Ireland’s Katie Taylor became WBA world lightweight champion on Saturday night in Cardiff.
The Wicklow woman defeated Argentina’s Anahi Esther Sanchez in a really entertaining fight on the Joshua-Takam Sky Box Office undercard at the Principality Stadium.
While the win was a massive achievement, there was certainly a sense that it was more the beginning of a journey for Taylor [7(4)-0] rather than the culmination of one.
A pro just 11 months, the Bray boxer has raced to a title and talk is now of unifying and ruling multiple divisions.
A slight cut over her right eye may delay Taylor’s return to the ring until the start of next year, however people are still keen to know what and, especially, who is next for Ireland’s newest World champion.
Below Irish-Boxing.com looks at some of the options.
WBC Lightweight – Delfine Persoon
(Belgium) – 38(16)-1(1)
A former judoka and serving police officer, the 32 year old has defended the green belt five times having previously held the IBF version of the crown. Persoon holds wins over most of the big names around the weight and is seen as the number two pound-for-pound after welterweight queen Cecilia Brækhus. The hardest fight in the division for Taylor without doubt, however Persoon has only recently recovered from career-saving finger surgery and fights for the first time in 2017 next month, defending her belt against Myriam Dellal.
IBF Lightweight – Victoria Noelia Bustos
(Argentina) – 18(0)-4(0)
The Santa Fé stylist 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 World Championships. Bustos has defended her IBF belt four times, but has stated her intentions to move up to light welterweight.
WBO Lightweight – Yohana Belen Alfonzo
(Argentina) – 16(1)-2(0)
Another South American, Alfonzo has defended her belt thrice and is a local hero of sorts. ‘The Lioness’ lost a narrow six-round fight with Bustos back in 2013 and is exciting pressure fighter despite a lack of discernable power. The 28 year old has never fought outside of Argentina, however a more pressing concern would be her lack of fights – having not fought since last year. While she could be enticed over, the WBO is not an organisation that promoter Eddie Hearn generally works with too regularly.
Amateur Rivals Far Away
There are a number of fighters familiar with Taylor from their days in the amateurs. There are potential big fights and big rivalries here, however they all look to be fair bit down the line.
Matchroom stablemate Natasha Jonas shared a memorable fight against Taylor during the 2012 Olympics in London, and has raced to 3-0 with three knockouts in the pros. However, trainer and manager Joe Gallagher has expressed his desire to move the Liverpudlian down to the featherweight division.
Cyclone’s Chantelle Cameron [3(2)-0] and Top Rank’s Mikaela Mayer [2(2)-0] both have big amateur pedigree, but are both a good while away from world title fights – while Taylor’s 2012 Olympic final opponent Sofya Ochigava [2(1)-0] has not fought in the pros for over 14 months.
What seems most likely would be a voluntary defence of Taylor’s black belt against one of the boxers in the WBA rankings.
The organisation’s lightweight ladder has not been updated since before Sanchez won the belt against Cecelia Mena in September, but it still gives a decent picture of some of the names in the frame.
WBA Lightweight Rankings – August 2017
1. Katie Taylor (Ireland)
2. Cecilia Sofia Mena (Argentina)
3. Nicole Wesner (Germany)
4. Anahi Esther Sanchez (Argentina)
5. Ruth Stephanie Aquino (Argentina)
6. Judy Waguthii (Kenya)
7. Ikram Kerwait (Tunisia)
8. Beke Bas (Germany)
9. Christina Linardartou (Dominica)
10. Isabelle Pare (France)
11. Kimberly Connor (USA)
12. Diana Ayala (Colombia)
13. Nina Meinke (Germany)
14. Rose Volante (Brazil)
Going through the ladder, Mena, Sanchez, and former foe Meinke can all be pretty much ruled out. Wesner has long-held WBF and GBU trinkets and would also seem unlikely. Aquino has not fought in almost a year – with her last bout seeing her disqualified in the first round for an apparent dive. Waguthii has moved up in weight. Tunisian Ikram Kerwat is part of the same training camp as the legendary Roy Jones Jr and this factor could make her an attractive option.
Of the lower ranked fighters, Bas has a bout scheduled in December, Linardartou has not fought this year at all – which can also be said of eight-time world title challenger Ayala. Pare last month lost for the European title, and two-time title challenger Connor struggled last time out against former Taylor foe Jasmine Clarkson which may act as a black mark against her.
This leaves unbeaten Brazilian Rose Volante [11(6)-0], an active, and certainly possible opponent.
There are, of course, potential other names, and expect to see a few fresh faces and potential Taylor foes enter the rankings when they are next updated in the near future.