Slick Katie Taylor unifies world lightweight titles in New York
Taylor adds IBF belt to her WBA title after unanimous win over Victoria Bustos
Katie Taylor with her WBA and IBF belts after her unanimous points win over Victoria Bustos. Photograph: Elsa/Getty
Taylor, in her ninth professional bout, was awarded the fight 99-91, 99-91, 98-92 on the cards after a supreme display at the Barclays Centre.
Victory saw her claim the IBF lightweight title, to add to the WBA belt she secured in Cardiff last October.
Fighting on the undercard of Daniel Jacobs’ middleweight clash with Maciej Sulecki, 31-year-old Taylor was stepping into the ring with a fighter two years her junior but with more experience in the professional ranks.
Indeed this was Bustos’ 23rd pro bout and the sixth defence of her IBF title - however it was also her first fight outside of Argentina.
Taylor meanwhile was making the second defence of her WBA belt, following on from her win over America’s Jessica McCaskill in London last December.
And it was the Bray fighter who started the brightest in the Big Apple, showing her usual speed and snap to dominate the opening rounds against her younger opponent.
Taylor refused to engage Bustos on the inside - stepping in and out of range and controlling the ring beautifully - and her dominance was reflected in the judges’ cards.
Despite being comprehensively outgunned Bustos proved her durability, and she dragged Taylor into a firefight in the seventh and eighth - landing one particularly good uppercut in the latter - but the WBA champion was more than equal to the challenge when trading in the middle of the ring.
Bustos entered the last knowing she needed to knock Taylor out but she struggled to lay a glove on the former five-time world amateur champion, who saw out the final round with aplomb to seal a fine performance.
After her victory, Taylor said ringside: “I’m just so, so happy right now. As I’ve said before it’s always been my dream to unify this title. It was a tough tough contest, I had to work for every second of every round.
“She was obviously a proven champion coming into this fight so I knew I had to be sharp.”
And she suggested her ninth professional bout saw arguably her finest performance so far: “Possibly, because I knew the quality of opposition was much higher than before and it was definitely a tough, tough contest. I had to be clever right from the start.
“She’s a clever counter-puncher and she came on strong near the end. I think I mixed it up well between boxing and fighting tonight. She just kept coming, and coming.
“I was prepared for a tough 10 round fight today and I needed to be sharp for 10 rounds. I need to thank my team for all the preparation, it’s been a great camp. Ross [Enamait, trainer] is definitely the mastermind behind everything I do in there and I wouldn’t be in this position without him.
“I probably stood there a bit too much [in the eighth], there’s probably a bit too much fight in me sometimes, but it’s great to entertain the crowd as well.”
Taylor went on to reiterate her goal of unifying the division and becoming the undisputed lightweight champion of the world: “I’m there to fight anyone, any of the champions. I’ve said before I’m lucky to have some great champions in my weight division.
“There’s some great fights out there to be made and I won’t those belts by the end of the year for sure.”
And her sentiments were echoed by promoter Eddie Hearn: “We sat in the office a year-and-a-half ago with a plan to become the undisputed world champion.
“Tonight she’s unified the belts against a very good fighter. Bustos deserves a lot of credit - she was immensely tough in there.
“Two belts down, two to go. It’s just a brilliant story. Katie Taylor, lighting up both sides of the Atlantic. We know they love her in the UK, Ireland; now they’re going to love her in America as well.
“We’ve got two more and we’d love to do it in 2018. Clean up the division in 2018 and maybe even move up. There’s some really big fights out there.”
After another supreme performance, it surely won’t be long before Taylor has ownership of all four belts.