Monday 19 March 2018

Taylor enjoys comfortable start in professional ranks

Katie Taylor lands a left to the head of Karina Kopinska during their super-featherweight fight at Wembley Arena. Photo: Stephen McCarthy
Katie Taylor lands a left to the head of Karina Kopinska during their super-featherweight fight at Wembley Arena. Photo: Stephen McCarthy

Bernard O'Neill

Katie Taylor stopped Poland's Karina Kopinska to claim victory on her professional debut in the city of her greatest triumph at Wembley Arena last night.

The London 2012 Olympic champion, fighting for the first time without the mandatory head guard for women in the amateur ranks and with American coach Ross Enamait, won by TKO in the third round.

Working fluently from head to body from the first round and using her left as the triggering mechanism for big right hooks, Taylor repeatedly detonated combinations against her outclassed opponent in rounds one and two.

It was all over 58 seconds into round three, after the referee called a half with Kopinska pinned in the corner. "It's a massive privilege to be here and this is obviously a huge night for women's boxing. I would like to thank all the supporters. I think I've been training so hard and I would like to thank my coach Ross for getting me in fantastic shape," said Taylor.

"I think I can definitely be fast-tracked (to a world title). I've got big dreams and big hopes to dominate in this game and this is the start of an incredible journey, I hope. There's still so much greatness ahead of me."

Last night marked a return to winning ways - albeit in another code - for the Bray woman who lost her Olympic and World lightweight titles in the ring this year. She also, because she turned pro, relinquished her European crown.

Russia claimed the vacant belt last Wednesday in the 60kg final in Bulgaria, courtesy of Daria Abramova's win over Mira Potkonen. who beat Taylor at the Rio Olympics, Taylor's last amateur fight in a career in which she won 18 major titles.

Next up for the Wicklow orthodox is on the undercard of Anthony Joshua's IBF World heavyweight title defence against Eric Molina. Her opponent will named in Manchester on December 10.

Joshua, like Taylor a London 2012 champion, wants to see her win a world title: "I just hope she can go on and fulfil her destiny," he said. While Taylor could fight again early in the New Year, her promoter Eddie Hearn is lining up New York's Madison Square Garden on the Gennady Golovkin versus Danny Jacobs, touted for March, undercard.

"It looks like we're set for March 18 at Madison Square Garden after discussions with Tom Loeffler (Golovkin's promoter). It's a huge opportunity for Katie," said Hearn in Dublin last week.

If Taylor, managed by Brian Peters, does fight at the Garden on March 18 it will be 24 hours after Michael Conlan makes his pro debut at the famed Manhattan venue.

Taylor and Conlan are the only two Irish boxers to claim elite amateur world titles since the inaugural World Championships for men in Cuba in 1974 and for women in the USA in 2001.

Russian southpaw Sofya Ochigava, who sparred with Taylor in Dublin before the Rio Olympics, could also be on the horizon for the Irishwoman. Ochigava has also turned pro and has won her first two fights.

"If we did fight again down the line it would be a huge event for women's boxing," said Taylor of the opponent she beat in the 2011 and 2012 European, World and Olympic finals.

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