Little time for Katie Taylor to celebrate perfect record
Irish boxer returns to US to prepare for next fight on March 25th in Manchester Arena
Katie Taylor after knocking down Monica Gentili in the fifth round of their six-round fight in London. Photograph: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
No rest for the wicked, and Katie Taylor was most certainly wicked last Saturday night. The former Olympic champion bettered and battered Italian Monica Gentili in London’s O2 Arena, but despite the bout being Taylor’s third in a little over three months she will be back in the gym less than 48 hours later.
Catching a flight to Connecticut, US, on Sunday to resume training under coach Ross Enamait was the priority ahead of any celebrations following Taylor’s latest victory over a clearly inferior opponent.
“I have to get back to it on Monday, to be honest, since I have the [next] fight in a few weeks,” said Taylor, referring to a March 25th fight date in Manchester.
“I’m flying over to America for the next couple of weeks, and I’ll be back in the gym on Monday preparing for the next fight. It’s a busy schedule.”
That’s putting it mildly as Taylor’s hectic fight plan is already starting to resemble a throwback fighter from the 1930s or 1940s.
Her ring return in Manchester later this month will be followed by an undercard appearance in support of the world heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in late April.
Taylor is then likely to travel to the US for a summer bout, while promoter Eddie Hearn has suggested that all roads lead to a September world-title date – possibly in Dublin – should all go to plan.
“I’m just looking forward to a busy year, really. I don’t care where the fights are, I just want to keep progressing, and I want the opponents to step up,” said the 30-year-old. “I have to get a few more eight-rounders and 10-rounders under my belt as well before stepping up to world titles.
Coach Enamait was happy with the performance, and intends to get Taylor back in training later Monday. “She didn’t take too many shots, so she’ll probably spar this week. We’ll be back in the gym on Monday. We’ll be back in America for two weeks to spar, and then we’ll come back to England for the last week.
“We’ll pick it up as usual…She didn’t take a tonne of punishment or abuse [against Gentili] and it wasn’t too tough to make the weight, so her body’s actually in pretty good shape. We’ll go into the gym later on Monday, and she’ll be ready to go.”
A late replacement opponent for Taylor, 39-year-old Italian Gentili proved to be a game foe but was clearly outclassed. The Lazio native was forced to the canvas after a barrage of blows from the Bray woman in the fifth round of their clash scheduled for six rounds.
Following the withdrawal of Bulgarian world-title challenger Milena Koleva due to illness, Gentili stepped in. But carrying a 6-6 record into the fight, it never appeared likely that the Italian would present Taylor with a challenge worthy of her talents in the chief support bout to Tony Bellew’s heavyweight upset victory over David Haye.
“No matter who I’m in there against, there’s always going to be someone to criticise [me] , but I’m not really too concerned about what people say,” said Taylor on the suggestion she is not fighting at her level. “I definitely feel like I should be in there with better opponents, but there’s nothing I can do about that.
Sporting a bruised forehead after taking a number of heavy blows prior to the referee Bob Williams’ fifth-round stoppage, Gentili admitted that she had been bettered and battered by a far superior opponent.
“Yes, it was very hard,” the Italian said. “I thought she [Taylor] was a good fighter, but she was even better [than I expected].
“She was too fast, but I’m happy because I got to fight here against her. It was an honour to fight her, so I’m happy,” Gentili added before laughing that Taylor punches “hard”.
That was notable as Taylor’s previous opponent, Brazilian Viviane Obenauf, had claimed that the Bray woman lacks the punching power needed for pro boxing following their December bout.
Taylor was possibly better prepared for this outing as she had come through a seven-week training camp with Enamait at his Connecticut base, while the bout was set at the professional lightweight limit of 135lb – three pounds heavier than Taylor’s first two pro fights.
“I definitely felt a lot stronger, and it was great not to have to lose the extra few pounds as well,” said Taylor. “It was a great feeling to get the stoppage in the end and to actually see someone going down as well.”