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‘It’s all come together’: Katie Taylor ready for biggest fight women’s boxing has ever seen

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Katie Taylor has become a game changer for women’s boxing. The undisputed lightweight champion and ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter is on the verge of a big year, which will likely include a fight against Amanda Serrano, one of the best fighters of this generation and current unified featherweight champion, who He has won world titles in seven different divisions. That fight, which is supposed to take place at Madison Square Garden in April, is considered potentially the biggest fight in women’s boxing history.

Born in Bray, Ireland, Taylor played soccer for Ireland in World Cup qualifiers while still boxing as an amateur. She won the boxing gold medal at the 2012 Olympics and five world championships before turning pro in 2016 and signing with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who has promoted her career and placed her in the main event several times. times. A fight against Serrano would be a joint promotion between Hearn and new boxing promoter Jake Paul.

As she embarks on 2022, Taylor reflects on her past and tells ESPN what she hopes her reward will be if all goes according to plan:

I think 2022 could potentially be the biggest year of my entire career, because of the opportunities I will have to participate in the biggest fights women’s boxing has ever seen.

I don’t know for sure what order my fights will go in, but I know the next fight has to be against Amanda Serrano. I would be hugely disappointed if it wasn’t.

It seems like people have been talking about this Serrano fight for years, and people are excited to finally see it happen. Obviously, it was programmed to happen a few times before and it failed for whatever reason on her side. But hopefully this time it happens.

After that, I’m not sure. I only take it one fight at a time. This game, that’s the way you have to look at things: one fight at a time, one opponent at a time, so that’s the only fight I’m focusing on right now. But I think it could kick off a defining year for my career. I am looking for the opportunity to become an undisputed champion in multiple divisions and the opportunity to participate in the biggest fights in women’s boxing.

Outside of Serrano, you have Jessica McCaskill or Chantelle Cameron, if she fights Kali Reis and she becomes undisputed at junior welterweight. These are the kinds of names that could lead to huge, huge fights. These are super fights, not only in women’s boxing but in boxing in general. The attention that fights like that could bring to the sport would be unreal, so I think this could be a very historic year for me.

“I feel like I’ve sacrificed a lot for this sport. It’s my absolute passion, so seeing women’s boxing where it is now and seeing where it can go, I feel like it all comes together. All the sacrifices that I’ve made in my life and all My career has brought me to this point, so I’m very grateful.”
Katie Taylor
When I started, my goal was to participate in big events like this. Headlining at Madison Square Garden against Serrano, in the first women’s fight to do so, would truly be the pinnacle of the sport. Much of boxing history is tied to MSG, and I’ve been lucky enough to fight there on a couple of occasions. It’s such an iconic place.

I remember meeting Eddie Hearn in his office in London to turn pro in 2016. It was at the end of a tough streak for me in the amateurs where I had two straight losses, but I definitely had the desire to turn pro. pro at the time, he was interested in signing me, and it went well. Walking out of his office, I felt the excitement and passion again.

I told Hearn that he wanted to take women’s boxing to a place where the UFC was already at the time. Back then, Ronda Rousey was probably the biggest name in the UFC, and many more female stars have emerged in MMA since then. However, women’s professional boxing was still quite under the radar at the time. At the beginning of my professional career, every time I fought I felt like I had to prove myself, even to people watching. And you’re thinking to yourself, ‘OK, are they looking at me like I’m a circus act, or are they going to treat me like a real wrestler?’ She wanted to be treated as a genuine fighter who loves the sport and takes it very seriously and fortunately we are now in a position where I think a lot of the household names are actually female fighters. It is notable

Obviously I am also standing on the shoulders of giants. There were so many women who preceded me as pioneers of the sport, like Christy Martin and Deirdre Gogarty, who had that big fight on the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno undercard in 1996. That was the first big event in women’s boxing. Gogarty was one of my heroes growing up and was a huge support to me. Martin was one of the greatest female athletes in the world at the time.

You also have Laila Ali, Ann Wolfe, Lucia Rijker, these women paved the way for us. I am so grateful, and women’s boxing would not be in the position it is in today if it weren’t for the women who came before us as well.

Katie Taylor, left, became the undisputed lightweight champion with a decision win against Delfine Persoont in 2019 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. She has defended the championship five times since then. Images by Nick Potts/PA via Getty Images
When I look at some of my favorite fighters of all time, Floyd Mayweather, Marco Antonio Barrera, Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson, those guys were always involved in the biggest fights possible. Every time they fought, it was an event. I don’t know if I’m at that point, but that’s the level I want to get to.

However, I am 35 years old and I know that this is a short race. But I want to make the most of it, and I really feel like people haven’t seen the best of me. I feel like these next few years of my career will be the best yet.

I definitely get that I can’t do this forever, unfortunately, as much as I’d love to. Many people have talked about my retirement in recent months. When they ask me about it, I just answer politely, I guess, but inside my stomach churns. I understand that it is a natural conversation for people. It’s a genuine question people can ask, but I’m not thinking of retiring right now. I feel very, very fresh and I have a few more years to go. I feel like people are pushing me out the door. Like, ‘When are you going to retire?’ Do you want me to retire?

Outside of those moments and those questions, retirement isn’t something I think about much. I’m just really focused on the next fight, and I don’t really look much further than that. Boxing has obviously been my life and is a huge passion of mine, so I would love to stay involved in the sport in some way when I retire, especially if it means working with young boxers and helping them realize their potential. But what that role is exactly, I’m not sure.

ESPN Ringside

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When I started boxing as a 10-year-old girl, my whole focus back then was to become an Olympic champion. This was before women’s boxing was allowed in Ireland or sanctioned at the Olympics. I feel like I’ve had to break boundaries my whole life, even back then when I was just starting out in the sport.

I have always said that the greatest legacy I can leave is to inspire the next generation. Now every amateur gym in Ireland is packed with talented young girls so that has definitely been the most satisfying part of my journey. I just want to keep inspiring the next generation to dream big dreams like I did, and keep doing it even better than I have in my career. This is what true legacy looks like.

I feel like I have sacrificed a lot for this sport. It’s my absolute passion, so seeing women’s boxing where it is now and envisioning where it can go, I feel like it all came together. All the sacrifices I have made in my life and my entire career have brought me to this point, so I am very grateful.

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