Katie Taylor semi-pleased but not thrilled by latest victory

Olympic gold medallist sees off tough Brazilian opponent in her second pro fight

Katie Taylor in action against Viviane Obenauf in Manchester on Saturday. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Livepic via Reuters

Her perilous world was sickeningly illustrated a few bouts before Katie Taylor entered the Manchester Arena ring. When Luke Blackledge walked into the driving fist of British super-middleweight champion Callum Smith, Blackledge fell unconscious before his limp body hit the canvas. Another talented, hopeful, wannabe world champion lay motionless for minutes as doctors efficiently fussed and applied the oxygen mask.

To that backdrop British heavyweight Tony Bellew stood up from his ring side seat pointing and accusing finger at his March opponent, David Haye.

“There’s nothing good about that,” screamed Bellew alternately pointing at Haye and the pitiful scene in the ring. “You f**king coward,” repeated Bellew, who had been punched by Haye at a press conference.

That’s now Taylor’s world as if she needed reminding. When her opponent Viviane Obenauf called to her dressing room after the bout, the three stitches and oozing left eye was still trickling blood.



A nice gesture from Obenauf, but the Swiss-based Brazilian’s real parting shot was that Taylor is good enough to become world champion but only if she hits harder.Taylor was regarded as a hard hitter in the amateurs. So it goes in fighting for a living.

The London gold medallist was semi-pleased with her unanimous decision win but left some things in the ring that remained a source of frustration. Part of it was that she is determined to impress and didn’t feel Saturday in Manchester reached those exacting standards.

The good things were obvious. Her left jab and combinations, her superior footwork and left backhand were strong. Her ability to dominate the ring and vary her shots to body and up top were all there from the moment an American set piece called Michael Buffer announced her to the lively crowd.

From round one the left jab was stinging as always and before long Taylor was landing combinations. But Obenauf was not afraid to come forward, her offensive lunges dangerous and awkward. But a hard left rocked the Brazilian at the end of the round leaving her in no doubt.

Taylor followed that up at the beginning of the second round when she floored Obenauf. The 30-year-old protested and looked fresh but the count was given.

Taylor continued to control the fight and landed more, but Obenauf hit back from the knockdown to rally, a left knocking Taylor back on the ropes at the beginning of the third round.

Superior footwork

Clearly a different class to Karina Kopinska in Wembley two weeks before, Obenauf was swinging freely. But superior footwork from Taylor kept her from trouble.

The fifth round was when the blood arrived under Obenauf’s left eye and neither boxer was certain if it was a punch or clash.

“I think it was a head clash to be honest,” said Taylor afterwards. By then the tempo had dropped but Obenauf was still lunging and fighting, something Taylor will face in later bouts.

That durability and engine in Obenauf and her wiliness in messing up things and being doggedly aggressive was a new experience. In short Obenauf’s ability to fight and try scrap out a win against the better technical and faster boxer, Taylor, was clear. She would not fold.

Taylor's coach, American Ross Enamait, felt she could have had an easier evening in countering Obenauf instead of backing off or swivelling out of contact. Taylor, he believed, in this match up should have been a front-foot boxer.

“She was better off being on the front foot,” said Enamait. “That girl didn’t fight very well going backwards and she really didn’t know how to fight inside.

“If you wait on that girl you’re really going to give her chances to be awkward. She can give girls problems. You know she was a pretty strong girl. She didn’t counter very well, she was taking shots, but durable.

Good experience

“There is obviously a reason people don’t fight every two weeks,” added the American. “It was a good experience for her and they were six tough rounds. She still dominated the fight so I was happy with that.”

It was, said Taylor afterwards “a good way to end the year.” And so it was. Her career could have fizzled away in the disappointment of three defeats at amateur level, culminating in an early exit in Rio in defence of her Olympic gold.

Rio was not so long ago but the energy and breadth of where she is now has pushed it into a distant past.

“I think I could,” said Taylor when asked if she felt she could have ended the fight before the distance. “I tried but as I said I just felt a bit tired. I couldn’t . . . I was in second gear. But at the same time I got in the six rounds and that was a good experience.”

Now it is rest, chocolate, maybe Wembley Stadium and maybe Madison Square Garden. Not so bad.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times