Monday 18 November 2019

What's next for Katie Taylor? Money-spinning NYC fight on cards for Ireland's two-weight champion


Katie Taylor celebrates following her victory over Christina Linardatou. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Katie Taylor celebrates following her victory over Christina Linardatou. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Katie Taylor considers her options against Christina Linardatou. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire

Sean McGoldrick

Katie Taylor made history in Manchester on Saturday night by becoming Ireland's third two-weight world champion with a unanimous decision victory over Christina Linardatou.

The 33-year-old added the WBO super lightweight belt to her WBA, WBO, IBF, WBC and The Ring lightweight belts. In doing so, she followed in the footsteps of two-weight champions, Steve Collins and Carl Frampton.

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Her victory was both stylish and emphatic - as illustrated in the judges' score cards. However, her Greek opponent didn't see it that way.

The post-fight press conference was winding down in the bowels of the Manchester Arena when Linardatou, accompanied by her manager Brian Cohen, came through a door at the back of the room.

Linardatou's thunderous facial expression suggested she hadn't come to congratulate Taylor for dethroning her.

At the top table, Eddie Hearn, chief executive of Matchroom, was flanked on his left by Taylor and her trainer Ross Enamait. To Hearn's right was Taylor's manager Brian Peters, who whispered to Hearn that the Linardatou party were in the room.

Taylor lands a left hand on her opponent. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Taylor lands a left hand on her opponent. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Tirade

Hearn invited her to join them at the top table. The Greek fighter had barely sat down when she launched into a tirade. "Of course I am disappointed," she boomed. "Everybody saw what happened..."

Peters had heard enough and within seconds the entire Taylor party were heading for the exit.

Though they passed within inches of each other, Taylor and Linardatou hardly exchanged a glance. Rather sheepishly,

Taylor celebrating afterwards with her mother Bridget and coach Ross Enamait. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Taylor celebrating afterwards with her mother Bridget and coach Ross Enamait. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Though English is only Linardatou's third language, she succeeded in getting her point across. Her constant use of the pejorative term 'fake' wasn't an accident. It was designed to belittle Taylor's unanimous win.

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In the eyes of the three ringside judges - Giustino Di Giovanni, Stephen Nicolo and Marcus McDonnell - as well as the majority of the 11,000 crowd, Taylor had out-boxed the Greek fighter in a masterful and disciplined tactical performance.

But the Linardatou party - who were upset that Matchroom had refused to offer them a rematch when the fight contract was signed - felt that there were other forces at play. "Her promoter is the Vince McMahon of boxing," suggested Cohen.

"What is Katie Taylor's game? Dance around the ring. This girl here (Linardatou) made the fight. Any person could see it. It is not boxing.

"It is called running. There is no ring generalship. She runs around the ring the whole fight, that's not boxing, that's running," he said.

The departure of Taylor from the room prompted the Greek fighter to declare: "They know, or they would stay to defend themselves. Look at her face (Taylor had a blackened right eye) and mine. That's enough.

"Who has the money makes the champions. Take the title, be happy, go home and cry because you took another title without being a champion," she thundered.

One suspects, however, that Taylor slept far more soundly on Saturday night than in the wake of her unification clash against Delfine Persoon in June. There was genuine doubt about the validly of that win, but none this time around.

As always, the two-weight world champion said little at the press conference. But what she did say was revealing. In many respects it was a coming-of-age fight for the 33-year-old in her professional career.

Though it defied all her natural instincts, she resisted the temptation to stand and trade blows with Linardatou, which clearly frustrated the Greek fighter, who was the defending champion.

"I definitely knew I had to stay like that throughout the whole fight. That's what Ross (Enamait) has been drilling into me for the past few months and that's exactly what I did. I stayed on the outside.

"I knew I was working off her very well and my jab was very good.

"It was important for me to bank the early rounds and be smart and stay like that throughout the whole fight as well.

"I had to be consciously disciplined. It's so much easier to stand there and fight than move your legs. For me it is anyway," said Taylor, who suggested that Linardatou was the best super lightweight around.

According to Hearn, Taylor's career possibilities are endless. His personal preference is for the Bray fighter to become the undisputed super lightweight champion, which would be likely to involve a rematch against Chicago banker Jessica McCaskill.

Next up, however, is a probable top-of-the-bill appearance on a historic all-women's show which the US screening network DAZN is planning for March 7 in New York's Madison Square Garden to mark International Women's Day on March 8.

Amanda Serrano is the targeted opponent. However, while there is a signed contract in place to fight Taylor, Serrano appears to be having second thoughts. Ultimately the dollar sign dictates these issues. As Hearn put it: "Getting a fight against Katie Taylor is like winning the lottery."

Finding her next opponent won't be an issue.

Irish Independent

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