Ireland’s London 2012 Olympic Gold medallist and five times World Champion Katie Taylor (31) is preparing for her first tilt at a World Professional Lightweight title when she meets tough Argentinian and current WBA champion Anahi Esther Sanchez (26) at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday night.
The week has started well for the ‘Bray Bomber’ as she has just been voted Ireland’s ‘Most admired sports personality, male or female, according to the respected sponsorship advisers ONSIDE Ireland. A year ago she was joint first with former Irish Rugby Captain, Brian O’Driscoll.
The latter is now third placed behind MMA champion, Conor McGregor, whose own popularity has grown since that ‘Notorious’ high profile ‘boxing’ bout against Floyd Mayweather.
John Trainor, Chief Executive of ONSIDE told the ‘Irish Independent’ :
“Stars like Conor McGregor and Katie Taylor, who were central to significant ambassadorial programmes with major brands like Budweiser, Beats and JD Sports in 2017, can elevate their personal and their sponsor’s brands to game-changing new highs through smart deals next year.”
That was a poll of all sponsors and their Executives be they male or female. In terms of Irish sports stars most admired by men, there was a three-way tie between Taylor, McGregor and Irish soccer Assistant Manager Roy Keane, who along with Martin O’Neill, earlier this month helped Ireland qualify for the 2018 World Cup qualifier play-offs against Denmark in November.
Those are two ties that Taylor will be following with great interest having played many times for the Irish women’s teams in Club and International matches until her retirement from the sport in 2011.
Oddly enough there has been little media coverage in Ireland until now for the Taylor vs Sanchez bout and much criticism of that fact, in Social Media posts. There are though many reasons why that is so.
Firstly publicity of Taylor’s Pro bouts is not handled by the excellent IABA P.R.O Bernard O’Neill who covered her many ‘amateur’ successes over the years but also she is now based in the United States for much of the year so not as easy to track down.
Equally her Dad – and former coach – Pete is no longer involved with his daughter’s pro career and he was always ready with a ‘quotable quote’. There will though be a sizeable Irish following in the Crowd in Cardiff plus lots of support from British fans as she had at the Olympics in London and as Pete comes from Leeds.
Taylor’s profile at home though will rise during the week when Matchroom – her promoters – and Eddie Hearn meet the Media in Cardiff with Taylor herself.. Her Manager Brian Peters will also be ‘swinging into action’ especially via Twitter.
How does the Irish woman view the fight?
“Since the fight was announced the weeks have flown by,” said Taylor. “There’s an element of nerves for every fight. I’ve had the opportunity to box on big shows before but this fight without a doubt is going to be the biggest of my career and open more doors in the future. I cannot let this chance slip which brings pressure but it’s the type of fights I want.
“I train for every fight like it’s a World title fight. The great thing about this one is I’ve had a much longer camp. The last couple have been so close together. I’ve had a good few months preparing for this one.
“When we first sat down with Eddie he wanted us to fight for a World title within a year and he’s stayed true to his word and delivered. It’s an honour to be fighting for the WBA Title. I’m delighted with the progression of my pro career to date.
“It’s my first time at Principality Stadium – what a stage to be fighting on. Wembley Stadium was good preparation for this and I do love an Anthony Joshua undercard. This is more than a dream for me.”
Speaking to Sky Sports News Taylor said:
“Without a doubt. This opponent Sanchez is very, very experienced.
“She has a great record as well. She’s had more world title fights than I’ve had fights really in the pro game so it is going to be a very tough challenge.”
How does promoter Eddie Hearn see the fight – and Taylor’s immediate future?
“She’s got a tough fight against a two-weight world champion, and you’d expect her to win, but it’s a level she hasn’t really boxed at before,” Hearn told Independent.ie.
“There’s a lot of pressure but it’s her chance to make history and become a world champion. I expect her to win on Saturday and I’d like to try and get her out and have a defence before the end of the year.”
Should she win Saturday where would she fight again? Dublin? Or elsewhere?
“She likes to box in England, she’d love to box in Ireland, she likes to box in America, and America is somewhere that we might go in December for a quick fight but I think she’s in a good place.
“There’s a couple of American girls calling her name out, getting quite aggressive, which is nice, and the plan would be to then unify the title potentially in Dublin in the Spring.”
Taylor’s clash with Sanchez is part of a huge night of action in Cardiff where Joshua defends his World Heavyweight titles against Carlos Takam, the Londoner’s bitter foe Dillian Whyte aims to take a giant step to his first World title shot by facing Robert Helenius for the WBC Silver strap and Kal Yafai defends his WBA World Super-Flyweight title against Japanese mandatory challenger Sho Ishida.
Finally, there is soon to be a new Documentary on Katie Taylor as the ‘Irish Times’ recently reported:
“A new RTÉ drama called Rare Earth and a documentary on boxer Katie Taylor’s move to turn professional are among the latest projects to receive public funding in the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Sound and Vision scheme.
Ross Whitaker Enterprises, trading as True Films, was awarded €100,000 toward the production of Comeback, an RTÉ One documentary that follows Olympic Gold medallist Taylor as she begins her professional career”.
Saturday’s fight will be shown LIVE in UK and Ireland on Sky Sports Box Office and will also be available through Sky via Live Streaming.
More quotes during the media conferences and after the fight here and via our Facebook and Twitter social media accounts.