Katie Taylor in defiant mood: I thrive under pressure

Although tomorrow night’s world title defence against Cindy Serrano, the toughest fight of her career to date, might seem like an away fixture for Bray’s Katie Taylor, she is very much the home fighter.

Katie Taylor in defiant mood: I thrive under pressure

By Declan Taylor

Although tomorrow night’s world title defence against Cindy Serrano, the toughest fight of her career to date, might seem like an away fixture for Bray’s Katie Taylor, she is very much the home fighter.

A drive of just two hours up the road from her Connecticut training base was required to attend the week’s pre-fight build-up, while the presence of her face on the front of just about every local newspaper in the city has highlighted her burgeoning role as an idol of east coast boxing.

In fairness, two of her 10 professional fights so far have taken place in this part of the world, with a duo of victories racked up at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Boston, however, is a new one for her and so is the broadcast platform DAZN, on which she will be appearing for the first time on Saturday night when she faces Serrano at the TD Garden.

“It’s great not having to get on a plane and go somewhere,” said Taylor of this relative home fixture. “This was a two-hour drive so that was perfect.

“I’ve never boxed here as an amateur of pro or even been here before we did the press conference to launch it a few months ago.

“But I’ve been to a few Red Sox games since I’ve been living here. I have no clue what is going on — I don’t know the rules but my coach Ross [Enamait] is a huge Red Sox fans and he got me involved.

I still don’t know what’s going on. I just go for the food — but actually I can’t do that when I’m in camp and making weight either!

Her discipline has allowed her to transfer her dazzling amateur credentials, which included five world championships and an Olympic gold medal, into the paid ranks. She is already the incumbent of the WBA and IBF lightweight titles.

As such, Taylor has already emerged as one of the biggest names in women’s boxing and has a profile fit to grace the papers in Boston.

“It’s cool,” she said. “It really is amazing. When I first turned pro I didn’t know what to expect so it has been a happy surprise how well it has gone over the last two years.

“But to get on the front page of the papers over here is a huge deal and the reception has been unreal.”

However with such a high profile come great expectations and she is expected to cruise past Serrano, a former world champion with 15 years punching for pay under her belt, with reasonable aplomb.

But Taylor said: “The pressure hasn’t been a factor for me for years. I’ve been dealing with it for a long, long time. If anything I perform well under pressure and it brings the best out in me.

“I know how to control my emotions on the day of the fight and that comes with the experience as an amateur and a professional.”

She has also had to withstand goading from 36-year-old Serrano as well as the New Yorker’s youngster sister Amanda, herself a potential opponent for Taylor down the line.

“I’m never going to be one to react to the talking,” Taylor said.

“It is all just water off a duck’s back for me. It’s a lot easier to talk and a lot harder to go in and back it up in the ring. I like to be quietly confident in the ring before a fight and then do my talking inside it. It’s not the sort of person I am.

I’m just focusing on what I’ve got to do but I think a lot of talking can be a sign of insecurity and a sign of lack of confidence. I just focus on my own performances.

“She is very experienced and hasn’t lost for six years. She’s coming here to win. I expect my toughest fight of my career but these are the fights I love — the challenge.

“People seem to be excited about this fight. This is everything that professional boxing is about — people need to be talking about fights, we need that public interest and this fight is getting it.”

Should Taylor win in emphatic style live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports in the UK, the clamour for a showdown with Serrano Jr will intensify.

So is it safe to describe tmorrow’s encounter with Serrano as a stepping stone toward her sister, widely considered as the star of the family.

“I guess so,” Taylor said. “But I need to get over this hurdle first.

“If this goes well then it’s fight that everyone will start talking about.”

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