Year ends on a high, but rival says Katie Taylor must hit harder

Katie Taylor expressed mixed emotions after recording her second professional win in the space of two weeks on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 21,000 at the Manchester Arena.
Year ends on a high, but rival says Katie Taylor must hit harder

But the former Olympic champion admitted her successful start in the paid game, and back-to-back wins, means a sour 2016 has ended sweetly. The Bray woman dominated her six-round bout against Swiss-based Brazilian Viviane Obenauf in what was a high-profile slot on a Sky Box Office pay-per-view TV bill headlined by Anthony Joshua’s successful defence of his IBF heavyweight title with a third-round knockout win over Texan Eric Molina.

Having entered the ring to the sounds of Oasis’ Supersonic — appropriate for the Manchester venue — the 10.30pm start for Taylor’s bout was later than anticipated. But it gave the five-time amateur world champion a taste of what she hopes will be a regular occurrence in 2017 as fight dates in New York and London look likely.

“It was a privilege to be boxing on a platform like this. This is what I was born to do,” said Taylor on fighting in front of the sell-out crowd in front of a Sky TV audience in Ireland and the UK, as well as Showtime in the US.

“I’d love to be headlining these shows,” she continued after the unanimous decision 60-53 points win. “It was an honour to be boxing on Anthony Joshua’s undercard and he’s one of the biggest names in boxing.”

Taylor’s schedule will become more certain once manager Brian Peters and promoter Eddie Hearn sit down to firm up their plans for 2017, but a date in January or February is possible before a likely fight date in New York St Patrick’s weekend.

Following that, an appearance on the undercard of Joshua’s Wembley Arena date against Wladimir Klitschko may be in the works.

After losing her Olympic crown in Rio four months ago, the 30-year-old has managed to get back on track having taken on a new challenge. “I think the last few weeks have been some of the most exciting of my career, so that says an awful lot,” said the five-time world champion and six-time European gold medal winner. “I’d love to be sitting here as a two-time Olympic champion, but it just wasn’t meant to be and turning the last few months around to end the year on a high is [positive]”.

Taylor may have been a 1/200 favourite ahead of Saturday’s bout, but Obenauf was tough, game and durable over the six-round distance.

Obenauf had joked before the bout that she would not resort to Mike Tyson ear-biting tactics to cause a shock against 1/200 favourite Taylor. Bizarrely, however, she appeared to kiss Taylor on the neck while in a clinch during the bout. Presumably it was an effort to anger or intimidate the Bray woman, although it did not distract her from closing out the win.

Taylor dominated but she did not have it easy and having fought, and won, two pro contests in just the space of two weeks, she is looking forward to a Christmas break.

“It was a very quick turnaround from Rio to this,” she said. “I am looking forward to a week off and get back into it after Christmas, get back over to Ross then,” she said,referring to Connecticut-based US coach Ross Enamait, who again worked her corner on Saturday evening. “I need a few months out there to work on things,” she added.

Power and aggression look likely to be areas to improve.

Obenauf reported afterwards she did not feel hurt by her opponent, despite Taylor’s dominance. “Yes, she could be a world champion, but she needs to hit harder than she was hitting me,” Obenauf said when quizzed on how far she believes Taylor can go as a pro. “I don’t think she hits that hard,” the 30-year-old added.

Taylor admitted afterwards she could have been more ruthless in pursuit of a knockout, but claimed it is another lesson learned having only made her pro debut two weeks ago with a stoppage win over Polish journeywoman Karina Kopinska in London.

Obenauf was given a count in the second round and while it appeared the Brazilian had slipped, Taylor was of the opinion that she should have pursued her opponent in a more aggressive fashion.

“Definitely that one time she went down, I kind of stepped back,” Taylor noted. “[It was] a bit amateur [of me], I should have jumped on her a bit more. That’s where the experience comes in, isn’t it?”

Later in the night, Joshua was devastating when knocking out Molina. The Texan somehow managed to get to his feet after being put down from a massive Joshua right hand, but ref Steve Gray stepped in moments later as the champion bombarded his inferior opponent with a number of blows. Joshua will meet Wladimir Klitschko on April 29 in Wembley when the Londoner will again defend his IBF heavyweight title, while the vacant WBA world crown will also be on the line.

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