Katie Taylor dodges the noise ahead of world title defence
Bray boxer will put her lightweight belt on the line for the first time this Wednesday
WBA lightweight world champion Katie Taylor with challenger Jessica McCaskill at the pre-fight press conference. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Possessing just a scintilla of hubris, Katie Taylor will be irked by having to carry Jessica McCaskill’s camp accusations with her into the ring at London’s Bethnal Green on Wednesday night.
That Taylor, according to the American’s manager and trainer Rick Ramos, “disrespected women’s boxing” remains blowing in the wind. But it may come back to haunt McCaskill, when she faces the Irish 31-year-old for the WBA lightweight title in the first defence of a belt Taylor won just weeks ago.
Promoter Eddie Hearn observed on Monday that sometimes making a lot of noise earns you ink space and, in the boiler room of professional boxing, publicity drives momentum.
A 33-year-old from Chicago, McCaskill has shoveled enough coal into the fire to bring the temperature up and it arrives with barely concealed irony.
Taylor’s career has been fighting as much for respect as for world titles and Olympic medals. The two have come with the territory since they first told her she couldn’t box as a 12-year-old girl. But who wants a history lesson?
“Sometimes in boxing you have to make noise to get the opportunity and certainly Team McCaskill have made a lot of noise over the last couple of months,” Hearn told Boxing Social on Monday in London.
“They’ve got their opportunity because she is highly-ranked with the WBA but secondly because they made a lot of noise. It’s the first time I’ve seen the bit between Katie Taylor’s teeth.”
That may or may not be a good thing as Taylor’s inclination is to sometimes go for a hit out during rounds. Toe-to-toe exchanges might raise the tempo and make fights, but Taylor’s strength has always been the excellence of her orthodoxy, speed, jab, tempo, technical surety.
Even there the American challenger claims to have seen a chink with the more durable fighters having landed on Taylor during the dizzy speed of her upwards curve. Taylor emerged with a ripe eye after her win over Argentina’s Anahi Esther Sanchez for the lightweight strap six weeks ago.
“We had a great camp and we’re ready to get going. I think there are a lot of opportunities in this fight,” said McCaskill.
“A lot of the good things you see about Katie Taylor are in highlights. If you watch the actual fight there is a lot of mistakes. There are opportunities there and I intend on taking advantage of that.”
Taylor hasn’t moved from the position she was at when she came to Dublin last month. The bit between her teeth or not, her mantra has remained the same and the words from London on Monday were the same as the words in Dublin in November.
Her focus has not moved or changed, her ambitions have not narrowed or shrunk and her faith in her ability has not diminished.
Hearn has mentioned multiple divisions at multiple weights against fighters from other disciplines (Holly Holm). But, for now, York Hall on Wednesday at around 10pm is Taylor’s principle concern.
“My dream is to unify the division. I’m not looking past Wednesday, my aim is to win to set me up nicely for a big, big year in 2018,” repeated Taylor.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen this quickly that I would headline a card.”
Nor did anyone else. It’s the first boxing event Sky has shown on this side of the world where a female boxer is the headline act. Illustrative of the network’s willingness to promote Taylor, it seems now almost too big a project to fail.
There’s no doubt the amateur world champion has been moving at break neck speed through the professional ranks. McCaskill, who works in the city for a bank, has had six fights since August 2015. Full-time Taylor has had six fights since the end of last year.
“This is the sort of platform I’ve always wanted where I headline my own show,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful card to be boxing on in such an historic venue.”
Always a believer Taylor’s trainer Ross Enamait believes class is permanent. “McCaskill’s strong and tough but Katie’s a born fighter. There’s levels in boxing and they will find that out on Wednesday night.”
There is a ring of truth in that.