Katie Taylor ends 2021 with 20th pro win as eyes turn to Amanda Serrano

35-year-old lacks sparkle against Sharipova but champion’s victory never in doubt

Katie Taylor was made to work hard for her victory over Firuza Sharipova. Photograph: Paul Greenwood/INpho

Within moments of being over, it was over. It took Katie Taylor and her team less than five minutes to turn the page to 2022 after her unanimous win in Liverpool's M&S Bank Arena after a fight that was rougher and tougher than most people expected.

In the end the winner was in no doubt and Taylor retained her title of undisputed champion of the lightweight division as her suite of skills, that have now held off 15 challenges to her world titles, were dominant over 10 rounds against Kazakhstan’s Firuza Sharipova.

Taylor’s speed, her movement and technical ability, the skills that have served her so well through an amateur career and now also in the professional ranks, earned a 98-92, 97-92, 96-93 win.

Dripping with perspiration and with her promoter Eddie Hearn by her side after the bout, focus instantly shifted to New York.


"The plan is 100 per cent Amanda Serrano Madison Square Garden," said Hearn. "It's the biggest fight in women's boxing. Katie has been wanting that fight for a long time. She is the undisputed champion. She has boxed two mandatory fights in the last 12, 13 weeks. They are out of the way. She's taken care of her obligations.

“It’s now time to make the historic fight in Madison Square Garden. That’s the fight people want to see, the biggest fight of all time in women’s boxing.”

Katie Taylor made it 20 pro wins out of 20 in Liverpool on Saturday night. Photograph: Mark Robinson/Inpho

For her own part Taylor was as she usually is, stoically positive. She knew that she had been drawn into a scrappy affair that at times got messy and midway through earned Sharipova a point deduction. But she has been rarely one to complain about either her own performance or her opponent’s rough house tactics, which clearly, at times knocked her out of her rhythm.

“She definitely was a tough fight. We were definitely well aware of the challenge,” said Taylor. “She was a good amateur. She has a good amateur pedigree. We knew she was technically very good so we were preparing for a tough fight. It went exactly as we planned

“She was very scrappy inside. She was holding a lot inside and it was hard to get off of. Overall my 20th fight, my 20th win so I can’t complain.”


Eyes will now turn to Serrano, who faces Miriam Gutierrez next weekend. Taylor beat Gutierrez four fights back in the Wembley Arena in 2020 by unanimous decision. The Spanish fighter beating Serrano would not just be surprising but queer the pitch for the mega meeting in midtown Manhattan next April.

If Taylor was looking for any criticism, it was that she was not at her dazzling best in Liverpool, or perhaps Sharipova didn’t allow her to be. With echoes of Delfine Persoon, the other boxer who caused Taylor problems with good fitness, technical ability and a scrapping forward hustling style, the fight was all the closer for it, although never in doubt.

Taylor, trying to punch off her left jab and keep distance using her speed and footwork was drawn into scrappy exchanges as Sharipova landed scoring shots too. But Taylor scored the cleaner points by far and more of them.

Sharipova won two or three rounds at most with referee John Latham stepping in during the sixth round to warn the Kazakh challenger, who suffered a cut over her right eye in the previous round after an accidental clash of heads.

But that’s how the fight unfolded, Sharipova happy to get close and roughly work inside and keep Taylor from her distance ploy of snappy left jabs and a dangerous backhand.

The overall effect was damage limitation by the challenger and hoping to catch Taylor with something that would hurt her. Really it didn’t look like happening even in the final toe to toe round.

By then the fight had been decided, and nothing but a knockout would have changed the result. For Taylor, who has had just one stoppage against Rose Volante since 2018, the night was another success from her walk on to the sound track of 'There She Goes' by The La's to the scoring cards of the judges.

She has never been a fighter whose tactics have ever been to simply emerge after 10 rounds on the right side of battles. But unmistakably some of the fizz and sparkle of the 35-year-old has not been in evidence for her last number of fights.

A rediscovery of that eye-catching panache for the Serrano meeting, if it finally happens, would be more than reassuring.