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Get to know: Katie Taylor’s potential world title opponents

One of the complaints that we have heard recently with regards to the professional career of Katie Taylor [4(2)-0] is the difficulty to invest in the Bray boxer’s career.

Very few people know the major names and the world champions at her weight, their styles, their stories, and their reputations.

Taylor looks set to fight for a world title in Dublin this November, but the boxer at her weight most known to fans is likely to be Olympic final opponent Sofya Ochigava, currently a 2-0 novice in the pros.

With that in mind, Irish-Boxing.com takes a look at the four major champions at both super featherweight and lightweight to help give a bit of background before the Wicklow woman likely faces one of them for a world title later this year – as well as some potential talking points about each fight.

WBC Super Featherweight
Eva Wahlström (Finland) – 19(3)-0-1
The 36 year old is a familiar foe for Taylor, with the pair meeting thrice in the amateurs and the Irishwoman winning all three bouts. Taylor most notably defeated the Scandinavian in the 2005 European Championships finals to win her first major gold medal. The only blotch on Wahlström’s record was an early-career draw in 2011 to recent Taylor foe Milena Koleva. Winning the WBC title two yeas ago, Wahlstrom has defended the belt twice, most recently against a very strong challenger in Anahi Esther Sanchez. Her greatest victory however came in 2012, when she had a brush with death, overcoming a pulmonary embolism and blood clots in her lungs and kidneys. The Finn, who has suggested that she will soon move up in weight, will defend her belt a third time against a to-be-confirmed opponent in May.

Talking Points:
– Difference between the amateurs and the pros. How much can be read into amateur meetings?
– Taylor attempting to banish Finnish demons following her loss in the Rio Olympics to Finland’s Mira Potkonen.

WBA Super Featherweight
Hyun Mi Choi (Korea) – 13(4)-0-1
An amazing story, Choi was born in North Korea and the repressive government, recognising her skill, would attempt to force her into the nation’s Olympic programme anticipating (incorrectly) that women’s boxing would be included in the 2008 Olympics. Still just a teenager, Choi and her relatively well-to-do family would escape the totalitarian state and move to South Korea where she would turn to professional boxing to support her and her family. Turning pro aged 17, Choi challenged for and won the WBA featherweight title in her FIRST fight. Of her 14 contests, 11 have been for world honours across two weights, and ‘Defector Girl Boxer’ has won herself a hardcore following. Such are the financials of women’s boxing though, Choi has not fought since last May, and has recently been found crowdfunding to support her boxing journey

Talking Points:
– Not that one is needed considering the story, but Taylor does have North Korean previous, having been defeated by Kang Kum-Hui at the 2005 World Championships.

IBF Super Featherweight
Maiva Hamadouche (France) – 15(12)-1(0)
The Paris police officer is a genuine knockout artist in a sport where biology and the length of rounds make knockouts hard to come by. A former French and European champion at lightweight, a competitive world title loss to Delfine Persoon saw her move down in weight and claim a 130lbs belt over Jennifer Salinas. ‘Poison’ defended her belt for the first time in January, going one better than Taylor and stopping Milena Koleva in the ninth round. A confident boxer who talks of unifications and domination, she could bring personality to a world title fight with Taylor.

Talking Points:
– Power is a big plus here, and there is a potential the Hamadouche could be built into a Kiko Martínez-like figure among Irish sports fans.
– Like Finland, Taylor has French demons following her World Championships semi-finals loss to Estelle Mossely last year.

WBO Super Featherweight
Ramona Kühne (Germany) – 25(10)-1(1)
A former world champ at featherweight too, Kühne has plenty of fighting background having been a champion kickboxer and Jiu-Jiteiro. The 37 year old wouldn’t be overawed by the big stage either, having been involved in multiple massive televised cards in Germany over the past six years. The Berlin boxer looks set to face Poland’s highly-rated European champion Ewa Brodnicka in May.

Talking Points:
– A veteran of nine world title fights, Kühne would have more title bouts than Taylor has fights in total should they meet.

WBC Lightweight
Delfine Persoon (Belgium) – 38(16)-1(1)
Another punching police officer, the 32 year old has defended the green belt five times having previously held the IBF version of the crown. Holds a 2015 points win over Hamadouche and a 2011 scorecards triumph over Milena Koleva. The former judoka is a well-rounded fighter with a high output, a bit of pop, and plenty of grit. Currently recovering from career-saving finger surgery, Persoon is expected to return to the ring during the Summer. The hardest fight out of all eight champions for Taylor – although Andy Lee believes she could do it.

Talking Points:
– The best world champion out there, indeed on of the pound-for-pound best, and the one with the most-attractive record.

WBA Lightweight
Cecilia Comunales (Uruguay) – 14(9)-1(0)
‘The Queen’ is a two-time champion and a superstar in her native county, featuring regularly on talk shows and in gossip columns . Promoted by Sampson Lewkowicz, the man who famously brought Sergio Martinez and Manny Pacquiao to America, Comunales as a rangey power-puncher who doesn’t seem to have an issue travelling. It should be noted though that, while Comunales is still listed by the WBA as their champion, she has stated that she can no longer make lightweight – meaning that this could be a potential vacant title opportunity for Taylor.

IBF Lightweight
Victoria Noelia Bustos (Argentina) – 17(0)-4(0)
The Santa Fé boxer has held the IBF crown since 2013, in which time she stepped up to light welter where she was defeated by Erica Farias for the WBC title. This was a rematch of their WBC lightweight title fight in 2012, also won by Farias, who was beaten by Taylor in the final of the 2006 Worlds. Bustos defended her IBF belt for the fourth time early this month, outpointing Kimberly Connor. The South American is a back-foot boxer with little discernable punching power. In the lead-up to the Connor bout, Bustos claimed that she would return to light welter afterwards, so there could be another vacant belt here soon.

WBO Lightweight
Yohana Belen Alfonzo (Argentina) – 16(1)-2(0)
The first boxer from the San Luis province to win a world title, Alfonzo has defended her belt thrice and is a big draw in her local area. The Lioness lost a narrow six-round fight with Bustos back in 2013 and is an exciting pressure fighter despite her lack of power. The 27 year old has never fought outside of Argentina, however the potential money generated by a headline Sky Sports clash with Taylor at the 3Arena should tempt Alfonzo, or indeed any of the champions, to make their way to Dublin.

Talking Points:
– The Unknown: Taylor has faced relatively few South Americans in her time and Alfonzo would present a new challenge.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie