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Who next for Katie Taylor

By Michael O’Neill

On Wednesday, Bray’s London 2012 Olympic Champion Katie Taylor retained the WBA Lightweight crown she won in October against Anahi Sanchez of Argentina, this time overcoming the tough challenge of leading American challenger, Jessica McCaskill at the iconic York Hall in Bethnal Green, London before a sell out crowd and with Live coverage not only on Sky Sports in UK but also on ShowTime and Social Media in North America.

It’s been a hectic 12 months for the Irish woman and Wednesday night’s post fight Press Conference gave some indication of future plans albeit apart from praising McCaskill most of the talking came from Matchroom’s Eddie
Hearn, Taylor’s trainer Ross Enamait and her Manager, Brian Peters.

Taylor herself said  ‘’it was a really tough fight which she  had expected and prepared for:

“ Yes, it was a very tough fight, probably the toughest of my career,” she went on

“I had to be at my best. I thought I boxed well on the outside. I did what I had to do on the inside.

“It sets me up nicely for 2018.

“I want a homecoming fight and to unify the division.

There are however differing views as to where and when her next defence should take place and who should be her opponent. Taylor though is clear it should be in Dublin rather than the United States which Hearn had previously
suggested was a possibility.

Promoter Hearn, at Wednesday’s post-fight conference opined : “I’d like to bring Katie to Dublin next. It would be a shame not to fight in Dublin. I don’t think it would make a lot of sense not to fight in Dublin,” he informed RTÉ Sport at Dublin Airport when she arrived home on Thursday from London.

“The popularity, we’ve seen it in England and in Wales, has been incredible. If we can bring a unification fight, we’d love to do it.

“April would work really well because it would give Katie the chance to have Christmas and January off which I think she needs.”

Ross Enamait, who trains Taylor in Connecticut, was asked if she should have taken the McCaskill fight so soon after capturing the title. He was adamant that it was the correct decision and had boxed an excellent fight.

Several possible opponents have been suggested but we understand that Matchroom has already entered discussions with Victoria Noelia Bustos and her Management team in Argentina. Bustos,(“La Leona Rosarina)”from Rosario, Santa Fe,  has held the IBF lightweight crown since 2013, with all 22 of her bouts in her homeland but if she wants a title fight with Taylor then she may well be tempted to- and have to-  head to Dublin in the Spring.

She won that title against fellow Argentinian Ana Esteche in 2013 on a unanimous points decision, in her home town.

Bustos has had 18 wins and 4 defeats since she turned Pro  six years ago, with her last defeat against fellow Argentinian  Erica Annabella Farias in July 2016.

Farias herself of course is an ‘old foe’ of Taylor’s as the Bray woman took the first of her five AIBA World Amateur titles against her in New Delhi, back in 2006 with a convincing 30-14 win under the ‘old’ AIBA scoring system
and that despite having suffered a broken nose earlier in the tournament..

When pressed, Hearn did confirm that “we have tried to fight her (Bustos) before. She hasn’t wanted to fight, but in the past few days, they have shown signs that they want to take the fight next”. “It’s about money, as it always is,” said the Matchroom boss.

“We have had to continuously overpay opponents – not Katie.

“We drastically overpaid McCaskill. In the world title fight we drastically overpaid her opponent (Sanchez)  and we will drastically overpay the next one. That’s just how it is.

“That would be our first choice, the direction we are heading is a unification fight.”

Taylor’s Manager Brian Peters confirmed. “We need a fight of some significance. Natasha Jonas would be a great one too.”

“If you are going to the (much larger)  Three Arena, or the RDS you need someone who is going to sell it,” claimed Peters. “Sanchez, who Katie beat [for the WBA title] wasn’t the best to sell a fight. Bustos, she is also from Argentina and has the belt. Katie wants the belt. She’ll be the front-runner for it.

“Unfortunately some of these fighters end up pricing themselves out of it”

“April would be our preference, possibly March,” according to Peters. “It was a very tough year for Katie. Six fights in the calendar year, eight fights in 13 months. It’s been gruelling for her. April would be my preference for Katie and in the Three Arena and against Bustos.”

American Mikaela Mayer is also a real possibility, in future though not next in line.. The American is well known to Taylor’s old Head Coach of the IABA, Billy Walsh, as she was part of the US Amateur team before making her pro
debut with Top Rank in August, and still trains with the U.S.A boxing squad in Colorado.

“Yeah a very good fighter,” Peters told ‘The Irish Times’. “That’s probably a fight…like anything we’re thinking who is Katie going to fight next year four or five times. I have got to have a list of opponents and she [Mayer] could be down the road a bit.

“I’d love her [Mayer] to get a world title, a belt and get a unification fight.

“There’s talk of Mikaela headlining on ESPN. She could be main event on ESPN herself  – that would be huge. Katie’s profile is bigger than a lot of these fighters. I’d like to see their profiles get built up a lot more, generate a lot more interest.”

“Even McCaskill, if she goes on and puts four or five wins together, picks up a world title you could have a rematch there,” says Peters.

“Make no doubt about it. By the time Katie retires she will have fought them all she will have beaten them all.”

Let’s not forget of course the current Lightweight no 1 in most rankings, Belgian Delphine Persoon nor indeed too soon to rule out an eventual title bout with Farias. Other possible opponents include England’s Natasha Jonas
(whom Katie defeated in London 2012) and Chantelle Cameron now part of the Barry McGuigan stable.

So what about Katie’s retirement plans? Clearly the fighter herself is not thinking on those lines though her Dad and former Coach at Bray BC, Pete certainly feels she should be as  he told ‘The Irish Daily Star’ newspaper :

“I’d like to see her retire. I’ve said that since the Olympic Games in London but more so now.

“She’s won the Olympic Games. She’s world champion. What else can you do?

“You’ve got to call it time at some stage.”

So there you have it, the latest on Taylor’s plans according to Eddie Hearn and Brian Peters though clearly Pete Taylor has very different views. As the old saying goes ‘watch this space’

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