While the lambasting of Katie Taylor‘s early opponents from certain fans and outlets has been over the top, the Bray fighter definitely takes a step up on Saturday night.
Since turning pro following the Rio Olympics, Taylor [3(2)-0] has faced an above-average debut opponent in Karina Kopinska, WBC #18 Viviane Obenauf, and EBU #4 Monica Gentili.
On Saturday however, on the Jorge Linares v Anthony Crolla WBA lightweight title rematch at the Manchester Arena, she takes a notable step up to face Milena Koleva [9(3)-7(1)-1]. The Bulgarian may have a chequered enough record, but is a road warrior and has been more than competitive with some of the top names in the sport.
Koleva is responsible for the only blot on WBC super featherweight champion Eva Wahlstom’s record, holding the Finn to a six-round draw in the pair’s sixth fights. Since then she has gone the full eight with current WBC lightweight queen Delfine Persoon, the full eight with former WBC-WBO unified champ Ina Menzer, the full eight with two-time world title challenger Klara Svensson, and widely outpointed Aline de Cassia Scaranello just months before the Brazilian challenged for the IBF super flyweight title.
Most recently, in January, she was stopped in the penultimate round in a world title fight with fearsome Frenchwoman and reigning IBF super featherweight titleholder Maiva Hamadouche.
Taylor is happy with the progressing and said “I definitely think it will be a step up with the fight being scheduled for eight rounds and also the quality of the opponent. Koleva’s a good challenge for me at this point.”
“I’ve watched some of her fights and she has been around the block, been in with some of the best girls in the world and always pushed them very hard so I’m expecting a tough fight.”
Despite there being just three weeks between fights, Taylor and trainer Ross Enamait elected to return to Connecticut to prepare. The Wicklow lightweight explained that “I headed back to the US the day after the last fight and got straight back into training and sparring for this one. I definitely feel like I’ve made some adjustments and improvements again in the last few weeks.”
“You have to improve all the time because as you progress the fights are only going to get tougher and tougher. It’s been a busy time but I’m feeling very good and it’s great to have these opportunities.”
Also featuring on the undercard at the Manchester Arena will be Brian Rose v Jack Arnfield, Martin J. Ward v Maxi Hughes, Marcus Morrison v Jason Welborn, Hosea Burton, Tomi Tatham, Ben Sheedy, Nathan Wheatley. and Sean McGoldrick.
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)