There is an additional imperative for Katie Taylor beyond claiming her third world title belt in Philadelphia on Friday night (Saturday morning Irish time). Should she win the Irish lightweight, who faces WBO champion Rose Volante, has been confirmed as an undercard bout on the Anthony Joshua v Jarrell Miller heavyweight clash at Madison Square Garden on June 1st.
It has been Taylor’s ambition since she first turned professional after the Rio Olympics in 2016 to hold the four credible titles.
Taylor rarely assumes anything, but barring defeat at the hands of the 36-year-old Brazilian she will meet Belgium’s WBC champion Delfine Persoon in the unification bout.
"Delfine Persoon actually won at the weekend, impressive stoppage, and if Katie can get past Volante at the weekend we want to make the undisputed fight on the AJ card at Madison Square Garden," said Taylor's promoter Eddie Hearn.
The past few weeks have been typically understated even for Taylor, with very little emanating from her base outside Hartford in Connecticut. A public training session early in the week with trainer Ross Enamait drew some attention. But it has been heads down for the Bray 32-year-old.
“I know the danger that Rose Volante brings to the table. She’s a very strong fighter, she’s an undefeated fighter, she has a big right hand and all of her other opponents can testify to that,” said Taylor this week.
Volante, who does not have the amateur pedigree of Taylor, has stopped both of her challengers since she first won the WBO belt in December 2017. Her most recent fight was against Colombian Yolis Marrugo Franco last September, which she won by TKO.
That came as no surprise as Franco is 42 years old, and has been beaten 11 times in 38 outings. Two of those defeats came in her last three bouts.
Again the fight was in Praia Grande, making it the 13th time Volante has fought in her home country. She has never boxed outside South America, and just once outside Brazil, in contrast to Taylor, who has never had a professional bout in Ireland after 12 outings. The likelihood of a bout in Dublin in the near future is remote.
What has been a feature of all Taylor’s fights to date has been her speed, which nobody yet has matched. That natural asset she carried with her from the amateur ranks. It will be the obvious challenge for Volante, who has a heavy right. How to overcome the difficulty of discharging it with accuracy against the best mover in boxing is a problem nobody yet has managed to solve.
Taylor is also technically better than all of her opponents, and while she sometimes chooses to go to war, she doesn’t have to as she could win sitting behind her jab. Hand speed too is exceptional. The big right will have to land if Volante is to hold on to her WBO title.
Taylor clearly has form, pedigree and probably the bulk of the Philadelphia support as well, although that will vastly increase if she earns her place on the New York card.
Headlining on Friday night in the 10,000-seater Liacouras Centre is Dublin's unbeaten Jono Carroll, who faces his first world title fight against hometown Tevin Farmer for the IBF world super-featherweight title.
On St Patrick's Day, Michael Conlan steps inside the ropes to defend his recently-earned WBO inter-continental featherweight title against Ruben Hernandez-Garcia, while Paddy Barnes is hoping for a rebound against Texan Oscar Mojica over six-rounds at bantamweight.
The classy Conlan is bidding for his 11th straight win in the 10-round contest. The younger Hernandez is more experienced than the 27-year-old Belfast fighter and has won 24 of his 29 fights, but lost a world title fight in 2017 to Nonito Donaire. It was Donaire who lost to Carl Frampton in Belfast last April.
It is probably Conlan's toughest opponent to date as he makes his way towards the top. A win for the former amateur World Champion could see him lined up against Vladimir Nikitin later this year. The Russian turned professional after controversially getting the decision over Conlan in the Rio Olympics in 2016 before withdrawing from the competition because of the injuries inflicted by the Irishman.
Friday, March 15th - Liacouras Center, Philadelphia
Tevin Farmer v Jono Carroll (IBF World Super Featherweight title); Katie Taylor v Rose Volante (IBF, WBA, WBO World Female Lightweight titles)
Coverage starts at 1am (early hours of Saturday) on Sky Sports Action and NOW TV
Sunday, March 17th - Madison Square Garden, New York
Michael Conlan v Ruben Garcia Hernandez
Coverage starts at 1am (early hours of Monday) on Box Nation