Boxing at the London 2012 Olympic Games took place at the ExCeL London, in the city’s Docklands area, an indoor arena currently preparing to host exhibitions in refrigeration and classic cars.
However, in that summer, Taylor was among the elite athletes which helped transform one of its many large rooms into a cauldron of sporting excellence.
The Bray fighter, a five-time world amateur champion and six-time European gold medalist, catapulted herself to global superstardom by becoming Olympic champion in 2012, and she is now in the vanguard of a new wave of professional women’s boxing.
She won her first pro title in the paid ranks just over six weeks ago in front of a sell-out crowd at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, but her first defence will be made in a far more low-key, but no less significant, surroundings. It feels appropriate that, despite talk of homecoming shows or a US outing, the historic York Hall stands just five miles down the road from the ExCeL.
“This is the perfect fight for either Ireland or we could even do it in America,” her promoter Eddie Hearn said ahead of tonight’s clash with American Jessica McCaskill at the sold-out, 1,500-capacity hall. “But Katie said ‘no, no, I want this fight next’. She’s got to be composed in this fight, because McCaskill will come out and try to have it. We can’t afford any mistakes at this point.”
Taylor has made a habit of breaking ground and she will do so once again, as she headlines the stacked bill live on Sky Sports tonight.
“She is one of the biggest stars in world boxing, full stop,” said Hearn. “When you talk about British and Irish boxing, you talk about stand-out stars, she is right up there now. She is headlining her own show on Sky Sports. For the naysayers and doubters, please don’t look at it like women’s boxing as opposed to men’s boxing. Please just watch the fight and let me know what you think. You can’t help but enjoy watching this girl fight. Against McCaskill? You will love this fight.
“I’m not banging the drum for equality and women’s rights, forget all that, I am talking about a fight, I’m talking about a fighter. It wasn’t so long ago that she was in the first women’s fight live on Sky Sports, now you have this superstar headlining events. After this one, we will take her back to Ireland to unify in an incredible night,” said Hearn of the Bray native, who has boxed all over London, but is yet to appear at the so-called home of British boxing.
She said: “I can’t wait, actually. It’s such a historic venue and everyone who has boxed there before always talks about the atmosphere.
“This is a fight that everybody has been talking about for the last few months. I’m looking forward to the challenge. It has definitely been a quick turnaround from the last fight. I only had a few days before I was straight back into camp for this one.
“She has been calling me out for the last few months. She hasn’t left me alone, but sometimes you have to make a bit of noise to make these fights happen. I wouldn’t have even known who Jessica McCaskill was otherwise but now the fight has been made, I’m made for this fight right here.”