As the final bell sounded on Katie Taylor’s historic win over Victoria Bustos at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones could not help but rise to his feet from his ringside position and applaud the new unified lightweight champion.
Jones, who won six world titles during his fightings days, was part of the commentary team for host broadcaster HBO. He, along with the network’s executives, will wonder why they decided against showing Taylor’s masterclass live.
The Bray star, who arrived in Brooklyn as the WBA lightweight champion, became the first Irish female ever to unify world titles and only the third Irish boxer altogether to do so as she relieved Victoria Bustos of her IBF belt.
Bustos, an incredibly tough woman from Argentina, was a three-time world champion herself and had been described in the build-up by Taylor’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, as by far the toughest test of her career so far.
But the 31-year-old five-time amateur champion and Olympic gold medalist rose to the challenge once again, dominating almost every minute of the clash to claim a unanimous decision with scores of 99-91 twice and 98-92.
In truth, it was difficult to see which two rounds Bustos won as Taylor racked up an early lead with a patient and intelligent game-plan before shifting through the gears in search of the stoppage that never came.
Always her own biggest critic, Taylor is yet to give herself anything above a 6/10 for any performance in her undefeated professional career so far and she was not getting carried away with this one either.
“I’ve got to watch it back,” she said when asked to rate the display. “I thought I did OK.”
There will be no major celebrations for Taylor, who joins Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett as the only other Irish boxers to unify world titles. Instead, she is aiming to claim her third world lightweight title belt as early as July.
It is understood that discussions are already underway regarding a summer showdown with the current incumbent of the WBO title, Rose Volante, who made a successful first defence of the belt earlier this month in Santos, Brazil.
That means that like Taylor, she should be ready to go in July with a unification fight in England currently looking most likely.
“I might have a bit of chocolate cake and a few Coca-Colas,” said Taylor when asked how she will celebrate victory. “But other than that we will get back to work pretty quickly.
“I said before the fight that I want to unify all the belts before the end of the year so we won’t be slowing down.
“I think I’m learning with each fight, learning on the trade I guess. In every fight I’m getting better and better and I’m learning in the gym as well.
“I know the best is yet to come and I can’t wait to show that.” Hearn, meanwhile, was disappointed that the fight was not selected by HBO for the live broadcast but believes the network may think again the next time Taylor is in action.
He said: “I thought she was absolutely out of this world tonight and it was a massive mistake by them not showing that one.
“But I think they will show her in future because there will be a lot of pressure to do so.
“When you have Roy Jones on his feet at ringside applauding at the end, that says it all.
“There were a lot of Irish in here tonight but everybody was on their feet at the end, absolutely loving it.”
Hearn hopes to have Taylor back in action three times before the end of the year starting with Volante in July. After that, a return to American soil in September is in the pipeline before a crack at the brilliant WBC champion Delfine Persoon before 2018 is out.
He added: “That was only Katie’s ninth fight and this was just another step on the journey for her and we won’t be slowing her down one bit. It looks like July next up probably in England against the WBO champion and then we will look to come back here to America in September.
All being well, we will then look to claim the fourth belt in December.”
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