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Tommy Conlon: 'Katie Taylor is once again a boxing pioneer but the talent pool she navigates is as deep as a puddle'

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Katie Taylor celebrates following her WBO Women’s Super Lightweight World title fight against Christina Linardatou

Katie Taylor celebrates following her WBO Women’s Super Lightweight World title fight against Christina Linardatou

Katie Taylor celebrates following her WBO Women’s Super Lightweight World title fight against Christina Linardatou

Another fight, another belt, and one can only hope that it amounts to a hill of money because the titles do not amount to a hill of beans.

Katie Taylor has been in the fight business as opposed to the sport of boxing since she turned professional in the autumn of 2016.

In Manchester last Saturday night she won her fifth world championship belt in her 15th pro fight. Which is to say she’s been averaging a new belt every three fights. In other words, they are not hard to come by, for a boxer with her sense of vocation and proven class.

Having mopped up the four global belts at lightweight, she moved up to super light (10 stone) for a tilt at the WBO version owned by the Athens-based Christina Linardatou. She won by unanimous decision after ten two-minute rounds.

Every fight needs a few pumps on the bellows to swell the publicity balloon.

The hot air this time was fuelled by the prospect of Taylor becoming world champion in a second weight division.

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Katie Taylor, centre, and Christina Linardatou during their WBO Women's Super-Lightweight World title fight at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Katie Taylor, centre, and Christina Linardatou during their WBO Women's Super-Lightweight World title fight at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Katie Taylor, centre, and Christina Linardatou during their WBO Women's Super-Lightweight World title fight at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The usual carnival barkers, principally her promoter Eddie Hearn and the reliably acquiescent Sky Sports machine, duly hyped up the achievement — before, during and after the bout.

Obviously, the champ herself does not have a credibility problem. But it remains an unavoidable reality that the business she is in does.

The pool of talent that Taylor has had to navigate is about as deep as a puddle. In the pro game, most of her opponents have been farcically amateurish.

The challenge for her management from day one has not been to avoid dangerous opponents, but to avoid opponents that she would endanger.

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Linardatou turned out to be a durable foe who troubled Taylor intermittently with her superior power and all-round toughness.

But she herself had needed only 12 pro fights to become world champion, the first six of which were fought in her native Dominican Republic.

Everyone has to start somewhere, of course, but it is intriguing to note that one of her early fights, according to boxrec.com, was held at a venue called Momo Car Wash in the city of Salcedo.

Taylor herself won her first world title in her seventh bout. It took ten years and more to win Olympic gold at London 2012; it took her a wet week to reach the top as a pro.

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Katie Taylor arrives back to Dublin Airport following her undisputed Female World Lightweight Championship victory over Delfine Persoon, flanked by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Katie Taylor arrives back to Dublin Airport following her undisputed Female World Lightweight Championship victory over Delfine Persoon, flanked by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Katie Taylor arrives back to Dublin Airport following her undisputed Female World Lightweight Championship victory over Delfine Persoon, flanked by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

And as if to demonstrate the shabby circumstances of her new milieu, her opponent Anahi Ester Sanchez failed to make weight, thereby handing the title to Taylor before a punch had been thrown. Sanchez prior to that had also been a two-weight world champion.

Taylor’s next opponent was a full-time investment banker, the one after that an accounts manager, and the one after that a 37-year-old mother, Kimberly Connor, who at one stage of her career didn’t fight for almost four years after her twins were born.

Rose Volante from Brazil held the WBO version of the lightweight title when Taylor relieved her of it last March. Volante’s previous title defence had been against a Colombian who was nearly 42-years-old.

It was not until her next fight, against the rugged Belgian Delfine Persoon in June, that Taylor finally met an opponent with whom she was evenly matched. Persoon arguably won the fight; Taylor edged it by majority decision.

Persoon had taken leave of absence from her day job as a police officer to train and to travel to New York for the fight. The defeat of Persoon brought Taylor her fourth world championship belt.

In truth, she would have swapped them all for the Olympic gold medal she so badly wanted to win at Rio 2016.

Whilst the world’s elite amateurs have been preparing intensively for Tokyo 2020, Taylor has been fighting part-time professionals who wouldn’t lace the gloves of the aforementioned amateurs. It is these practitioners, all of them dreaming of Olympic medals, who are in fact the full-time fighters.

Many of them were inspired by Taylor to climb between the ropes in the first place. The standard in the amateur game has escalated while its professional counterpart remains a stagnant backwater.

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Delfine Persoon, left, pictured during her World title defeat to Katie Taylor in New York last June. Photo: Sportsfile

Delfine Persoon, left, pictured during her World title defeat to Katie Taylor in New York last June. Photo: Sportsfile

Delfine Persoon, left, pictured during her World title defeat to Katie Taylor in New York last June. Photo: Sportsfile

It has fallen to Taylor for the second time in her life to be the pioneer, the torch-bearer for a sport still in its infancy.

Whatever money is to be made in the pro game, she is probably making more than any other female. But it is still pretty much peanuts, five belts or no belts.

Behind Eddie Hearn’s two-bob blather about his admiration for Taylor, it would be interesting to ascertain what she is actually earning in pounds, shillings and pence — after everyone else has got their cut.

Taylor reportedly spent 15 weeks in camp for the Linardatou fight. Sometimes one wonders if the obsessive training is in fact her real need, rather than the fights themselves, most of which have been anti-climactic affairs.

Many of them were so one-sided that they would have required no training at all.

Fifteen weeks at camp in Connecticut means a lot of time alone in her apartment there, with her bible, when the road work and gym work are done for the day. It is a solitary existence for a 33-year-old.

She has been doing it for so long that it could be seen as something more than a way of life: actually a form of escape from life, or an avoidance of conventional society.

As if the champ is not so much running incessantly towards an endless horizon of future targets, but away from her present or her past.

thecouch@independent.ie

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