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Is Katie Taylor Ireland’s Greatest Fighter? It’s Irrelevant

By Chris McNulty

Eddie Hearn has made a large portion of his lavish living thanks to his powers of exaggeration.

The Matchroom Boxing chief stood at the top of the Empire State Building last week, flanked by Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, for whom history awaited in a lightweight bout at Madison Square Garden.

On Saturday night, Taylor and Serrano produced a stirring 10 rounds in front of a sold-out 19,187. An unprecedented 1.5million tuned in on DAZN.

“It’s a great fight but Taylor vs Serrano is a moment in time,” Hearn said in the build-up.

“People are excited for this moment in time. People have bought into this moment.”

The fight was a classic, Taylor surviving a bruising, battering fifth stanza during which many watched from between the gaps in their fingers, fearing that her dethroning as the world lightweight queen was imminent.

Taylor summonsed, from somewhere, a remarkable response.

Just under half an hour later, David Diamante was uttering the words we’d waited for: ‘And still’.

Taylor remains the undisputed world lightweight champion and talk has since turned to a possible rematch – maybe even in Ireland. 

The fight and the win rekindled debate around Taylor’s ranking in the history of Irish boxing.

It is ten years now since she was already immortalised when winning Olympic gold in London.

She is a five-time world champion, has won six European Championships, five EU Championships and was the lightweight gold medalist at the European Games in 2019.

Saturday’s bout in New York was Taylor’s 15th world title fight since moving to the professional ranks.

The sorts of debate around whether or not the 35-year-old is the ‘greatest’ do a disservice to both Taylor and the other greats who generally get mentioned.

These types of discussions are always subjective. They’ll rumble on, of course, but, really, they’re irrelevant.

All are ‘great’ in their own right and no-one can truly crown any as the ‘greatest’.

In 2016, Carl Frampton became the first Irish boxer to unify world titles. ‘The Jackal’ overcame Scott Quigg in Manchester and also became Ireland’s second two-weight champ when beating Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA super world featherweight title.  He went in search of a world title at a third weight in 2021, but was beaten by Jamel Herring for the WBO super featherweight title in Dubai.

Steve Collins held WBO middleweight and super middleweight titles and had eleven world title bouts. Collins did the double over both Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn.

There are those who will point to Wayne McCullough. The Pocket Rocket, silver medalist at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, fought ten world champions and was the WBC bantamweight champion from 1995 to ’97, first winning it when beating Yasuei Yakushiki in Nagoya, Japan.

Dave ‘Boy’ McAuley held the IBF flyweight title from 1989 to 1992, making five defences, and fought twice for the WBA flyweight title in 1987 and 1988 – losing two brutal encounters with the Colombian, Fidel Bassa.

There was Barry McGuigan, WBA featherweight champion in 1985 and 1986, or ‘Rinty’ Monaghan, the undisputed world flyweight champion of the 1940s.

Belfast’s Monaghan, who bowed out in 1950, was Ireland’s last undisputed champion prior to Taylor’s win against Delfine Persoon in 2019.

County Down-born Jimmy McLarnin was a two-time world welterweight champion who fought out of Canada having moved with his family at the age of ten. He had a 55-11-3 record when he retired in 1936.

Taylor has made her own history, ever since Hallowe’en night in 2001 when she stepped through the ropes for the first officially sanctioned women’s bout in Ireland.

Last Saturday night under the Big Apple’s bright lights in boxing’s greatest theatre, referee Michael Griffin raised her hand.

This was her moment.

“The best moment of my career,” Taylor said. “For sure.”

We should enjoy Taylor’s moments now for what they are while they last.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com