Linardatou stands in the way as Taylor bids to become a two-weight champion

‘It’s going to be a tough fight for her. There’s no doubt about that’ – Carruth

 Katie Taylor and Christina Linardatou face off ahead of their fight on Saturday  at Manchester Arena. Photograph:  Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Katie Taylor and Christina Linardatou face off ahead of their fight on Saturday at Manchester Arena. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

 

There has been some epic double bluffing over the past couple of months. And when Christina Linardatou’s manger, the former professional Brian Cohen, pronounced in September that she wasn’t a natural light-welterweight (140lbs) and that she wasn’t even a natural lightweight (135lbs) but a puffed up super-featherweight (130lbs), Katie Taylor might have begun to feel better about taking this fight.

Linardatou puts her WBO light-welterweight world title on the line this weekend in the Manchester Arena as Taylor bids to step up and become a two-weight world champion for the first time.

By Cohen’s reckoning, the Dominican Republic native, who lives in Athens in Greece, has been trading in a division about 10 pounds heavier than her natural weight. The thing is Linardatou’s past bears out what Cohen has been saying.

In July 2018 the 31-year-old fought and beat Alycia Baumgardner for a WBC super featherweight title, while in June the year before she fought against Delfine Persoon for a lightweight title, which was her only defeat in 13 bouts to date.

It was Persoon who fought and controversially lost to Taylor in Madison Square garden in her last outing, which gave Taylor the WBC belt she had been looking for to unify the lightweight division.

But the change in weight is always a step into the unknown and if the Dominican boxer is 10 pounds above her natural weight then her conditioning could be an issue.

Michael Carruth, who won his gold medal in 1992 as an amateur welterweight believes Taylor won’t be disrupted by the possible five pounds in difference.

“It can work for you and it can’t work for you. Katie has been making 60 Kg forever and ever,” said Carruth. “Sometimes it can be hard to hit. For me it would have been but I don’t think it is for her. So she’s going to put a few kilos on.

“Punch power I don’t think there is going to be much difference. It’s one of those things. She’s doing it because she wants to be champion of the world and it’s going to be a tough fight for her. There’s no doubt about that. You don’t get easy fights for unified titles.

Heavier weight

“Katie has a punch particularly in that left hook. Katie will spar guys and girls heavier than her so she will be used to getting hit harder by other people. That’s what you do. You don’t spar people the same weight, you spar people heavier than you and lighter than you. The ones that are lighter get you faster, the ones that are heavier get you tougher and she’s going to have that in abundance.”

Linardatou has taken her last two bouts at the heavier weight. Both of those fights took place this year. She won the first against Canadian Kandi Wyatt by TKO and in the most recent bout last June she defeated Australian Deanha Hobbs by unanimous decision over 10 rounds for her current world title.

But largely she has been inactive. Since the end of 2016 Linardatou has had just three fights. In almost exactly the same time frame since after the Rio Olympics, Taylor has fought and won 14 times and collected four world titles.

But even if she has been seldom seen since 2016, Cohen knows how to sell his fighter for the headline bout of the night.

At their press conference in September he told the boxing world that they should expect an ‘Ali-Frazier’-type war and described Linardatou as a “bloodthirsty savage” and an “absolute animal.”

Christina ‘Medusa’ or Christina ‘Black Mamba’ Linardtou was signed in August 2019 by Lou DiBella, president of DiBella Entertainment.

“With her fan-friendly style and willingness to fight anywhere in the world, Christina will become a big star in women’s boxing,” said the fast-talking New Yorker.

“Her manager Brian Cohen and I have very big plans and we are excited to see her career grow from here. I’m honoured to bring another world champion into the DiBella family.”

For how long the world champion status lasts will be decided on Saturday night.

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