Sunday 16 December 2018

Taylor focused as Sanchez forfeits title


Taylor: "This is the biggest night of my career.” Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Seán McGoldrick

Katie Taylor is poised to secure the WBA world lightweight belt tonight in Cardiff in the wake of the failure of the defending title holder Anahi Esther Sanchez to make the 135lb limit.

At the official weigh-in, the Argentinean was one pound overweight and was still half a pound too heavy when she stepped on the scales again two hours later.

As a result, she automatically forfeited the belt. However, under World Boxing Association rules, the Bray lightweight has to win tonight's fight to be crowned the new world champion.

Taylor was philosophical about the issue. "I've completely focused on my performance. My mind is purely on the fight. This is the biggest night of my career."

Nonetheless, the hullabaloo has detracted from the contest which is on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua v Carlos Takam world heavyweight title fight before an anticipated sell-out attendance of 74,000 in Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

Joshua and Taylor are both managed by Eddie Hearn's Matchroom organisation and the pair are now linked in promotional terms with both likely to box on the same show in the US next year.

However, there is a possibility that if Taylor wins, the first defence of her title will take place in Dublin next spring and the prospect of unifying the lightweight division or moving up to super-lightweight is also a live option. Already the winner of five world titles as an amateur, this is only Taylor's seventh fight in the paid ranks.

Under the tutelage of Connecticut-based trainer Ross Enamait, Taylor has tweaked her style to suit the pro game. More importantly, she has regained her confidence after a bruising 2016 in which she suffered defeats in the Olympic qualifying tournament and the World Championships before surrendering her Olympic title in her first fight in Rio.

Taylor has insisted that it will be the biggest night of her career. "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 whether it is Taylor's biggest challenge is debatable. She is a 1/40 shot to follow Irish boxers, Deirdre Gogarty and Christina McMahon, and win a world professional belt.

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