Friday 15 November 2019

Taylor makes history in first women's title fight to headline UK show

Christina Linardatou at yesterday’s official weigh-in at the Manchester Arena. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Christina Linardatou at yesterday’s official weigh-in at the Manchester Arena. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Katie Taylor takes on Christina Linardatou at the Manchester Arena tonight as a women's title fight headlines a show in a major arena in the UK for the first time.

Taylor goes into the bout for the World Boxing Organising (WBO) super lightweight belt - also known as the light welterweight belt - which Linardatou has held since March, with a perfect record.

This is Taylor's 15th fight and she has an unblemished record, with six of her wins coming inside the distance.

Regardless of the result, Taylor will hold on to her WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine lightweight belts.

In June she became the first Irish boxer to be crowned an undisputed world champion since the pro sport splintered at administration level.

Previously, the last recognised undisputed Irish world champion was flyweight Rinty Monaghan in 1947.

Now the Bray fighter is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Steve Collins and Carl Frampton and become only the third Irish pro boxer to become a two-weight world champion.

Christina Linardatou at yesterday’s official weigh-in at the Manchester Arena. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Who is Christina Linardatou?

The 31-year-old runs a gym with their partner in Athens. She was born in the Dominican Republic - her father was a Greek sailor. But has lived in Greece since the age of ten. She only took up boxing at 22, but had been involved in sport since childhood.

Since turning professional in 2014 she has won 12 of her 13 fights - six inside the distance. Her only loss - a unanimous points' decision - was against Taylor's last opponent Delfine Persoon. She challenged the Belgian for her WBC world lightweight belt in 2016.

Linardatou is currently ranked as the fourth best super lightweight in the world by Boc Rec and 49th best pound for pound female pro boxer with Taylor rated as number one.

What channel is the fight on?

The fight will be shown free to air on Sky Sport Main Event and will also be streamed live on the DAZN network in America. Sky coverage begins at 8.0 with Taylor's fight at approximately 9.45.

What Katie says:

"I never thought I would be topping such a big bill. It is everything I dreamed about since I was a kid. It is absolutely huge for me to have the chance to make history and become a two-weight world champion.

"While I'm fighting at a different weight I haven't changed my training much. But this has been my longest-ever training camp before a fight and I've worked on building up my strength.

"This could be another gruelling fight like my last one. I probably should box a bit more. I definitely feel I'm better prepared for this kind of challenge having come through the Persoon fight."

What Linardatou says:

"The preparations have gone perfect. Swimming, uphill running and boxing up in the mountains. This is the most important fight of my career so far. I have had to prepare better than ever before and I've have done that.

"Everyone in boxing knows of Katie Taylor. She was an Olympic champion, a world champions. I have been waiting many years for this opportunity and this fight and I am going to make the most of it.

"The fight will be televised live in Greece. I would like boxing to have a higher profile in my country. I want my country to realise what boxing can do for everything. It should be one of the corner-stones of education, not just sport.

What the Bookies say:

Taylor is 1/40 to maintain her 100 per cent pro record and make it 15 wins on the spin while Linardatou is the 41/1 outsider. The draw is 25/1. Taylor is 4/11 to secure the win on points and 5/2 to win via stoppage.

What's next for Katie:

In the event of Katie losing, Linardatou is obliged to offer her a rematch under the terms of the fight contract but there is no reciprocal arrangement in place.

But if Taylor adds a fifth world belt to her collection and becomes a two-weight world champion, she is likely to have three mega fights in 2020 against seven-weight world champion Amanda Serrano, a re-match against Delfine Persoon and a clash against either the undisputed world welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus or a second bout against Jessica McCaskill to become the undisputed super lightweight champion.

Irish Independent

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