No fireworks but Katie Taylor gets the job done with ease

Jennifer Han proves a stubborn opponent but gulf in class is clear as Bray fighter goes 19-0

Katie Taylor flew back to her spiritual home in Bray for a short break. Jennifer Han jetted back to El Paso to reunite with her two boys, one with her 19th straight professional win the other with the biggest pay cheque she has ever had.

For the American with South Korean heritage, the journey to Headingly Stadium in Leeds on Saturday night, where she roundly lost to Taylor but at least offered consistent resistance and prevented the fight from being a Taylor procession, it was a career-high point.

Although Han had been featherweight World Champion in 2015, she couldn’t attract the kind of purse to keep her active before dropping out to have children and had moved up two weight divisions to take on the Irish undisputed lightweight world champion.

Taylor’s shaping of the boxing world has positioned her as a headline act and one of the principle cash cows in the women’s end of the sport.

Hers was the co-feature fight on the night along with local fighter Josh Warrington and Mauricio Lara, which was drawn following an accidental clash of heads in the second round, when doctors called it to an end. About 20,000 attended the show.

But as a mandatory challenger Taylor took what she was given and in a sometimes tough fight, that at the end became a series of clinches with Liverpool referee Mark Lyson constantly stepping in, the 100-89 clear cut decision to Taylor was both unanimous and no surprise.

Taylor, the left jab always working and trying to manoeuvre her right, left hook combinations, took time to groove her rhythm and lacked some distance and timing in the earlier phases.

That may sound churlish as Taylor was handsomely winning each round, a backing-off Han offering little but a stubborn ability to take what was coming and a long irritating left jab constantly in Taylor’s face to make the job more difficult on the night. That Taylor didn’t stop the fight within the 10 scheduled two minute rounds was a mild source of frustration for the champion.

“I definitely would have liked a stoppage tonight. But it takes two to tangle and she was very good at surviving, but a win is a win,” said Taylor.

“We definitely tried to push the pace in the last few rounds, but we knew it was shut-out victory. I tried to keep pushing it during the last few rounds. We were trying to force something.

“I can’t be too disappointed, I guess. All across the board it was a dominant victory. I don’t think there were any fireworks throughout the fight, but a win is a win and I happy with that.”

As boxing often goes, there was dispute. Han said it was Taylor doing the holding in the last few rounds and that the standing count given to her in the eighth round after she hit the canvas, was unwarranted. On replay Taylor had landed a few solid shots before Han went down but seemed to tangle her legs for the fall.

Still Lyson saw it differently and as Taylor pressed hard in the closing stages to pressurise her opponent and find a shut-out shot to move her KO count from six to seven, Han proved more durable than many had anticipated coming into the meeting. It was a job well done, no drama kind of night.

Once again, it is where Taylor will look for her next opponent, a bout that could take place in December according to manager Brian Peters. American two-weight World Champion, Jessica McCaskill, was in Leeds to watch the bout and her name is on the long list with that of French Olympic Champion Estelle Mossely and Amanda Serrano. Although rarely do the bigger names turn up as Taylor's next opponent, Delfine Persoon and London Olympian Natasha Jonas, being two notable exceptions.

“I guess when I turned pro a few years ago we didn’t know how this journey was going to go. So, it is amazing to see,” said Taylor. “All the big names are calling me out. It is a great position to be in.

“At the end of my career I would like to be a multi-weight undisputed world champion. It would be amazing and very special and it is very, very doable.”

One who will not be in the Taylor mix of opponents is current Olympic lightweight Champion Kellie Harrington, who announced on RTE's Late Late Show that she would be remaining amateur. That rules out any possible professional meeting between her and Taylor.

The 32-year-old may now defend her Olympic crown in Paris 2023, something that eluded Taylor in Rio 2016, where she was beaten in the quarter-final stage by Finland’s Mira Potkonen. The amateur boxing World Championships, which Harrington won in 2018, are also scheduled for later this year.