Boxing

Katie Taylor has score to settle in rematch against Delfine Persoon

Katie Taylor (right) in action against Delfine Persoon in the IBF, WBC, WBO, WBA, Ring Magazine Women's Lightweight World Championships fight at Madison Square Garden, New York in June
Andy Watters

THERE'S a score to be settled for undisputed lightweight world champion Katie Taylor on Saturday in her rematch with Belgian wrecking ball Delfine Persoon.

There are many who would argue with Taylor's ‘undisputed' status because several good judges at ringside on June 1 last year disputed the decision. They felt Persoon's relentlessly aggressive, come-forward style had won their first meeting at Madison Square Garden. Taylor got a majority decision 95-95 and 96-94, 96-94 on the scorecards because some of the tight rounds went her way.

Taylor was originally training to fight Amanda Serrano but after Seranno pulled out, Persoon was drafted in as a replacement.

“The last few months I've been training for a huge fight with Serrano but that fell through and the other fight that made sense was to pursue a rematch with Persoon,” said Taylor.

“The last fight was a huge fight and it was very, very close so it is a fight that is deserving of a rematch. This is a fight I've been looking forward to since our first fight.

“I'm ready for this, I can't wait. It's the biggest fight in women's boxing right now. I wanted it straight away really after the first fight.

“I only want to be involved in big fights, I love this challenge and this is why I'm in the sport of boxing. You can't turn down these opportunities. It's a huge fight but this is what I was made for, this is what I was born for. It's the fight that I've always wanted.”

Bray native Taylor says the decision in New York was correct and that Saturday night's rematch at Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Fight Camp will go the same way. As you might expect, Persoon disagrees.

The Belgian policewoman has had six weeks' to prepare for Saturday night and says she has watched the first fight back “30 times” but insists that Taylor didn't do enough to win it.

“For us, we don't think we lost the fight, we're sure we didn't lose the fight,” she said.

“Everybody got his own way of looking at the fight and there are a lot of things in the world that are not correct but now it's time to do the rematch and may the best boxer win.”

Persoon has accused Taylor of running and holding during the first fight. The double Olympic Games gold medallist tried to fight the Belgian off instead of using her superior skills and on Saturday night she says she intends to “box the right fight for me”.

“It's not running, it's called boxing and it's called the sweet science for a reason,” said Taylor.

“A boxer against a fighter is always a good fight to witness and this is a very interesting fight. I need to be a bit more disciplined in this fight and I'm looking forward to that.

“I knew it was going to be a tough fight, a tough challenge and I realised from the get-go that she was going to be the toughest opponent that I had faced. I wasn't surprised on the night and I was ready for that challenge. I came out victorious and deservedly so.

“I'll be ready again and it will be the same result – I will have what it takes to win the fight.”

MICHAEL Conlan says he is being unfairly penalised for 'low blows' by UK referees and judges despite never having been warned for doing so in the USA.

Referee Steve Gray warned Conlan for hitting low twice during the Belfast man's win over Sofiane Takoucht on Saturday night. The warnings were for borderline right hooks to the body and Conlan admits he had to change his tactics because of the referee's action.

“I would have finished him in the middle rounds if it wasn't for the points being deducted,” said Conlan.

“If I'm honest, I thought they were soft warnings – one of them was legit, the second one. The warnings up until that I thought were nonsense.

“I think UK referees and judges kind of look for me throwing low blows for some reason – maybe because John Rawling (BT Sport commentator) is always saying I throw low blows?

“I don't know but I've been warned a few times in the UK so I think they kind of look for it. The first warning was very, very soft and it made me change my gameplan. I think I would have stopped him in the fifth or sixth but after that warning I had to change it up and the fact that I was able to change the gameplan mid-fight and still get the stoppage was great.”

Now 14-0, Conlan has fought nine times in the US, once in Australia, twice in Ireland and twice in England. He says Saturday night's warnings – the only blemishes on an otherwise textbook performance – are not a concern going forward.

“The bolo shot I throw does stray low at times,” he said.

“Obviously I need to maybe work on my accuracy as a southpaw with the right hook to the body which is the one they were calling me for. But it's not something I worry about, it's not something I have to really focus on.

“In America I've never been warned once for hitting below the belt so I'm not really bothered by a few warnings here.”

Conlan was electric on Saturday night at the BT Studios. Superbly fit and in terrific shape, he unleashed his full repertoire against the battling Frenchman who was in serious trouble several times but survived until the final round.

The former amateur world champion intends to take a break but he will continue to train as he drops down to the 122lb level.

“It was the best performance of my career so far,” he said.

“I did everything that I said I was going to do. I said I was going to break him down and stop him late and I did that. I was much more aggressive, the things I worked on in the gym shone through.

“I knew I was going to make it happen in this one and I came out of the lockdown and I felt I was a different kind of fighter, a different animal.

“My whole mindset has changed around what I want to do in boxing and how I'm going to do it. I'm really happy, really, really happy.”

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Boxing