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AND THE NEW: Katie Taylor wins World Title

Katie Taylor is the new WBA lightweight champion of the world.

The Bray boxer picked up her maiden title tonight in Cardiff and did so in impressive style.

Boxing prominently on the Anthony Joshua v Carlos Takam heavyweight title undercard at the Principality Stadium, and live on Sky Sports, 31 year old Taylor outpointed Argentina’s Anahi Esther Sanchez over 10 competitive, if one-sided, rounds.

The victory capped off a wonderful first year of professional boxing for the Wicklow woman.

Taylor only debuted last November, but had quickly risen to the top of the division inside six fights – indeed most felt her previous bout with Jasmine Clarkson in New York had served no developmental purpose.

Put in the WBA frame following her Inter-Continental rankings title win over Nina Meinke in fight number five back in April – which also took place on an Joshua undercard at Wembley Stadium – Taylor had her world title fight confirmed last month and tonight claimed the belt in dominant fashion.

An experienced world level fighter, Sanchez had won and defended the IBF super featherweight title before losing a competitive clash in Finland to WBC titlist Eva Wahlstrom last year. Earlier this year she was blasted out in the fourth by Maiva Hamadouche in a challenge for her old IBF belt, but moved up in weight and rebounded well to claim the WBA belt against countrywoman Cecilia Mena.

Sanchez however lost this belt yesterday on the scales, being stripped of the black strap after failing to make the 135lbs lightweight limit and, while the 26 year old gave Taylor her toughest test to date in the pros, she was no match for the 2012 Olympic gold medalist.

Taylor began sharply, asserting her dominance early, landing meaty hooks early as Sanchez near-instantaneously looked ragged.

Taylor went on the backfoot at the start of the second, countering Sanchez as the South American marched forward, before a magnificent left hook to the body downed the visitor. Sanchez, visibly in pain, rose and just about beat the count and then did well to survive a barrage from Taylor up against the ropes.

Going into the third, a straight right from Taylor turned Sanchez’s legs wooden but the brave Latino came firing back, catching Taylor a number of times.

A left hook upstairs from Taylor knocked the head of Sanchez back early in the fourth, but the former champ was proving a stubbornly game foe.

The pace dipped in the fifth as Taylor looked to use her boxing skills to control the contest – although Sanchez was still having some success.

As the fight entered its second half it became somewhat scrappy, with heads clashing and trading in close, with Taylor remaining on top.

A succession of right hands in the seventh knocked Sanchez’s head back and the straight backhand continued to be an effective weapon in the eighth.

Entering the championship rounds for the first time in her career, Taylor kept up the pace as she neared a first world title.

Sanchez, needing a miracle, pushed in the final round, but Taylor strolled to the final bell and the win.

Going to the cards with no doubt, Taylor was awarded the title on scorelines of 99-90 across the board.

The famous win sees Taylor improve her perfect professional record to 7(4)-0, while the outgunned Sanchez drops to 17(9)-3(1).

Taylor now becomes Ireland’s second ever female world champion after her childhood hero Deirdre Gogarty – who won the WIBF featherweight title 20 years ago back when that belt was the premier achievement in women’s boxing.

The win also sees Taylor become the twentieth ever Irish world champion and our second reigning champion alongside Belfast’s WBA and IBF bantamweight titlist Ryan Burnett.

While it had been hoped that Taylor would fight for her first world title in Ireland, this plan did not come to fruition. Attentions now turn to a potential unification back in Dublin – however promoter Hearn has suggested an outing in America before Christmas, as well as a double header with Burnett on St Patrick’s Day at Madison Square Garden.


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