Boxing

Philadelphia, here I come for Katie Taylor - but homecoming off the agenda for now

Katie Taylor dazzled while defeating Cindy Serrano at the TD Garden in Boston last October. Picture by Sportsfile
Neil Loughran

AS Katie Taylor’s American odyssey continues in Philadelphia on Friday night, any hope of Ireland’s golden girl fighting on home soil again looks to be all but gone.

The Bray woman bids to add the WBO belt to her WBA and IBF when she takes on unbeaten Brazilian Rose Volante (14-0) at the Liacouras Centre - the first fight in what could be a potentially huge year for the 32-year-old.

And any big nights ahead look almost certain to take place Stateside, where Taylor’s profile has gone through the roof in the past 12 months.

A possible homecoming fight in Ireland has been spoken about ever since she inked professional forms with Eddie Hearn after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

However, according to Taylor and her manager Brian Peters, that prospect now appears highly unlikely.

“I obviously would absolutely love to fight here but it just doesn’t look likely for the time being,” she said.

“I guess the next best thing for me is trying to build this fan-base in the US. I just have to make the best of my opportunity out here.”

“We all have someone to answer to,” admitted Meath man Peter.

“DAZN, Eddie Hearn, they’re the guys coming up with the money. Obviously DAZN is making inroads in America, it’s a very competitive field over there – Showtime have upped their game, ESPN have upped their game – so to pay some of these opponents, it has to be on primetime in America.

“On DAZN, these champions are probably getting 20 times more than they’ve ever got and there’s no other market that can really hold that only America, unfortunately.

We’d love to fight here but that’s just the way it is.”

Taylor can always count on the support of a nation no matter where she fights and, with Dubliner Jono Carroll also eyeing up world honours on Friday night, Irish eyes will be homed in on the action in Philadelphia.

Carroll takes on Tevin Farmer, conqueror of Belfast’s James Tennyson last October, for the IBF super-featherweight belt in the show headliner.

But before that Taylor has another opportunity to wow the American fans she dazzled in defeating Cindy Serrano and Eva Wahlstrom in 2018.

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist is a huge favourite to kick-start St Patrick’s weekend in style by extending her unbeaten record to 13-0, and already talk has turned to potentially money-spinning showdowns with Amanda Serrano (sister of Cindy), Mikaela Mayer, Estelle Mosley, Cecilia Braekhus and Delfine Persoon down the line.

Indeed, it is understood that Belgian Persoon – who holds the WBC lightweight title – has already been lined up this summer, and could face Taylor on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s US debut against Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller on June 1.

The weight of expectation is so great on her shoulders that the inclination has always been to look down the line, but Taylor insists she has no problem remaining focused on the next job at hand – and that is Volante this Friday night.

“When you have fights like this coming up it’s easy to stay motivated and I’m really excited about this fight and about the year ahead.

“I’m used to that kind of mindset from people; I definitely don’t look too far ahead. I can’t take anyone for granted, I know there are big fights out there for me but I have to keep winning for those fights to happen. I can’t slip up at all so my focus never changes I don’t think.

“The support I’ve got out here since I’ve been fighting out here the last year or so has been absolutely phenomenal, even the reaction from the crowd each time has been absolutely brilliant. I’m so grateful for that as well, but I just have to keep winning.

“I do want to make history in this sport, I want to leave a great legacy and to do that I have to continue to perform at my very best. I feel I can go from strength to strength and the best is yet to come, so I feel I’m in a great position at the moment.

“I’m loving this journey I’ve been on the last couple of years and getting the opportunity to fight on these huge cards is amazing for me.

“When I sat down with Eddie Hearn and with Brian a couple of years ago about turning pro, I never thought I’d be in the position that I am now, ready for another world title fight. The way female boxing has gone over the last couple of years has been insane really.”

Katie Taylor celebrates after defeating Finland's Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden in December. Picture by PA

And with that respect has come rewards. When she made the decision to turn pro, there was a certain element of moving into the unknown.

But that bold call has paid off in spades as Taylor has become the highest earner the female fight game has ever seen.

“It would’ve been much safer to stay amateur and keep going the way I was going because we really didn’t know what people’s perceptions were towards women’s boxing.

“To see the amount of money I’m making from my first pro fight to how much I’m making now, I would never have thought I’d be making that much money as a professional fighter.”

“When you consider Katie fighting in Madison Square Garden, alongside the highest paid athlete of all time, and Katie steals the show,” added Peters, referencing December’s appearance in the Big Apple on the undercard of Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez v Rocky Fielding.

“That’s the stuff dreams are made of.”

There are plenty more dreams to be fulfilled in a career that, despite all that has already been achieved, promises so much more.

And maybe when all is said and done, Taylor will finally sit down and watch the feature-length documentary about her life post Rio.

‘Katie’ received rave reviews when it was released last year, yet the film’s subject has so far chosen to steer clear.

“I know every part of my life story so I don’t feel like I need to watch it,” she laughs.

“I know it is quite emotional at times… I just hate watching myself on TV anyway. Maybe I will sit down and watch it after I retire.

“My family are really, really proud and that’s all that matters, that they’re happy with it.”

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