Tuesday 17 September 2019

Taylor faces battles outside the ring

Katie Taylor. Photo: Sportsfile
Katie Taylor. Photo: Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Junior's Restaurant is a Brooklyn institution. Shortly after midnight last Saturday night Katie Taylor walked into the deli which was jammed with mostly African-American customers.

They rose in unison to applaud the Irish boxer, who hours early unified the World lightweight belts a few blocks away in the Barclays Center.

Not realising that she was the subject of the standing ovation, the ever modest Taylor looked over her shoulder to see who the customers were clapping.

For her manager Brian Peters and promoter Eddie Hearn, it was yet another sign that the 2012 Olympic gold medallist can become the poster girl for women's professional boxing in the US.

Earlier, legendary boxing Master of Ceremonies Michael Buffer, together with HBO's veteran boxing presenter Jim Lampley and co-presenter Roy Jones Jr, a former six-time World champion across four weight divisions, were on their feet leading a standing ovation as Taylor and her brave opponent Victoria Noelia Bustos engaged in a two-minute slugfest in the last round of their World title fight.

Overall the contest was one-sided; two judges, Ron McNair and Waleska Roldan, had Taylor winning nine of the ten rounds, while Tony Paolillo gave Bustos two rounds.

Still, it was by far the most entertaining fight on the card, easily surpassing the chief support bout - a forgettable heavyweight joist between Jarrell 'Big Baby' Miller and Johann Duhaupas.

But together with the top of the bill middleweight contest featuring local hero Daniel Jacobs, it was shown live on the HBO network. One of the first visitors to Taylor's dressing room afterwards was Peter Nelson, executive vice president of HBO sport.

He was the subject of plenty of light-hearted ribbing from both Taylor and her manager Brian Peters for his decision to show a mere ten seconds of her fight on TV. But after nine professional fights Taylor is beginning to grasp how much boxing politics will impinge on her career from now on. Take the HBO fiasco, for example.

It appears they had an outstanding contract with Cecelia Braekhus that her welterweight contest in the early hours of this morning in Carson, California would be the first women's pro boxing bout they would feature.

Regardless of this hiccup, the Taylor camp believe that her future destiny lies in the US, which is the primary reason why two of her scheduled three fights during the remainder of 2018 will be staged in America.

A fight in Dublin is off the agenda for the foreseeable future. Security concerns, which would hike up the cost of staging the show due to increased insurance premiums and security costs, as well as the fact that a fight in Dublin would not be shown live in the US due to the time difference are the primary reasons why Taylor will focus on the States.

Taylor, together with unified World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, will spearhead the campaign by Eddie Hearn's Matchroom organisation to break the lucrative US market. A deal - reported to be with Amazon Prime - which is due to be announced next week will kick-start the project.

"It's going to be ground-breaking and if it works it's going to be something very, very special," according to Peters. It is expected that Amazon Prime will stream fights live to paid subscribers.

Meanwhile, Taylor's first priority in the ring is to unify the lightweight belts and emulate the achievement of Clare born Mike McTigue Ireland's only linear world champion. He held the light heavyweight belt between 1923 and 1925.

For Taylor, securing the remaining WBO and WBC belts in the 135lb division is by no means straightforward. She may not have a chance to realise her dream until next spring.

"I'd love to unify the division, that's my ambition. I'm not sure if it's going to happen this year or not. There's the politics of the whole thing, as well," she acknowledges.

While no contracts have been signed it is virtually certain that Taylor's next fight will be in London in early July. Her preferred opponent is the WBO title holder 35-year old Rose Volante from Brazil.

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