History-maker Taylor still flying the flag

On a weekend awash with cultural appropriation and faux role modelling, Katie Taylor was St Patrick’s saving grace.

History-maker Taylor still flying the flag

On a weekend awash with cultural appropriation and faux role modelling, Katie Taylor was St Patrick’s saving grace.

Unlike some of those parading through Chicago, Taylor has always favoured substance over style, her slew of international success a long-standing beacon for the Irish abroad.

Last week’s win etched the latest entry onto that laundry list of honours, a third world title reaffirming the 32-year-old’s seamless ascension to the sport’s top table.

Any lingering demarcation between male and female boxing was also nulled, Katie’s rising star again the brightest on a card of all codes.

Her display in the famed fighting city of Philadelphia did more than match that billing, Taylor's bar ultimately proving too high for a brave but bested Rose Volante.

Not that the sailing was entirely plain. Indeed, with the Brazilian having herself entered the ring undefeated, the potency of her threat came as little surprise.

“We knew all along she’d come to fight”, reflected Taylor.

She’s a very proud champion, so she was everything I expected. That got the best out of me.

“Sometimes it is very hard to stop opponents at this level. When the referee waved it off I was obviously delighted; I was like: ‘Thank God! I can relax now!’

“I knew (Rose) was going to put pressure on me, but I think a lot of these girls underestimate my own strength up close. I can mix it with anyone in there. I love fighting up close. And she definitely couldn’t handle the body shots when I started going down there.”

It is that malleability which has long since set Taylor apart, freeing her to adeptly switch from success in the amateur scene to domination of the pros.

Already Ireland’s first unified three-belt champion, a mooted meeting with WBC titlist Delfine Persoon tees up the last leg of a clean sweep.

“The road to undisputed is on. When I first sat down with [promoter] Eddie Hearn and [manager] Brian Peters a few years ago, I said I wanted to become undisputed champion.

That’s always been my goal. That would be absolutely historic. That would be equal to winning Olympic gold for me.

“I know there was a lot of pressure on me [to get past Volante], so to actually overcome that pressure, those nerves, is perfect preparation.

“There’s always nerves ahead of every single fight, but I did realise the importance of this one, and how big it was, to actually get to the biggest nights down the line.”

Persoon certainly merits such a mantle, Belgium’s champion emeritus having not tasted defeat in nigh-on nine years, her reign as world champion among boxing’s lengthiest.

In that sense, the gravity of the contest is matched only by the stage, the pair’s lightweight unification primed for a heavyweight platform.

Hearn has pegged the clash to serve as chief-support to Anthony Joshua’s maiden stateside splash, the Madison Square Garden bow booked for June 1st.

“When you’ve got a chance to make an undisputed fight like this, you really have to jump”, said the Londoner.

“There’s no perfect time for everybody. It just comes together. And there seems to be a chance to do that fight, something which has never looked possible before.

“I think that Persoon — with the money, with the undisputed tag, with Madison Square Garden — it’s tough for her to say no to the opportunity.”

Taylor too would be loath to pass it up, even if the turnaround between bouts seems a touch on the tight side. Not that she has ever been put off by a heavy schedule.

“The 1st of June is perfect for me. [I know] it’s going to be another tough fight, very, very physical.

“Persoon punches non-stop. has a high work-rate. It’s going to be hard to look good against those types of opponents, but it’s definitely what I want. 100%.”

With just over two months to go, it seems Katie has already re-fixed her one-track mind on the next task at hand.

An albeit brief holiday to Bray should at least bring some home comforts, the latest addition to her trophy cabinet topped only by a new arrival in the Taylor clan.

“I’m home for a week and I can’t wait to meet my new niece. She was just born a few days ago. Cory Genesis Taylor. It’s a cool name. Could be a real superstar’s name!”

Cory won’t have to look too far for inspiration.

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