Katie Taylor ready for the biggest fight women’s boxing has ever seen

Katie Taylor has been 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 massive year, which will likely include a fight against Amanda Serrano, one of the best fighters of this generation and current featherweight champion. unified, which has won world titles in seven different divisions. The fight, which would take place at Madison Square Garden in April, is considered potentially the greatest fight in women’s boxing history.

Taylor, born in Bray, Ireland, played football for Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers while boxing as an amateur. She won gold in boxing at the 2012 Olympics and five world championships before turning professional in 2016 and signing with Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, who promoted her career and placed her in the spotlight multiple times. main event. A fight against Serrano would be a co-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 the payoff could be if all goes according to plan:

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

I don’t know what order my fights will be in, but I know the next fight has to be against Amanda Serrano. I would be extremely disappointed if that were not the case.

It feels like people have been talking about this Serrano fight for years now, and people are excited to finally see it happen. This obviously had to happen many times before and failed for some reason on his end. But I hope this time it will happen.

Then I’m not sure. I just take one fight at a time. This game is the way you have to look at it – 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’m looking for a chance to become an undisputed champion in multiple divisions and an opportunity to compete in the biggest fights in women’s boxing.

Outside of Serrano, you have Jessica McCaskill or Chantelle Cameron, if she fights Kali Reis and goes undisputed at junior welterweight. These are the types of names that could lead to huge, huge fights. These are great fights, not just in women’s boxing but in boxing as a whole. Attention fights like these could possibly 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 to see women’s boxing where it’s at right now, and to imagine where it can go, I just l “It feels like it’s all come together. All the sacrifices that I’ve made in my life and my entire career have led to this point, so I’m very grateful.”

Katie Taylor

When I started, my goal was to participate in events as important as this one. Headlining in Madison Square Garden against Serrano, in the first women’s fight to do so, would truly be the pinnacle of the sport. A lot of boxing history is tied to MSG, and I’ve been lucky enough to fight there a few times. It’s such an iconic place.

I think back to when I met Eddie Hearn in his office in London about turning pro in 2016. It was at the end of a tough period for me in the amateurs where I suffered two straight losses, but I definitely wanted to turn pro at the time, he was interested in signing me, and it went well. As I walked out of his office, I felt the excitement and passion again.

I told Hearn that I wanted to take women’s boxing to a place where the UFC was already at that time. At the time, Ronda Rousey was probably the biggest name in the UFC, and since then many other female stars have emerged in MMA. Women’s professional boxing was still pretty much under the radar at that time, however. At the beginning of my professional career, every time I fought, I felt that I had to prove myself, even in the eyes of people. And you’re like, ‘OK, are they looking at me like it’s a sideshow, or are they going to treat me like a real fighter?’ I wanted to be treated like a real fighter who loves the sport and takes it very seriously, and luckily we’re in a position now where I think a lot of the household names are actually fighters. It’s amazing.

Of course, I also stand on the shoulders of giants. There were so many women who came before me as pioneers in the sport, like Christy Martin and Deirdre Gogarty, who had that huge fight on the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno undercard in 1996. It was the first big event in women’s boxing. Gogarty was one of my heroes growing up and she 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 wouldn’t be in the position it is in today if it weren’t for the women who came before us as well.

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 have always been in the biggest fights possible. Each 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.

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

I really understand that I can’t do this forever, unfortunately, as much as I’d like to. So many people have talked about my retirement over the past few months. When people ask me about it, I just answer politely, I guess, but inside my stomach churns. I understand this is a natural conversation for people. That’s a real question people may ask, but I’m not thinking about retirement right now. I feel very, very fresh and I have a few more years left. I just feel like people are pushing me out. Like, ‘When are you going to retire?’ Do you want me to retire?

Outside of those times and questions, retirement isn’t something I think about much. I’m only ever really focused on the next fight, and I don’t really look beyond that. Obviously boxing has been my life and it’s such a passion for me, so I’d like to stay involved in the sport in some capacity when I retire, especially if it means working with young boxers and the help realize their potential. But what exactly this role is, I’m not sure.

When I started boxing at the age of 10, my goal at the time was to become an Olympic champion. This was before women’s boxing was even allowed in Ireland or sanctioned at the Olympics. I feel like I’ve had to push the limits all my life, even when I was just starting out in the sport.

I’ve always said the greatest legacy I can leave is to inspire the next generation to pull through. Now every amateur gym in Ireland is full of talented young girls, which has definitely been the most satisfying part of my journey. I just want to keep inspiring the next generation to dream big like me, and keep doing even better than what I’ve done in my career. This is what real inheritance looks like.

I feel like I sacrificed a lot for this sport. It’s my absolute passion, so to see women’s boxing where it is right now, and to imagine where it can go, I just feel like it all comes together. All the sacrifices I’ve made in my life and my entire career have led to this point, so I’m very grateful.

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