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Katie Taylor savouring spoils of victory after being pushed to the limits in NYC

 

Tough night: Katie Taylor feels the full force of Delfine Persoon
Tough night: Katie Taylor feels the full force of Delfine Persoon
Delfine Persoon

By Sean McGoldrick

Katie Taylor's face said it all. Stitches in her forehead, a gash on the bridge of her nose, her right eye closing. History is not easily made.

Still, when referee Sparkle Lee raised Taylor's right arm after 10 rounds of tumultuous boxing in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, it secured her place among the pantheon of great fighters.

True, her majority 2-0 win over Delfine Persoon -the first in her career - was very controversial. But to the victor the spoils.

As Katie took her seat at the top table in a conference room on the seventh floor of the Renaissance Hotel a couple of hours later, the spoils of victory were laid out in front of her.

The WBA, IBF, WBO belts she was already familiar with having won them over the last 20 months.

But she now has the complete collection adding the WBC and the specially commissioned Ring belt to her collection. She is only the seventh boxer to hold all belts simultaneously since the four-belt world title era was ushered in.

"It is very, very special. I made history tonight. Ever since I turned pro it was always my goal to get these fight belts.

"It is incredible actually looking at these five belts. This is what I dreamed for. This is what I trained for. I am absolutely delighted.

"It was a very close fight. We knew it would be a close fight. That's what happens when the best fights the best. There has to be a winner and a loser."

Despite carrying the scars of the epic battle she had just fought and surely feeling the pain from the hits she endured during 20 minutes of frenetic action, Taylor insisted that she still has the best job in the world and has no intention of quitting the ring any time soon.

"My ambition will be as strong as ever definitely. I am only getting started. The plan now is to be involved in big fights and defend all these titles and to stay on top for a very long time. I am definitely not slowing down yet. I still have as much passion as ever for the sport and I actually love what I do.

"This is a dream job for me to be waking up every single day and training every single day and getting ready for these big fights. I'm really so grateful to have this life."

There were times during the contest, however, when one suspects Taylor might have thought differently and most certainly her mother Bridget and other member of her family who were watching ringside might have wished she had chosen a different profession.

For the first time in her professional career she was under sustained pressure from a street-wise pro who used all the dark arts of the game to exert maximum pressure. Remarkably, though Persoon is essentially a part-time boxer, her stamina enabled her to exert more influence as the fight progressed and culminated in her winning the tenth round on three judges' cards. But Taylor insisted that ultimately Persoon brought no surprises to the table and she felt she had done enough to secure the verdict even before David Diamante made the official announcement.

"I knew it was a close fight but I knew I had definitely done enough to win the fight and thankfully the judges saw it that way as well.

"Nothing surprised me in there. I had prepared for that kind of fight. There was nothing new in there. She was strong and awkward. She kept coming for the 10 rounds. I knew it was going to be that kind of fight.

"I knew it was going to be a fight where I had to show a lot of heart. I knew I would be in the trenches at some stage and that's exactly what happened."

At times Taylor's bravado landed her in trouble, not just with Persoon but with her trainer Ross Enamait.

According to Chris Mannix, who was ringside with the DAZN commentary team, Enamait was furious with Taylor for inviting her opponent to throw her best shot while she was pinned to the ropes in round five.

Enamait played down the incident afterwards. "We knew it was going to be a tough fight. We knew they would both take shots. I wasn't overly surprised that she was taking shots and we were taking shots. I can get animated."

Taylor acknowledged that she probably stood a bit too much with Persoon in the pocket. "But I do love a good fight. It's my nature and personality. It was an exciting contest and what a showcase for women's boxing. But I knew it was the type of fight in which it would be very hard to look well in."

Taylor flew back from New York overnight and is looking forward to an extended holiday in Bray with her family. "I'm looking forward to seeing my nieces and nephews again."

She is likely to be back in the ring in September in New York against an American opponent with Amanda Serrano, Mikaela Mayer and possibly even MMA star Rondy Rousey in the frame.

But a rematch against Delfine Persoon is also definitely on the cards, though its timing has yet to be worked out. Taylor's manager Brian Peters insisted that the Belgian would have to wait her turn.

"We have our own plans which involves fighting in New York again. Unfortunately Belgians wouldn't sell too many tickets in New York. So we would be looking for someone local. But yeah we would always look at a re-match."

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