Katie Taylor undisputed lightweight world champion after New York win
Bray boxer in fight of her life as she narrowly defeats Belgium’s Delfine Persoon
Katie Taylor celebrates her win against Delfine Persoon in the IBF, WBC, WBO, WBA, Ring Magazine Women’s Lightweight World Championships fight at Madison Square Garden, New York. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Katie Taylor has been crowned the undisputed lightweight champion of the world after the fight of her life at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The Bray woman narrowly defeated Belgium’s Delfine Persoon after a controversial majority point’s decision; two scores of 96-94 tipping the bout in her favour with the third judge calling a draw at 95 points apiece.
Persoon, incensed at the decision, stormed out of the ring in tears, her trainer waving his hand in disagreement to the jeering, sold-out crowd.
Taylor expected the toughest fight of her career and was hanging on for survival at the end of 10 battering rounds of top class boxing.
Like a woman possessed, Persoon approached the ring thumping her face – and saved plenty of that gusto for the former Olympic gold medallist.
Taylor, in changed purple and gold apparel with white boots, comfortably took the opener but Persoon, awkward and unorthodox, gamely attacked with abandon – often skipping into the air landing overhead punches.
The police officer made herself hard to gauge, often switching to southpaw and had legitimate claims to the next two rounds.
Persoon’s reach advantage became problematic for Taylor too, preventing the 32-year-old from imposing her usual strategy of quickly engaging and retreating unscathed.
Taylor was landing her usual combos but Persoon was able to respond with her own as well as some direct and accurate jabs.
By the fifth, Taylor was on the back foot often finding herself on the ropes but comfortable enough to give Persoon the “bring it” gesture – even as a cut appeared on her nose.
Taylor was also using some effective check hooks to counter her 34-year-old opponent, opening a gash over her right eye and standing off a bit more – happy to take her time and probe for openings.
But Persoon, who had indicated all week a protracted contest would be to her advantage, outlanded Taylor 55-28 over the last 3 rounds and almost secured a knockdown in the last.
“I thought I definitely won the earlier rounds, she came on very strong in the end but I felt I did enough at the start of the fight to win the fight,” said Taylor immediately afterward.
“I knew it was definitely going to be the biggest night of my career, the hardest fight of my career, it definitely was that.”
“I’m definitely fine to give Delfine a rematch if she wants but there’s big fights out there for me, the obvious one is Amanda Serrano, I think that I’m happy to fight whoever’s put in front of me.”
But that’s for another day, Taylor will return to Ireland this week with the WBA, IBF, WBO and WBC straps, along with Ring Magazine’s commemorative “ring belt”.
President Michael D Higgins sent his congratulations to Taylor on Twitter. The President said: “My warmest congratulations to Katie Taylor on reaching the pinnacle of achievement in her sport, becoming the undisputed lightweight world champion.”
Minister for Sport Shane Ross Minister of State with responsibility for Sport Brendan Griffin also congratulated Taylor on her victory. “Huge congratulations to Katie Taylor," said Mr Ross. "Katie is one of Ireland’s greatest ever athletes," said Mr Griffin.