Taylor back to business in city she knows so well

Six years on from the London Olympics and talk of legacy looms large.

Taylor back to business in city she knows so well

Ronan Mullen

Six years on from the London Olympics and talk of legacy looms large.

With time comes context, after all, memories of 2012 moving out of sharp focus but evermore into perspective.

What once was Britain’s sporting summer of love has since lost some of its lustre, recriminations on and off the track tainting that which went before.

Bradley Wiggins and Mo Farah are among the knights of the realm who’ve had their copybooks blotted, fiscal arragoes around stadium infrastructure now increasingly par for the course.

And yet, to suggest the 2012 games have been entirely sullied would be to discount their impact on tomorrow’s Olympic hopefuls.

One need look no further than the burgeoning landscape of women’s amateur boxing for proof of that, Katie Taylor’s gold medal charge having birthed a brand-new raft of talent.

Hers will forever be a story synonymous with the city in that regard, London now enshrined as a home from home for the Bray native.

That she should return on this anniversary weekend offers some fitting symmetry, tonight’s outing in the English capital already Taylor’s fifth on a pro ledger numbering ten.

The ominous undercurrent beneath our own domestic boxing scene has demanded as much, last spring’s planned Dublin homecoming taken indefinitely off the agenda.

Just as well then that the faraway hills have proven so green for the 32-year-old. April’s trip to Brooklyn saw Taylor become the first Irish boxer from south of the border ever crowned unified world champion.

It was but the latest staging post on a blazed trail, her career having long been built on raising the bar.

Whether she can transcend the paid ranks as she did the amateurs remains to be seen, the still rocky foundations underpinning female pro boxing a stark contrast to the time-honoured convention which frames the men’s game.

Only through parity of platform can both sides ever hope to broach equal billing, a notion thankfully not lost on Taylor’s promoter Eddie Hearn.

“I don’t even entertain talk of ‘women’s boxing’ and ‘men’s boxing’ these days, it’s all about what you bring to the table. If a fighter has talent it doesn’t matter if they’re male or female and, believe me, Katie is one of the most talented fighters around.

“She is also one of the most committed athletes I’ve ever met, and she has really mixed what was an amazing amateur pedigree with an exciting pro style. She’s the whole package and, if you don’t enjoy watching her, then this sport probably isn’t for you.”

Such bravado is hardly alien to the Hearn MO, but few could accuse him of feigning to put his money where his mouth is.

Taylor’s prominence atop his ever-deepening stable speaks to that end, the Irishwoman last week rolled out alongside Anthony Joshua at the launch of Matchroom’s new billion-dollar broadcast deal.

Both seem certain to be central figures in Hearn’s bid to stretch an already booming British empire across the Atlantic, Katie likely slated for a stateside return come early October.

To that end, tonight’s match-up against fringe contender Kimberly Connor smacks rather more of a comma than a full-stop. And yet, its status as the sole world title fight on what is a Sky Box Office offering means it is not without its cachet.

“This is a huge show and October can’t really come into my thinking until this weekend is over,” asserted Taylor. “This is my only focus. I share some common opponents (with Connor) so I know what I’m in for.

“This is a great chance for me and I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life, the best form of my life.

“I know that Kimberly is a hungry challenger. She’s going to bring her best and that’s going to bring the best out of me as well. I can’t wait.”

Taylor’s keenness to get back to business should come as little surprise, the statement issued following last month’s tragedy at Bray Boxing Club showing a desire to restore her name to the headlines for all the right reasons.

Tonight, she can do just that.

Taylor back to business in city she knows so well

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