Friday 24 May 2019

Taylor has her sights set on world unity

Katie Taylor: ‘When I first discussed going pro with Brian (Peters) and Eddie (Hearn) the first thing I said to them was that I wanted to be the undisputed champion.’ Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Katie Taylor: ‘When I first discussed going pro with Brian (Peters) and Eddie (Hearn) the first thing I said to them was that I wanted to be the undisputed champion.’ Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Katie Taylor is cutting short her spring break with her family in Bray in order to begin preparations for a unification showdown against Belgian's Delfine Persoon, provisionally scheduled for June 1.

The contract for the fight - which will take place in New York's Madison Square Garden - will be sent to Persoon, the long-time WBC world lightweight champion, tomorrow. Bar any last-minute hitches the million-dollar-plus fight will be announced officially within the next ten days.

Less than an hour after her latest victory over Rose Volante on Friday night, Taylor was already looking forward to what will be the biggest fight so far in her remarkable career. She is the first Irish boxer to hold three world titles simultaneously since the four-belt system evolved.

Taylor is flying back to Ireland today for a seven-day break before returning to her training base in Vernon, Connecticut to begin a 10-week training camp to prepare for the clash against the veteran Belgian, who has held the WBC version of the lightweight title since 2013 and has only lost one of her 44 bouts.

"It is going to be the toughest fight of my career," Taylor said. "It's a big, big fight so I will have to have a long camp. But this is the fight I've always wanted.

"When I first discussed going pro with Brian (Peters) and Eddie (Hearn) the first thing I said to them was that I wanted to be the undisputed champion (of the world). So that has always been my goal. It would be absolutely historic; it would be above winning the Olympic gold medal for me."

While saying he was reluctant to reveal details before the contracts were signed, Matchroom boss Hearn said there was an agreement in place between the two camps that the fight would go ahead on the undercard of Anthony Joshua's US debut on June 1.

"Persoon is the fight that is available and when you get the chance to make an undisputed fight like that you really have to jump on it," he said.

"There is no perfect time for everybody but it just comes together and there seems to be a chance of us to do that fight on June 1. It never looked like it was possible before."

Hearn suggested that the attraction was not just the money on offer. Instead it was the once-in-a-lifetime chance to become the undisputed world champion in Madison Square Garden which had finally persuaded Persoon to abandon her preference for fighting in her native Belgium.

"It is very hard to turn down an opportunity like that," said Hearn. "And, of course, Katie is not going to turn it down. She wants that fight; she wants to be the undisputed champion because that will secure her professional legancy. While Katie was been mixing it with boxers at the top end, Persoon will be her toughest opponent yet.

"We have a deal in principle that they will fight on June 1. I didn't want to sign contracts until this fight was over. They will get one on Monday and if they are true to their word, which I believe they will be, it will all be announced in the next two weeks."

Hearn revealed that Taylor "told me off" at a recent meeting when he suggested that perhaps there was just another two or three years left in her career. "She said it was more like seven or eight years," he said.

However, for now all the focus will be on the 34-year-old Belgian, who works as a railway policewoman in her native country. "I'm told she is like a female Carl Froch," said Hearn. Taylor said Persoon punches non-stop and is an awkward opponent.

Taylor is also due to fight seven-belt world champion Amanda Serrano - possibly in September. "Serrano is contracted to fight Katie this year," said Hearn. But there are doubts in the Taylor camp as to whether Serrano will ultimately agree to put her reputation on the line against the Bray woman.

On the back of her 13th professional win and her sixth via knock-out, Taylor is now ranked the number one lightweight in the world by the reputable website BoxRec. She remains third, however, behind the undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus and Serrano in the rankings for the best pound-for-pound female fighter in the world.

Meanwhile, in the top-of-the-bill encounter on Friday night, Dublin's Jono Carroll embellished his reputation, though he endured a unanimous points loss to defending IBF world super-featherweight champion and local hero Tevin Farmer. Carroll fired an astonishing 1,227 shots during the 12-round encounter - the third highest ever recorded in the weight. But too few of them landed and Farmer's greater accuracy proved decisive, though he wasn't as much in control of the contest as he claimed afterwards.

London Olympic silver medallist John Joe Nevin had to wait until after midnight before getting into the ring against Andres Figueroa. But he comfortably outpointed the Columbian over six rounds in a lightweight contest to extend his unbeaten pro record to 12 fights. However, he has yet to beat anybody of real substance in the division.

Sunday Indo Sport

The Left Wing: Leinster's succession plan, Munster's missing piece and the art of contract negotiations

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport