Thoughts of four crowns sit lightly with Katie Taylor
Taylor’s eyes already on next fight which will take place in the UK in July
Katie Taylor at the County Club, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, on Thursday. “I’d love to unify the division, that’s my ambition.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
There is discolouring under her eyes. A thin smear of bruising, but little other sign that Katie Taylor schooled Victoria Bustos for 10 rounds on Saturday to unify the IBF and WBA lightweight belts.
Her simple mantra – a boxing life dedicated to beating everybody, winning everything – has become almost existential. Despite the grandeur, thoughts of four lightweight crowns sit lightly. There is no name out there she can think of who is an existential threat to Katie Taylor.
Coming from another it could seem her mouth is running over, brash and arrogant. But Taylor’s understated marriage of respect, humility and lofty ambition seem comfortably within her like an academic plotting a doctorate thesis.
“I don’t know what they’re saying,” she says, untroubled by the attitude of her opponents. “I’d love to unify the division, that’s my ambition. I’m not sure if it’s going to happen this year. The politics of the whole thing.
“I would love to have the fights made a lot easier alright. But I don’t hear too much about it. I don’t want to hear or talk about that.”
In Ireland for two weeks before launching into another head-down training camp outside Hartford, Connecticut in the US where she has found an apartment, a gym and a church, Taylor’s eyes are already fixed on her next fight, which will take place in Britain in July.
She hopes to have three fights before the end of the year, with two more in the US. In that narrative the Katie homecoming to Ireland must wait for the wheels of commerce to grind into next year.
“We’ve had talks with the powers that be, and they’ve advised us the climate is not conducive to having a fight night [in Dublin],” says manager Brian Peters.
There is a suggestion it is because of MTK, the company that issued a video denying any connection with the Kinahan family.
“I’m not sure,” replies Peters. “If you want to run a show there are sanctioning bodies, the Garda...there are a whole load of boxes you have to tick to put on a show.”
Katie’s fight with Bustos, which leaves her (9-0), was shown live on Sky, but only a short highlights slot was aired on the US HBO channel, which is part of her agenda in cracking the US market.
“Yeah, a 10-second highlight reel!” she laughs. “The fight was shown on Sky Sports anyway. I think there’s been a step forward in America. And even just the reaction from the US journalists was very positive after the fight. Even the fact that they’re showing a few highlights is a step forward, I guess.”
She didn’t realise it but hours before the fight went ahead it was almost cancelled. In a flurry of activity experts were summoned when doctors questioned the lesion on the lip of the Argentinean. The IBF champion had turned up with a cold sore. Caused by the herpes simplex virus, it can be infectious and serious under very specific conditions.
“We’d to get dermatologists, doctors, everybody. It was nearly off,” says Taylor’s mother Bridget.
Off. On. Over. Onwards. That at least is how the unified champion sees it. Abstract about the machinations of match-making and the complicating factor of holding multiple belts and having mandatory defences is a pleasant headache for her manager Peters, but Katie looks towards the people in front of her.
Brazilian Rose Valente is the preferred option for the UK. Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano another.
Natasha Jonas, who Katie beat on her way to a gold medal in London, is also a professional, while Belgian Delfine Persoon, with over 40 wins, stands like a monolith on the horizon.
She shrugs a whoever shrug. Her demeanour is the old Katie. The five time world amateur champion, an Olympic gold medallist.
“A lot of people were doubting me after Rio,” she says, rarely pleased to be brought back to Rio. “Understandably so. I had a few very tough losses. Those [professional] belts mean an awful lot to me. I don’t think I ever doubted myself. I knew I had plenty of years left in me. I just didn’t perform well that year.”
Rio is a pointy stick in the eye of a champion with only a go-forward gear. It remains a botheration. But the now is more important. The now is all about when it happens, not if it happens.
“At the end of the day they are all going to fight Katie Taylor, they are all going to get beat, and they will be well paid,” says Peters.
And after four belts, then what.
“Go up a weight,” she says. “I wouldn’t be able to go down a weight. But I could definitely go up. I think I’m fairly comfortable at 135 pounds. There was talk of me going to 130 pounds at the start of my professional career. But I feel really, really strong at 135. I walk around at 140 or 142 pounds. I don’t have to lose a lot of weight before these fights.”
Jet-lagged, off she goes. Hesitant. A television interview and weary look of “just one more”.