TV View: Game-changer Katie continues to raise the bar
Insights into Taylor’s corner as she slips and slides to another victory
Ireland’s Katie Taylor after winning the WBO world super-lightweight championship against Christina Linardatou at Manchester Arena. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Proof, if it were needed, of how Katie Taylor has been a game-changer for women’s boxing came via Sky Sport’s extravagant production of Fight Night from the Manchester Arena: an advance warning to viewers of flashing images was well-merited as the Bray Bomber’s walk to the ring – with Oasis’s Wonderwall blasting out – was met with a barrage of flashlights.
It was only an appetiser for what would follow as Taylor’s step-up in weight to the 140lb division in her quest to add the WBO super-lightweight title to her collection of lightweight titles had cameras flashing and smartphones on flash mode for the duration of her history-making bout.
“I want people to see the beauty side of boxing,” defending champion Christina Lingardatou had offered in the build-up. And that beauty was indeed on offer for boxing purists, except it was the exhibition from her opponent which showcased what presenter Anna Woolhouse would afterwards wonder when people would stop referring to it as “women’s boxing.” More of that later.
She’s exhibiting the skills that have taken her so far in her sport, and why she’s destined to be remembered as the greatest female boxer ever
As the rounds flashed by there were occasional nuggets of insight into Taylor’s corner as trainer Ross Enamait talked with speed into his fighter’s ear.
“What a beautiful round of boxing right there, a beautiful round of boxing. You’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing, there’s no need to change anything...keep slipping and sliding, like Roy Jones in the ring!”
That comparison with Roy Jones – a multiple world champion who held world titles in four weight classes in an honour-laden career – was another reminder of how Taylor’s undefeated career path in the professional ranks has made her the real game-changer for women pugilists.
As the bout progressed more words from Enamait kept coming. “Stick to the tactics, stay disciplined.”
More. “Don’t let your heart rule your head.”
More. “Don’t get excited. Don’t get over-ambitious. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
With Taylor doing what she was doing, commentator Adam Smith noted the number of young girls in the packed arena.
“She’s exhibiting the skills that have taken her so far in her sport, and why she’s destined to be remembered as the greatest female boxer ever, at a time when the sport is booming. She has become a role model to the young, a wonderful ambassador out of the ring and brilliant architect within it, a great technician, highly skilled.”
She has got that tenacity where she likes to stand and have a fight
His co-commentator Matthew Macklin – a former Irish professional boxer – concurred. “For me, maybe I am biased, Katie Taylor is the number one!”
With the final bell coming ever closer, Ross Enamait’s words were in Taylor’s ears again after the Greek fighter won the eighth round.
“You got too aggressive there, you stood in front of her,” warned her American trainer.
When it was all over and Linardtou moved back to her corner, black gumshield barely masking her wide grin and with arms aloft, Smith asked Macklin, “you’ve got it by two?” Macklin agreed. “Yes, I’ve got it by two.”
Not to Lindardtou, but to Taylor.
Looping right hands
Macklin added: “Some of the rounds were difficult to score. I thought she fought a very disciplined fight. Credit to Linardtou, she landed some good looping right hands.”
And he was proven right, as the three judges unanimously gave Taylor her place in history as a multiple-weight world champion.
“I though she boxed brilliantly. She has been dragged into fights in the past that she could have won easier, got dragged into the trenches. She has got that tenacity where she likes to stand and have a fight. But tonight she stuck to the gameplan, stuck to the instructions in the corner. She’s constantly raising the bar, a fantastic win,” said Macklin in his analysis.
The promoter Eddie Hearn talked of her as “an icon” of the sport, but it was Woolhouse – ringside – who asked former world middleweight champion Andy Lee the question that showed just how far Taylor has been a game-changer for her sport.
“When are we going to start calling it boxing and not women’s boxing? Surely it deserves it now,” wondered Woolhouse.
He nodded his agreement. “Gender is irrelevant. These boxers are in there doing what they do because they are purely artists at work,” said Lee.