Eddie Hearn: Katie Taylor is trading fame for success

‘She’s my favourite fighter, because I’ve never met anyone more driven and single-minded’

Katie Taylor can unify the lightweight division in New York this weekend. Photograph: Jeff Fusco/Inpho

Katie Taylor can unify the lightweight division in New York this weekend. Photograph: Jeff Fusco/Inpho

 

Katie Taylor’s promoter believes she has denied herself the chance to become one of the world’s most famous female athletes to instead become one of its most successful.

On Saturday at New York’s Madison Square Garden the 32-year-old will fight Delfine Persoon to win the Belgian’s WBC title and therefore to unify all four of the world lightweight titles.

Victory would make her only the seventh fighter of the four-belt era to become an undisputed world champion, and the third woman, but her promoter Eddie Hearn believes she could have had the profile given to Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, Maria Sharapova and others.

Taylor is perhaps Ireland’s most successful active athlete and the finest female fighter in the world. She has also already had a documentary made about her which she has so far refused to watch.

After IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua she is expected to be the most passionately supported fighter on Saturday’s bill, but Hearn said: “She could be a bigger star but it’s endearing (she doesn’t try to be).

“That’s part of her qualities and her attraction; she’s this quiet little girl who hides away and lives like a monk to achieve what she wants to achieve.

“She could be like the Ronda Rouseys of this world, but she’s not interested in talking rubbish and cheap publicity stunts, and that’s one of the reasons we love her. If she did she could fill this place on her own.

“She’s turned down sponsorship deals and turned down media opportunities, but I admire that because that’s what she’s about.

“She’s my favourite fighter, because I’ve never met anyone more driven and single-minded. She’ll do exactly what she wants to do; her whole life revolves around boxing and she won’t do anything that gets in the way of her boxing, or her training.

“The atmosphere in the arena will be phenomenal. When she fights now the numbers are huge; she’s selling tickets; everyone in Ireland’s watching. We’re underestimating the draw of Katie Taylor; every time she’s boxed in America she’s stolen the show, and she may well do it again on Saturday.”

As an outstanding amateur Taylor won five world titles, six European titles and Olympic gold at London 2012, but even amid that success she believes only when she has become an undisputed professional champion will she have reached the “pinnacle” of her sport.

“For her to say this is the biggest moment of her career shows you how important it is,” Hearn added. “Hopefully she gets the win.

“She’s still got to win on Saturday, but if she does she’s pound-for-pound the number one in women’s boxing, and the pound-for-pound best (I’ll have worked with); blend them all in, she’s top five pound-for-pound, combining men and women.”

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