BBC pundits question Katie Taylor’s boxing brain

Katie Taylor was given her toughest test to date last week and, while her successful world title defence against Jessica McCaskill entertained, some were left unimpressed.

By choice or otherwise, the WBA lightweight champion went toe-to-toe with the unheralded American and took a unanimous decision win on scorelines of 98-91 and 96-92, twice, at the York Hall in London.

McCaskill proved tougher than expected and managed to land plenty of shots on the Bray amateur legend, with Taylor’s face being adorned with battle-marks afterwards

The 31 year old Wicklow fighter’s defence was heavily criticised by pundits Mike Costello and Steve Bunce on this week’s edition of their popular BBC Radio 5 Live show.

Host Costello noted how it was “a scrappy performance and what I thought it demonstrated and showed us is how leaky Katie Taylor’s defence is. I noticed parts of it before but it really very seriously leaky this time.”

Bunce recalled how he was “a little bit surprised at how often she was hit by basically a six-bout novice. Six of those contests that McCaskill had, three of those were against people making their debut. She didn’t fight a seasoned woman who’s coming from loads of World Championships and Olympic qualifiers and Olympics and trials.”

“I was a little bit surprised by that,” he admitted before suggesting Taylor needs to go back towards the cagier style she employed in the latter years of her amateur career – rather than the throwback aggressive style being honed by coach Ross Enamait which is reminiscent of the all-action approach Taylor took when she first burst on to the scene in the 2000s.

Bunce outlined how “Taylor is now eight fights in, she’s an Olympic champion, all those World Championships and European titles. I was really surprised and I’m just wondering if maybe she has to revert back a little bit to the pick and hit Katie Taylor that was so brilliant.”

“Maybe she needs to stop… I’ve had a couple run-ins with Katie’s people over me saying that she needs to slow down and revert do what she does best and stop thinking she’s Mike Tyson in box shirt shorts.”

The pundits certainly acknowledge Taylor’s talents – however they saw flaws in her approach.

Costello described how “there were times in the fight when she was just launching single shots, single jabs, single right hands. She could not miss, it was so easy – and I use that word – it was easy, it was embarrassingly one-sided. But that wasn’t enough for her, she wanted to get involved. I thought it showed, actually, a lack of a boxing brain.”

“Maybe she’s hasn’t had to do a lot of thinking. She was so untouchable for all of those years. What was that sequence? 100 and something, through Olympics and three or four Worlds and Europeans, she was untouchable before the three defeats last year,” added Bunce.


Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: