Katie Taylor has been at the forefront of the rise of women’s boxing but she believes she has plenty left to do and lots of improvements to make as she defends her undisputed world lightweight title for the second time in under three months.
Taylor faces Miriam Gutierrez at the SSE Arena, Wembley, on Saturday night, topping a triple women’s world title bill. It is the same venue where she made her professional debut four years ago
“I’m not too sure if I’ve changed in the last four years, but it’s amazing to see how far the sport has actually gone since then,” Taylor said. “The fact that I am headlining a show with three world title shows on the card is incredible.
“The journey has been better than I expected, but I guess my focus has always been the same over the last four years. I’ve always wanted to make history; I’ve always wanted to leave a great legacy in the sport. I’m not sure how much I have changed, but women’s boxing has grown and grown. That this show is happening proves that.”
It was only August when she was last in the ring, winning her rematch with Delfine Persoon at Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp. It was a tough fight, but Taylor was keen to get back in the ring as soon as possible after.
She had to spend two weeks in isolation on her return to Ireland and it was only another two weeks before she flew back to the United States to begin training again.
“I had quarantine for two weeks, then I was free for the next two weeks, then I was flying back over to Connecticut to prepare for this fight,” Taylor said.
“You have to take your opportunities during this climate because you really don’t know what might happen. It has been a frustrating year for a lot of fighters, so when the dates come up, when the big fights come up, you have to take them and that’s exactly what I have done this year.
“It was important for me to close that chapter because if I had fought anyone else people would still have been bringing up the Persoon rematch. It was important for me to move n from that and to clear any doubts in people’s minds about who the best lightweight in the world was.
“I thought it was definitely a more convincing win second time round, I definitely boxed a lot smarter. It is never going to be an easy night against Persoon, she’s an awkward fighter but it was a very, very clear victory and I went away very, very happy.”
If she beats Gutierrez, Taylor can expect some big fights next year. Cris Cyborg, the MMA star, has been mentioned, even Claressa Shields, although Taylor insists that she could not step up to super-welterweight.
“That’s a dream fight if people want to see it, but I wouldn’t be able to go beyond welterweight,” she said. “I walk around quite light. I’ve never had a struggle to make weight. I just want to keep winning, keep producing good performances and retire undefeated.
“There is definitely no shortage of big fights out there. I think every female fighter in the world is calling me out right now, which is a great position to be in, really. When I started four years ago, people were asking if there were going to be enough good fights available. But right now I could list ten names off the top of my head of potential opponents. That is how healthy the sport is and that is a great position for me to be in.”
At 34, Taylor says she has lost none of her hunger and has had no thoughts about when she might retire.
“I don’t like to put any limits on my career,” she said. “I just take it fight by fight, but I have got no plans to retire, but at the same time I know I can’t do this forever.
“People haven’t seen the best of me yet. I feel like there is so much to improve on. It’s a great position to be in. I’m undisputed champion of the world with a lot to improve on.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 – covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.