Katie Taylor will have the technical edge in her bout with Bustos

Irishwoman hoping for ninth professional win in Saturday’s bout with Argentinian champion

Katie Taylor and Victoria Bustos in New York. Photograph: Matt Heasley/Inpho

Katie Taylor and Victoria Bustos in New York. Photograph: Matt Heasley/Inpho

 

On Tuesday Katie Taylor moved south from her base in Connecticut into New York, a city that is becoming more familiar to the Irish WBA lightweight world champion. Taylor’s decision to go where her professional career takes her has been fruitful for the past 18 months, and this weekend in the Barclay Centre in Brooklyn she is hoping that eight professional wins will become nine in her unification bout with IBF champion Argentinean Victoria Bustos.

For both fighters it is a new experience. Taylor will meet a champion with 18 wins from 22 fights but one who has never before fought outside of Argentina. Bustos will step into the ring with a five-time world amateur champion and a boxer with technical ability that far exceeds anything the Argentinean has previously faced.

That has been a fact of life for all of Taylor’s opponents. The probability is no one will ever equal her amateur record.

It is early into Taylor’s ambition to unify all of the belts and step up into other divisions but, as much as her desire for success is wide-ranging, her focus is narrow. “Not an ounce of complacency. Never,” said her manager Brian Peters.

An almost hermetic life in Hartford beside where her coach Ross Enamait lives has been Taylor’s sacrifice to the professional game, with the unification bid coming just six months after beating Anahi Esther Sánchez for the WBA strap in the Principality Stadium on the undercard of Anthony Joshua.

Relatively inexperienced, Taylor has not wavered since her first win in November 2016 to Karina Kopinska or her first title defence last time out against American Jessica McCaskill in London’s Bethnal Green.

Mixed performances

It has gone all Taylor’s way in terms of results, although her performances, in her own estimation, have been mixed despite ending four of her eight fights before the final round.

Bustos, who is younger at 29 years old, last lost a bout in July 2017, to a fighter with a better record, Érica Anabella Farías (25-2). It is fair to say Bustos is not at the very top of her division, with Farías as well as Belgian Delfine Persoon (40-1-0), the WBC world title holder possible future opponents when the time is right.

Now that Taylor has a belt and perhaps two after this weekend, as well as a building audience, the fights she wants and needs will be made, although manager Brian Peters has been singing a familiar tune this week.

“We are having some problems getting opponents lined up and it is frustrating,” he said.

Although Bustos claims she will not make adjustments to counter Taylor’s natural ability, she will probably have to

Persoon and Farías will be among the future contenders. Farías at least is no stranger. As a 20-year-old amateur Taylor beat her to win her first world lightweight title in New Delhi in 2006 by a convincing 31-14 over three rounds.

Taylor goes into Saturday night’s bout 25-1 on, unreasonable for a two-horse race where one punch could end it, especially as Taylor, because she has done it so often before, is favourably disposed to going toe-to-toe.

Most talented

Unquestionably, she is the most talented in her division, but Taylor also likes to fight. Her father and former coach Pete couldn’t stop her doing it as an amateur and occasionally threw his eyes to heaven. It’s an oddly endearing wilful streak, a carefree instinct to go off script and front up to opponents at their own game, something Bustos would encourage Taylor to do.

This fight is another step up in quality and although Bustos claims she will not make adjustments to counter Taylor’s natural ability, she will probably have to. She won’t win a technical fight so she has to try another method as those before her have tried.

Elbows, fighting on the inside, closing down the ring, head clashes, all sorts of junk has been thrown and Taylor has endured. If she keeps her left guard up – leaving it low is another expression of confidence in her evasive ability and reaction time – and fights to her obvious strengths, behind her devastating left jab and with speed she will unify the IBF and WBA belts.

Katie is what Katie does. It has always been that way and will be again at third in the bill in New York’s Barclays Centre on Saturday night.

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