Monday 16 September 2019

Taylor eyes mega bouts in 2019 after stunning Garden show

Serrano top of wish list following crushing defeat of brave Wahlstrom

Katie Taylor salutes the crowd after her masterclass performance. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Katie Taylor salutes the crowd after her masterclass performance. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Seán McGoldrick

Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez might have topped the bill in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, but there was little debate about who turned in the wow performance in front of the 20,112 sell-out attendance.

Katie Taylor not only retained her WBA and IBF world lightweight titles with a shut-out 100-90 win, she further enhanced her burgeoning reputation with the depth of her performance.

Taylor punches Eva Wahlstrom. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Taylor punches Eva Wahlstrom. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Only for the fact that in women's professional boxing rounds last only two minutes, this one-sided fight would have ended inside the distance.

Stoppages

Taylor has always supported the idea of three-minute rounds and she suggested afterwards that it would be easier to achieve stoppages if this was the case.

"To stand there toe to toe, with the crowd here behind me was fantastic. I'd have loved the stoppage but they are hard to hard to get sometimes with the two-minute rounds. It would be a lot easier with three minute-rounds," she suggested.

The strongest case for stopping the contest came in the final round. By then Eva Wahlstrom was bleeding profusely from her forehead after an accidental clash of heads, but more worryingly also had a nasty cut on her left eye.

Taylor in action during the fight. Photo by Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing USA via Sportsfile
Taylor in action during the fight. Photo by Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing USA via Sportsfile

However, referee Danny Schiavone opted to allow the fight to continue even after Taylor landed at least 20 successive body punches as Wahlstrom literally clung to her.

For the Helsinki fighter, who retains her WBC super featherweight title despite the loss, it was a badge of honour to have gone the distance with Taylor, who is surely set to become the best pound-for-pound fighter in women's boxing in the not-too-distant future.

"I thought Katie was fantastic again. Every time she fights now the crowd seem to say, 'Wow, wasn't she incredible'," said Matchroom's Eddie Hearn.

"You know exactly what you are going to get every time she goes into the ring. It was another great performance as we move on to a big 2019."

Eva Wahlstrom fights Katie Taylor during their Lightweight title bout. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Eva Wahlstrom fights Katie Taylor during their Lightweight title bout. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

From his first meeting with Katie, her mother Bridget and manager Brian Peters in early autumn of 2016, Hearn recognised that the 2012 Olympic gold medallist was a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. He simply regards her as an extremely talented and committed boxer - her gender doesn't enter the equation.

One suspects that Oscar Da La Hoya, the chief executive of Golden Boy, who promoted Saturday's show, has yet to fully embrace women's professional boxing.

Granted, he did give her a slot on the mega show, but it made no make sense to have her fifth in running order particularly as only two of the contests ahead of her were world championship bouts.

Not that it mattered to Katie. But she was genuinely taken aback to hear that her extraordinary hand speed was being compared by experts to that of Sugar Ray Leonard's in his prime.

The fighters embrace after the fight. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
The fighters embrace after the fight. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Leonard was present co-commentating for DAZA who streamed the fight live in the US and elsewhere in the world and the comparison chuffed the Irish boxer.

"That's probably the biggest compliment I can get - being compared to Sugar Ray Leonard. He's one of my favourite fighters. I've watched a lot of his videos and my dream is to be as good as him."

Taylor again reiterated that her primary ambition for 2019 is to become the undisputed lightweight champion of the world, though she kept the pot boiling as regards a mega showdown against six-weight champ Amanda Serrano by declaring: "Obviously one of the biggest fights out there is (against) Amanda Serrano. It's a huge, huge fight. Let's get on with it."

Taylor paid tribute a warm tribute to her vanquished opponent.

"She's obviously a fantastic champion and a great, great fighter. I knew it was going to be a great showcase for women's boxing.

"It was such a privilege to fight here in Madison Square Garden in front of so many Irish people."

True to form, the Irish fans were chanting Olé, Olé, Olé before the end of the first round.

Haunting

The predictable decision to use the Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl haunting rendition of 'Fairytale of New York' as the tune for Katie's walk-on set the music for the rapturous reception she received.

Her main priority after the fight was to get back to Bray to see her niece and nephew - she hasn't had an break at home since she beat Victoria Noelia Bustos in Brooklyn in April.

But already Eddie Hearn and Brian Peters are planning her 2019 schedule.

First stop is the Lacouras Centre in Philadelphia on March 16 for a likely clash against Brazilian Rose Volante for her WBO lightweight belt.

"Rose Volante is the one we want," confirmed Hearn. "There are three fights we really want: Volante, (Delfine) Persoon (the WBC champion) and (Amanda) Serrano - they're the three I love her to have in 2019.

"I don't know what order yet but quite possible Volante will be next but we'll see."

It is likely that Katie Taylor's fight will be the co-main event on a show headlined by Philadelphia native Tevin Farmer, who comfortably retained his IBF super featherweight world title on Saturday night in MSG.

Taylor's record this year underlines the extraordinary dominance she exerts over opponents.

The four boxers she beat - Victoria Noelia Bustos, Kimberly Connor, Cindy Serrano and Eva Wahlstrom, all in world championship contests - had a combined professional record of 80 wins, six draws and just 12 losses, yet she swatted them all away.

She stopped Connor in the third round of their contest in London's O2 Arena whereas the other contests all went the distance which meant she fought 32 rounds in which judges had to turn in a score.

With three judges involved in each fight, 96 rounds were scored and Taylor won 92 of them.

Roll on 2019 is the message from the Taylor camp.

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