Monday 20 May 2019

'The road to undisputed is still on' - Katie Taylor's eyes firmly fixed on Delfine Persoon and fourth world title belt

Katie Taylor celebrates in her dressing room with her coach Ross Enamait
Katie Taylor celebrates in her dressing room with her coach Ross Enamait

Sean McGoldrick in Philadelphia

While Katie Taylor produced a five-star performance to become a three-belt World champion in Philadelphia, she revealed afterwards that she felt the weight of expectation on her shoulders before stepping into the ring in the Liacouras Center.

"This was a great stepping stone for me. There was a lot of talk about big fights for the last few months but I knew I had to get over this fight first.

"There was a lot of pressure on me tonight. To actually overcome that pressure, those nerves, is perfect preparation for those kind of fights coming up," said Taylor, whose bruised face bore testimony to the kind of battle she had faced in her 13th professional bout.

Though the defending WBO champion Rose Volante was ultimately outclassed by the Bray pugilist, there was no doubting her commitment, bravery or resilience. She didn't travel from Brazil just to collect the biggest purse of her career – she wanted to earn it.

She burst into tears when MC Michael Buffer proclaimed Taylor as the new WBA, IBF and WBO champion but in a brief exchange with Taylor thanked her for the fight and described her as a "great champion".

Meanwhile, Taylor can now look forward to fulfilling her long stated ambition of becoming an undisputed world champion with her next contest, a unification clash against the WBC title holder Delfine Persoon provisionally pencilled in for Madison Square Garden on June 1.

"The June 1st is perfect for me," added Taylor. "The road to undisputed is still on. Delfine Persoon is the one I want next, and the Anthony Joshua undercard would be absolutely perfect."

Achieving a knock-out victory – the sixth of her career – in the 11th was "the icing on the cake" according to Taylor.

Referee Benjy Esteves stepped in after one minute and forty seconds of the penultimate round to bring proceedings to a halt after Volante had almost certainly broken her nose in a clash of heads with Taylor.

But according to Taylor's manager Brian Peters, the fight commissioner had been urging the referee to stop the fight earlier as the Brazilian was repeatedly being caught by Taylor's devastating left hooks to the body.

Taylor had expected Volante would wear her pride on her sleeve and had prepared accordingly.

"I knew all along she was going to come to fight. She is a very proud champion. She was everything I expected. I think she definitely came to fight and that got the best out of me as well.

"I don't know whether it was the toughest fight of my career. I guess all the fights are tough. She definitely had a bit of pop in her right hand early on for sure.

"It was the icing on the cake to get the stoppage at the end. I knew she was on her way out and sometimes it is very, very tough to stop these opponents at this level but definitely it was great to get the early stoppage."

Taylor flies home to Ireland tonight for a week long visit to her home in Bray. But she will be returning to her training camp in Connecticut next Sunday to prepare for her showdown against Belgian Delfine Persoon on June 1.

She promised she would sample some Philadelphia cheese steak before boarding the flight to Dublin but she will have to wait a few weeks before she takes delivery of her new WBO 'pink' belt.

In keeping with a long established boxing tradition, she was presented with Volante's belt after her victory but the former champion is allowed keep it although she is no longer the champion.

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