WHERE does Katie Taylor go from here? Like Alexander the Great, the greatest pound-for-pound female fighter of all time is running out of continents to conquer.
The Bray woman claimed the vacant WBA lightweight title on Hallowe’en weekend after beating Argentina’s Anahi Sanchez in Cardiff. Anna Moore, Treasurer of the St Francis BC in Limerick and the Munster Council and a member of the International Boxing Association Council, was impressed.
“Katie was superb. That girl was no walkover either. My God, could she take a punch. I thought Katie was going to stop her,” said Moore, who was ringside in Cardiff.
Sanchez, the defending champion, weighed-in a pound over the lightweight limit and was given two hours to make 9st 9lb but failed to shed the excess and was stripped of the belt, which Taylor, courtesy of a 99-90 unanimous decision on all three cards, added to the 18 major titles she’s won in the amateur ranks.
Moore, who was Irish team manager when Taylor secured World Elite amateur gold in China in 2008 and 2012 and bronze in Kazakhstan in 2015, believes that the 31-year-old Wicklow orthodox, who dropped Sanchez with a stunning body shot in the second, is at her peak.
“I thought she’d finish her. Most rounds Katie caught her with punches that were very heavy. Katie’s punching power is after getting a lot harder and a lot stronger. I think what we’re seeing is Katie Taylor at her very best,” added Moore.
The Buenos Aires-native, to her credit, redeemed her unprofessionalism at the scales with a dogged performance, with Taylor winning nine of the ten rounds, and not, as some media reported, ten frames.
Sanchez’s vindictive durability was the test Taylor needed after her six previous paid bouts, most of which were about as competitive as pillaging a bingo hall full of Buddhist nuns.
Then again, that’s the way the pro game operates. Promoters dispatch their matchmakers to dig up graves and find opponents guaranteed not to do anything alarming, such as win, to pour concrete into the plinth of their investment until such time as they can engineer a shot at the big one or a sanctioning body makes them a mandatory challenger.
Taylor is being lined up for a voluntary defence in London on 15 December and her team has pencilled in a “blockbuster” unifier – contingent on her winning the voluntary against an opponent to be confirmed – in Dublin in April, marking the first occasion that the woman who has almost exclusively defined the evolution of the female version of the noble art defends a major title on Irish soil.
Meantime, Limerick southpaw Andy Lee earned deserved plaudits for his Sky Sports commentary at last month’s IBF/WBA bantamweight unifier between Ryan Burnett and Kazakhstan’s Zhanat Zhakiyanov in Antrim.
Belfast-native Burnett dethroned the man from Central Asia, the WBA titlist, after a fiery dust-up at a venue which is part of the Titanic Centre, named after the ill-fated ship. It’s always poignant to be reminded of 1,517 people drowning in the North Atlantic.
Lee, Ireland’s only boxer at the 2004 Olympics, didn’t pull any punches in his assessment of Sky’s narration during a Taylor fight a few weeks prior to the Burnett dust-up.
“Listen to the roar for Taylor…I didn’t hear any roar,” said the Castleconnell Olympian in relation to Sky commentary describing the Olympic champion’s ring intro.
“I would have said it’s an uninterested crowd, to be honest. We could overestimate the extent to which she has captured the public imagination based on what the TV commentary is saying.
“The people who go to these fights in England, they’re not boxing fans, they are Sky Sports promotional fans. They just go to event; event fans. Half of them wouldn’t know what they are watching.”
The former WBO World middleweight champion did a fine job at the Burnett fight. He’s a natural in front of the microphone, is well-spoken and obviously knows what he’s talking about, unlike some of the other Sky boxing people, a percentage of whom might be of the opinion that the Boxer Revolution in China in 1899 was some sort of coup d’état attempt by disgruntled light-flyweights.
The primary issue with Sky, which has, to its eternal credit, visually revolutionised sports coverage, is that it struggles to be objective in its analysis of its live product because it’s trying to sell that product.
Likewise, the public, after watching a horrendous football/rugby/boxing match find themselves confronted by a screen full of hysterical sycophants telling us that what we’ve just witnessed a defining moment in sport whilst they switch channels for another compelling episode of Oireachtas Report featuring the great Danny Healy-Rae insisting that fairy forts are causing dips in the roads in – where else – Kerry.
The Independent TD for Darby O’Gill and the Little People has previous here. Years back he indicated that indigenous goblins might be responsible for a hollow on the N22. “Is it fairies at work?” he asked. That, apparently, is a rhetorical question in parts of the Kingdom. Paddy?
Elsewhere, we note that Tommy Conlon in the Sunday Independent was the only soul – besides the local parish priest – to express ecumenical concern for Cats caught in compromising positions.
The Ballyragget GAA club claimed the Kilkenny Intermediate hurling title recently, and, as they were celebrating in a bar, found themselves in the company of two females who appeared to have little on besides their radios. How did they get there?
The intrepid Mr. Conlon reckons it was a telecommunications glitch. One minute, he explained, you’re calling in a pizza with extra toppings, but, because you pressed a wrong digit, you find yourself confronted with the legendary Fife and Sabrina, who, after a fashion, also have extra toppings. Shure, it could happen to a bishop.
The local priest offered to help but believes the market for his particular brand of celestial plea bargaining is waning. “I don’t think there’s going to be a rush on confessions,” he admitted. Some parishioners urged the hurlers to avail of counselling. This is also known as secular confession, after which your penance is a decade of The Guardian and Irish Times.
“The path of the righteous corner forward is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of the small parallelogram – and Fife” (Ezekiel 25:17). Maybe a Novena, as opposed to a Sabrina, might help.