Katie Taylor: It doesn’t matter if I’m the underdog or favourite

Not since the beginning of her amateur career has she not been the favourite

Irish fighter Katie Taylor in New York ahead of her showdown with Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Nothing of the big occasion is new to Katie Taylor. This week that has been as it always was, except for one thing. The bookies have her opponent Puerto Rican- American, Amanda Serrano down as favourite to win the biggest fight ever staged in women's boxing.

Not since the beginning of her amateur career, when she exploded onto the scene to win her first of five European championships in 2005, has Taylor not been favourite to emerge as the winner.

She became world champion for the first time a year later in New Delhi 2006 and since then throughout her amateur and professional careers now spanning almost 20 years, she has never been anything but the favourite.

According to Matchroom, the promotion company of Taylor run by Eddie Hearn, Saturday night's bout in Madison Square Garden is also tracking nicely to be a sell out in the 20,000 capacity arena.


“It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m seen as the underdog or the favourite,” said Taylor on Thursday ahead of her press conference in Madison Square Garden.

“I don’t take any notice of that . . . even as an amateur boxer. Even in my years as a pro I couldn’t tell you whether I was the underdog or the favourite. I couldn’t care about other people’s opinions.

“What matters is what I think about the fight and where my mindset is. That’s all that matters to me. I feel in great shape, and I am ready to put on a performance and make history.”

Serrano, who is a seven-weight champion against Taylor, the undisputed lightweight world champion, had been talked about years ago but the fight just never happened. Covid then intervened over the past two years to push out the meeting of the pair even further. But money and timing appeared to be the deciding factors.


“She was obviously known as the one of the pound-for-pound fighters as a pro and these are the kind of fights I have always wanted. But when the fight fell through a couple of times, I was definitely thinking that the fight is not going to happen and it would have been an awful shame if the fight didn’t happen.

“I was hoping that it wasn’t going to be one of those Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather type of fights which happens years later. It is great that it is happening when both of us are in our prime.

“I don’t know if she was avoiding me or what the issue was with the fight that fell through that time. She was saying it was a money issue. I am very glad now that the fight did fall through because the fight is bigger now than it ever was. We are obviously making a lot more money than we would have made a couple of years back as well.”

While the doubters are clearly placing their money on the local fighter from Brooklyn, Taylor remains bullish about her chances. Apart from one year prior to and during the 2016 Olympic Games her entire career has been a winning career.

The only doubt since turning professional after Rio was the first of her two fights against the Belgian Delfine Persoon in 2019, when her four titles, the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight belts were on the line. They are again up for grabs on Saturday.

Many people believe she lost the bout. The second meeting between the pair was a clear win for the 35-year-old from Bray. But since then questions have been asked about her vulnerability against tough, uncompromising opponents.

“Of course, I am expecting the decision on Saturday night,” quipped the world champion, when asked if she expected to still be the champion on Sunday morning. “I don’t go into any final expecting to lose. I train to win and I am expecting to come out victorious. If anything didn’t go my way that would be a very, very disappointing night.

“I am prepared for a very tough challenge. She is a great fighter and a great champion and these are the sort of challenges I absolutely love. These are the fights you dream of as a kid - champion v champion, the best versus the best and headlining in Madison Square Garden.”

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times