is trying to land more punches. I think the big thing that she has and that is going against Katie is that most orthodox boxers don’t like fighting a southpaw.
“I think that’s why Katie struggled against her nine years ago. I’m sure she has figured out how to work confidently against a southpaw. Look at Jonas’ record she has been stopped by a girl who Katie beat.
“She hasn’t faced the quality of boxer that Kate has. All things look in favour of Katie. But there is an extra dimension in this fight because this girl (Jonas) has a chip on her shoulder from nine years ago.
“She feels had she beaten Katie she might have won the gold medal which would have changed her fortunes forever,” said Walsh who believes Taylor will prevail in what should prove to be a fascinating contest.
It used to be that I didn't really care about women's boxing but now I'm more interested than ever and the sport seems to be on an unrelenting upward trajectory which is great to see.