Katie Taylor claims she is in supreme shape ahead of her third professional bout, insisting every fight of her pro career is now “like an Olympic final” despite her status as an overwhelming favourite tonight.
Taylor faces Monica Gentili, a 39-year-old Italian, in a six-round lightweight bout at London’s O2 Arena on the undercard of the Sky Box Office heavyweight showdown between David Haye and Tony Bellew.
Gentili is a replacement opponent as Bulgarian world-title challenger Milena Koleva withdrew due to illness. The Italian carries an unimpressive record of six wins and six losses, with one stoppage defeat, leading to expectations of a handy Taylor win as the bookies have priced the Bray native as a 1/200 favourite.
However, Taylor is wary of the potential for a slip-up.
“It’s my livelihood and it’s very important to put on a performance every time I step into the ring. Obviously, you can’t have a bad day. You can’t slip up at all,” said Taylor.
“Every single fight is like an Olympic final. That’s what I love as well because every fight is a huge fight. I love that pressure,” said the 30-year-old, who will be widely expected to make easy work of Gentil — an 18/1 underdog.
“I got the call to box about a week ago,” said Gentili. “I was training… for this fight, maybe I needed more days to train, but it’s an honour to fight Katie because she’s a good fighter and maybe the best in the world.”
Gentili is expected to bring an aggressive close-quarters style which Team Taylor hope will ensure an entertaining bout.
“I have more experience [as a pro] than Katie, but I don’t know if this will help me,” said Gentili. She lost fights as an amateur, but maybe this feels different for her because it’s a different level… Professional boxing is harder.”
On a similar note, Taylor acknowledged the more aggressive nature of pro boxing when admitting that she has been working with trainer Ross Enamait on boxing’s ‘dark arts. “That’s something you don’t see in the amateur game,” Taylor said.
“Just being in the ring over the past few months with top seasoned pros, I’ve definitely learned a lot, and also with Ross we’ve worked on it. It might go against my nature but once I’m in the ring I’ll do whatever it takes to win the fight. This is the pro game, it’s just rougher.”
Taylor’s hopes of producing an entertaining performance — to match Sky’s likely billing of her bout being on immediately ahead of tonight’s main event — should be aided by her fight taking place at the regular professional lightweight limit of 135lbs. Taylor’s first two pro bouts were held at her old amateur weight of 132lbs (60kg), but Taylor clocked the scales at 9st 8lbs 3oz yesterday, Gentili coming in three ounces heavier.
Meanwhile, Haye will enjoy a size advantage over Bellew for their grudge fight, with the former world heavyweight title holder weighing in over 12 pounds heavier than his Liverpudlian rival. Haye’s physical advantage and power over Bellew, a world cruiserweight champion moving up to heavyweight for the first time, means the Londoner is widely expected to deliver a knockout. However, the 36-year-old has only fought twice in four-and-a-half years — against woeful opposition — while he has had consistent shoulder problems.
Prior to offering a prediction of an early finish inside two rounds, Haye said: “It [the fight] shouldn’t be happening. I punch too hard and he’s a weight below me… It’s not going to end well.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved