By Declan Taylor, New York
Katie Taylor produced one of the most complete performances of her professional career to unify her WBA lightweight title with the IBF belt at the Barclays Center last night.
The five-time amateur champion made reasonably easy work of three-time world champion Victoria Bustos, who had been described as the hardest opponent of her career to date.
As such, all three judges returned wide cards, with two scoring it 99-91 and the third 98-92.
In truth, it was hard to make a case that Bustos won two of the 10 rounds as Taylor racked up an early lead with a patient start before putting her foot down in the closing stages.
But she may never face a tougher opponent in her career as the Argentinean, who somehow stayed on her feet throughout despite Taylor's regular attacks to both head and body with straight back hands and sharp left hooks.
Taylor, however, was unable to force a late stoppage, meaning she has now gone the full 10-round distance three times in a row, further proving her mettle in distance fights.
Taylor told Examiner Sport: “She was very very tough but you don't become a champion for five years without being that tough I guess.
“I said before that she was a great champion and a proven champion and I knew that she would be there for the 10 rounds, I expected that.”
The crowd at the Barclays Center were on their feet in the closing stages as Taylor poured forward in search of a stoppage, meeting Bustos head on in centre ring and unloading uppercuts and hooks.
She shipped a fierce uppercut herself, which jolted her head backwards, but it did not knock her out of her stride.
On the performance, the Bray star added: “It was a very tough fight obviously but I thought I was very patient early on.
“I knew it would be that type of fight because she's a good counter puncher.
“I thought I did box clever early on, racking up the rounds and then I had a go near the end and she came on strong too.
Promoter Eddie Hearn, meanwhile, was delighted with the performance.
He told Examiner Sport: “I thought Katie Taylor was out of this world. And the most pleasing thing was to see the reaction from people.
“There were a lot of Irish people in here tonight and everybody was on their feet at the end of the fight.
“They absolutely loved it and she's growing into a huge star here.”
Elsewhere on the card, which was topped by Daniel Jacobs' points win over Maciej Sulecki, New York-based Monaghan man Larry Fryers suffered the first defeat of his career as he was stopped by Nikolay Buzolin in the sixth and final round of their light-welterweight clash.