Katie Taylor may not measure up in physical stature to world heavyweight title holder Anthony Joshua, but the Bray woman hopes to reach the same heights as her fellow London 2012 Olympic champion.
The pair will share a bill tomorrow night when Joshua defends his IBF world crown against Texan Eric Molina at what is anticipated to be a 21,000 sellout at Manchester Arena, with Taylor competing in her second pro bout on the undercard of the Sky Box Office pay-per-view bill.
The five-time amateur world champion’s second paid outing — against Swiss-based Brazilian Viviane Obenauf — comes just two weeks after her debut victory in London and while Joshua is the headline act this weekend, it spoke volumes that Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions opted to include Taylor in the heavyweight champion’s main pre-fight press conference in Manchester yesterday.
The remaining fighters on the undercard addressed the press on Wednesday — that event ended in farcical circumstances as heavyweight Derek Chisora threw a table, and with it his bout against Dillian Whyte into doubt — so Taylor’s presence alongside the big boys of boxing suggested that Hearn and his Sky TV backers believe they have another talent to mould from Olympic gold into professional currency.
And Taylor certainly plans on following such a template as that laid out by her fellow London 2012 champion.
“He is the perfect role model, and he’s exactly what boxing needs at the moment,” said Taylor on Joshua, who has gone 17 fights undefeated since his Olympic success en route to a world title.
“I’d love to be able to emulate Anthony Joshua and what he’s done in the sport,” continued the Bray native. “He’s one of the biggest names in boxing and he’s a brilliant ambassador so it would be a dream to do what he’s done for the sport.”
Despite a somewhat misguided youth, Joshua has developed into a paragon of boxing’s more admirablequalities, tending to eschew trash talk in favour of more determined statements of intent. Yesterday’s press conference featured more of the same approach, although the presence of heavyweight jester Shannon Briggs as a vocal spectator added some colour to the proceedings.
Taylor was following Joshua’s lead in her own reaction to comments from her opponent, Obenauf, who earlier this week promised to introduce her decorated opponent to the reality of pro boxing’s “heavy hits”.
When asked about Obenauf’s comments, Taylor replied: “I heard a bit about it but you want those kind of fights, don’t you? I want a bit of a tougher challenge and those challenges get the best out of me as well. She’s obviously coming here to win, but so am I,” added the 30-year-old, who, on paper at least, appears to be facing a tougher challenge than her debut.
Taylor easily dismissed Polish journeywoman Karina Kopinska within three rounds, but 30-year-old Obenauf has never been stopped and she carries a winning record of 9-1.
“It’s a tougher opponent. The last fight I was expected to win, so this fight is a bit of a bigger challenge and I’m looking forward to it,” said Taylor ahead of this morning’s weigh-in when she will again be required to make 132lb — a catchweight of sorts between the 130lb super-featherweight and 135lb lightweight pro limits where Taylor will pursue bigger fights and title shots.
“I definitely could make the 130lb mark,” said Taylor on the topic of what weight she will eventually chase titles. “It would be a bit of a struggle for me, but you do have a bit of a [24-36 hour] break between the weigh-in to the actual fight.
“I’m glad to have the extra two pounds for these fights — it’s still a bit of a struggle even making 132lb, but I’m making it and I feel strong at the weight,” added Taylor, who looks likely to feature high up on tomorrow night’s bill, sometime after 8pm.
Promoter Hearn also revealed that US broadcasters Showtime are keen on screening Taylor’s bout in what is another sign that her star potential is dawning in different time zones.
“All the promoters [in the US and abroad] are saying, ‘box over here, box over here’,” said Hearn. “That’s partly because of how good her debut was, partly because of how good she is and partly because of the fact that she signed with us and Sky. Everyone is wondering what’s going on.”
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