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Taylor hoping her Halloween history will repeat itself

 

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Katie Taylor. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Katie Taylor. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Katie Taylor. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Katie Taylor swapped her football boots for boxing gloves at short notice on this day almost two decades ago en route to establishing a legend.

The unified lightweight pro champion will be aiming to further enhance that legend in Manchester on Saturday when she bids to become a two-weight World champion at the expense of Christina Lindaratou in a WBO super-lightweight showdown.

On Halloween night in 2001, Taylor had just returned from international football duty with Ireland and was eager to impress in one of the first three IABA sanctioned female bouts at Dublin's National Stadium.

Then just 15, the Bray orthodox beat Belfast's Allana Murphy 23-12 under the old computer scoring system on a male international card also featuring Andy Lee.

"It was Katie's first fight at the Stadium and she was really up for it," recalls her dad and former coach Pete Taylor. "She had just come back from football in Switzerland and she had not been training (for boxing).

"But she performed very well and won the Best Boxer Award. I think that night was the start of female boxing in Ireland."

Sadie Duffy, a top international ref and judge, was there.

"It was a momentous night for women's boxing," said Duffy. "Katie had that something special."

Anna Moore recollects that Taylor and Murphy received an encouraging reception before the fight and an even bigger one after they'd finished.

"Both girls got a fantastic response as they boxed brilliantly. The reaction was like 'wow if this is women's boxing, bring it on'," said Moore, a frequent Irish team manager.

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Taylor progressed to win 160 of her 170 of her amateur bouts and 18 major titles, including Ireland's only Olympic gold in any sport this century.

But Pete Taylor reckons her opponent will pack a punch.

"From what I've seen of her she was a big right hand," he noted. "I think that once Katie moves to her right-hand side and keeps her left hand up she'll win the bout easily enough. Just don't get involved in a war."

Meanwhile, Taylor's fellow Olympic champion Michael Carruth recently called on the 33-year-old and Paddy Barnes to quit sooner rather than later.

"She's at the absolute top, where can you go from there. You can't go anywhere, only down," said Carruth who won 18 of his 21 fights in the paid ranks.

Massive

That advice is likely to go unheeded for now with Taylor remarking she has a massive twelve months ahead and lucrative fights against Cecilia Braekhus and Amanda Serrano touted.

But when the final bell tolls on a truly remarkable career perhaps her greatest legacy will the explosion in women's boxing in Ireland she has generated.

Hundreds of female fighters entered the Girl 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Nationals at the Stadium earlier this year in an underage competition which has evolved into one of the biggest tournaments on the IABA domestic calendar.

There are no purses or prizes for guessing who the vast majority of the young athletes cite as their inspiration.

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