Katie Taylor plans to fight professionally

Olympic gold medallist is hoping to fight in the World Boxing Series later this year

Olympic gold Mndallist Katie Taylor, with Marino College Dublin pupils Jessica Kirwan and Abuduhl Alsfadi at the launch of the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative. Photograph: David Maher/Sportsfile

Olympic gold Mndallist Katie Taylor, with Marino College Dublin pupils Jessica Kirwan and Abuduhl Alsfadi at the launch of the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative. Photograph: David Maher/Sportsfile

 

Olympic gold medallist and world champion Katie Taylor is planning to fight professionally this year for the first time in her career and is also in the process of organising an amateur bout against top American amateur Queen Underwood.

Underwood is the boxer who came closest to beating the Irish fighter in the 2010 World Championship semi-finals in Barbados during a rousing final round in which the American came back before the Taylor took the fight 18-16.

The 26-year-old Bray native is currently working towards winning her fifth successive EU Championship in Hungary at the end of next month but has also spent some time lining up her entry into the professional World Series of Boxing (WSB).

Since winning her gold medal in London last August the lightweight was hoping to have fought this year in a European Championship event hosted by Ireland. But that fell through leaving just the EU Championships.

Following that event there is precious little on the amateur calendar on which the gold medallist can focus, which leaves her time to dip her toe into the professional ranks, where Olympic medallists John Joe Nevin, Joe Ward and Ken Egan have all successfully competed, although a broken jaw last year jeopardised Nevin’s Olympic Games preparation.

‘Big contest’
“After the EU Championships Katie has been talking about fighting in the WSB in and around September or October. We are also planning to box Queen Underwood over here in Dublin. That will be a big contest,” said her father and coach Pete yesterday.

“There are no women boxing in the WSB so it will be the first female fight in the competition against another girl. It’s going to be interesting. It won’t be Queen Underwood in the WSB but someone else. We don’t yet know who that will be.”

The WSB is the professional wing of amateur boxing. As the sport moves away from head gear and the title “amateur” and towards a more evenly professional sport, the WSB has been the transitional event in which amateur boxers compete for prize money.

“It will be another first,” added Pete. “I think the bout is going to be over eight two-minute rounds. We just need to find out exactly what it entails, the head gear, no head gear . . . there’s a few things to be investigated first. It’s exciting times ahead . . . there haven’t been that many international tournaments for her this year anyway.”

Long term
With a long-term view stretching as far as the Rio Olympics in 2016, the EU Championships are this year’s focus and having gotten over an injury to her left hand, they are now the short term goal. In preparation, it is hoped that she will take part in two international bouts against a German team that will travel to Ireland in the first week of June, although yesterday there were minor doubts about that taking place.

“I need to get a couple of fights in before the EU Championships, so it would be great for Germany to come over,” said Katie yesterday. “The preparations have being going brilliantly and I’m back sparring after my hand injury. Everything has been going really well and it will be my first major competition since the Olympics.”

In Dublin to promote Sky Sports “Living for Sport”, an initiative to encourage secondary school children to take part in sport, she knows she has become a bigger target since London 2012

“It’s always a huge challenge trying to defend titles and they are all out to get me now . . .” she said. “I’d love to come back with a gold medal and build on last year, so it’s going to be an exciting few weeks.”