Katie Taylor: ‘No matter who I fight, there’s always criticism’

Katie Taylor after her victory in London on Saturday night. Picture: Sportsfile

Katie Taylor is back in the gym today ahead of three big fight dates in the next three months and a possible world-title challenge in September.

In contrast, her defeated opponent, Moncia Gentili, is left to nurse a bruised head following their bout at London’s O2 Arena Saturday.

After Taylor talked of big days to come in her dressing-room following the bout, Gentili waited patiently outside the dressing-room of Tony Bellew to get a photograph alongside the Liverpudlian, who had just caused a shock in Saturday night’s main event at the O2 by defeating David Haye.

That picture painted a thousand words. A late replacement opponent for Taylor, 39-year-old Italian Gentili proved to be a game foe but clearly outclassed, going to the canvas after a barrage of blows from the Bray woman in the fifth round. Carrying a 6-6 record into the fight, it never appeared likely Gentili would present Taylor with a challenge worthy of her talents after filling in as a late substitute opponent following the withdrawal of Bulgarian world-title challenger Milena Koleva due to illness.

“No matter who I’m in there against, there’s always going to be someone to criticise [me], but I’m not too concerned about what people say,” Taylor said on the suggestion she is not fighting at her level. “I definitely feel like I should be in there with better opponents, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I just had to go and do my job.”

Sporting a bruised forehead, Gentili admitted she had been outclassed by a far superior opponent. “Yes, it was very hard,” said the Italian. “I thought she [Taylor] was a good fighter, but she was even better [than I expected],” added Gentili before agreeing Taylor punches hard.

That was a notable statement as Taylor’s previous opponent, Brazilian Viviane Obenauf, had claimed the Bray woman lacks the punching power needed for pro boxing following their December bout.

The five-time amateur world champion was possibly better prepared for this outing as she had come through a seven-week training camp with coach Ross Enamait at his Connecticut base, while the bout was set at the professional lightweight limit of 135lbs – three pounds heavier than Taylor’s first two pro fights.

“I felt a lot stronger and it was great not to have to lose the extra few pounds as well,” explained the former Olympic champion, who heads into a Manchester fight date later this month before an undercard appearance in support of the world heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in late April.

Taylor is then likely to travel to the USA for a summer bout, while promoter Eddie Hearn has suggested all roads lead to a September world-title date – possibly in Dublin – should all go to plan.

“I’m just looking forward to a busy year. I don’t care where the fights are, I just want to keep progressing and I want the opponents to step up,” the 30-year-old continued.

“I have to get a few more eight-rounders and 10-rounders under my belt before stepping up to world titles.

“It doesn’t matter to me where I fight, I just need the fights, I need the rounds under my belt,” added Taylor after halting Gentili in a bout that had been scheduled for six two-minute rounds.

The Bray native’s whirlwind schedule saw her fly to Connecticut yesterday and she will return to training today in preparation for her March 25 date in Manchester.

Meanwhile, Bellew had a bit more time to savour the spoils of victory. The Liverpudlian caused a huge shock by recording an 11th-round stoppage win over Haye, who had been a money-on favourite ahead of the fight.

In a bizarre bout, Haye suffered what is believed to be an Achilles injury in the sixth round, which greatly limited his ability to move or generate power in his punches.

Unlike the pathetic toe injury the Londoner famously blamed for his loss to Wladimir Klitshcko, this appeared to be a genuinely painful and debilitating problem.

Trainer Shane McGuigan was left with a difficult decision, but after giving Haye a few rounds to try to get back on track, the coach threw in the towel as referee Phil Edwards stepped in to call a halt while a tiring Bellew launched another flurry at Haye.

While Bellew had his opponent down in rounds six and 11 – the latter knockdown seeing Haye fall through the ropes – he struggled to finish off the brave but bombastic Londoner, with the winner later claiming he broke his right hand early on in the fight.


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