Katie Taylor to fight in US before Croke Park bout

Promoter Eddie Hearn talked the talk after former Olympic boxing champion, Katie Taylor, walked the walk in her professional debut win in London on Saturday night.

Grand plans of a world-title fight at Croke Park were on the agenda at Wembley Arena, with Matchroom Promotions boss, Hearn, predicting that his new signing would travel Stateside to become a star before she would book a glorious homecoming.

Taylor took the first step towards making that a reality when she blitzed journeywoman, Karina Kopinska. It was only the 27-year-old Pole’s second stoppage loss in a 25-fight career.

Taylor pummelled the previously durable Kopinska from the opening bell of their lightweight fight, forcing referee, Robert Williams, to halt the contest 58 seconds into the third round, with the Pole trapped in her own corner under a barrage of blows.

After Taylor impressed in front of a live Sky Sports audience on her first pro bill, Hearn suggested that only GAA headquarters would be big enough to cater for her support, when she eventually returns to Ireland for a home show, next year.

“I believe she can win a world title now, but there is no value in winning a world title now,” said Hearn. “Let’s become huge and then go to, I thought the 3 Arena, but now I guess we’ll have to say Croke Park.”

Taylor’s impressive performance was exactly what Hearn and her manager, Brian Peters, had ordered, as they look to build the five-time amateur world champion into a star who can raise women’s pro boxing to new levels.

“Well, you have to obviously impress on your pro debut and get everyone talking and you have to be able to fill out these stadiums in the future,” said Taylor.

“So, if you want to be a headliner in the future, you have to absolutely impress in every single fight.

“I’ve always wanted to be a history-maker and break down a lot of barriers. I think I’ve done that in amateur boxing.

“So, I think I’ve got the platform to do that in the pro ranks, as well,” said the Bray woman, who was effectively afforded the status of a headliner in last week’s promotional build-up to the bout.

Such a move, from the likes of Matchroom and Sky, is unusual, even for a decorated amateur prospect — and unprecedented for a female boxer.

“These first two fights, it’s so important to get the right start and, honestly, even if I wrote [a script], it wouldn’t have been as good as what happened,” said Hearn, referring to Taylor’s quick-fire schedule.

She will box again in two weeks’ time, on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence, in front of a crowd of 21,000 at Manchester Arena.

The glitz and glamour of the pro game is new to Taylor, who needed some coaxing from Hearn not to wear plain ring attire, in homage to her hero, Kostya Tszyu, the Russian-Australian former world champion, who used to wear simple, Mike Tyson-style, all-black shorts and boots.

Instead, Taylor’s black shorts were emblazoned with gold trim, appropriately enough, considering her five amateur world titles, six European crowns, and 2012 Olympic crown.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Hearn of Taylor’s potential marketability, and dollars will be on the agenda soon, as Taylor looks likely to feature on a March 18 fight bill in Madison Square Garden.

“I think, realistically [it will be] five or six before we go back to Ireland,” said Hearn. “We want to go out to box in America, see what happens there, give her a chance to become a superstar… then back to Ireland for the big one.”

An opponent for the December 10 Manchester show is expected to be confirmed early this week, and Hearn said that Taylor is likely to have four or five fights before taking on a quality foe.

Taylor said: “I’m happy to box whoever right now.. That’s always the way when you turn pro. The first few fights are... the [first] opponent isn’t as good as international amateur opponents.”

Meanwhile, Ireland finished in 13th place in the medals table, and 11th spot in the rankings table, at the 63-nation AIBA World Youth Championship, which concluded in St Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday.

Light welterweight, Gabriel Dossen, claimed bronze, as did Michael Nevin at middleweight.

The US, with ex-Irish head coach, Billy Walsh, working the corner, finished in second spot in the medals table, behind Cuba, after winning two gold and two bronze.

Walsh said: “I’m very proud, as head coach of not only the medallists, but each and every individual on the team.

“I look forward to a bright future for these young men and for Team USA, as we move into the next Olympic cycle.”

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