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Taylor cements status as Ireland’s most important boxer

On the greatest sporting moment of Katie Taylor’s life, the undisputed lightweight champion also landed the biggest achievement of her highly decorated career.

A remarkable suggestion considering the success that has followed the Irish superstar throughout her illustrious history, from becoming a world amateur champion, to convincing the IOC to allow women’s boxing at the Olympics, and on to securing the gold medal at the London 2012 Games.

And that was just the amateurs.

The inimitable athlete turned to the paid ranks of the sport in 2016 and proceeded to dominate the lightweight division, while also continuing the crusade to see women’s boxing reach some sort of recognition in relation to the male-dominated sport.

Moments before Katie made that slow methodical march to the ring at Madison Square Garden, for the most historic night in New York, where women’s boxing headlined the storied venue for the first time in its 140-year history, the big screen displayed a message that Taylor had written to promoter Eddie Hearn, asking him to take a chance and join her on the journey.

Hearn has been telling this particular yarn for a good few years – and like all great stories, it gets better and better the more times it’s told, even without embellishment.

But this time the boxing promoter, who is also at the top of his game right now, knew that it was not just the boxing world who were watching, but the entire global sporting community.

Some heard this story several times before, but many were not actually listening, most notably the promoters and television networks who decided to put the Shakur Stevenson versus Oscar Valdez fight up against the New York showdown.

That particular unified world super featherweight bout would have been a great fight on any other night of the year, however, 30 April 2022 will be remembered for one boxing match only.

Taylor soaked up the atmosphere during her slow and measured ringwalk

That Madison Square Garden night will, in fact, go straight into the history books and remain there as an important landmark moment in the sport.

The mecca of boxing. A venue like no other, and now Katie Taylor’s name will forever be associated with it, just like ‘The Greatest’, Muhammad Ali.

And while the event was historic, the fight itself was equally epic as the two fighters brought the absolute best out of each other, and the barnstormer has already been earmarked as a true contender for the fight of the year – round ten of the New York tear-up will also go down as one of the great verses in this most poetic of sports.

And credit must go to the challenger, who really was the right woman to complete this historic package, bringing her seven-weight world title pedigree to the occasion, while also helped by the emerging presence of Jake Paul who is bringing boxing to another audience and adding to this most show business of spectacles.

Serrano had never stepped into the ring with someone as tough or talented as Taylor, and while a lot had been spoken of her power punching, it was an unknown quantity in relation to sharing the ring with the true trailblazer.

Round five of that particular punch-up will always be known as Serrano’s shining stint and the ‘what-if’ moment of her extended career. Without a doubt, Serrano will be headlining her own shows in the future with or without Katie in the opposite corner.

Serrano makes her way to the ring, with coach Jordan Maldonado (C) and promoter Jake Paul (R)

And while the contest was close – too close to call for many – the result really was the right call, and with this being labeled the bout “For History”, it just had to be Katie Taylor.

But that conversation will continue, and it rolled right on into the post-fight press conference; the 45-minute wait for the boxers to arrive led to a fascinating debate between anyone and everyone within shouting distance as the boxing writers and commentators of the world relived the thrilling ten-rounder.

Somebody produced the live stream of the final stages of the Shakur fight; not one really cared, even the ardent few had no more than one eye on it.

The man one seat over said that he was brought over to Ireland to spar Barry McGuigan ahead of the Pedroza fight.

He certainly knew his Irish boxing, remembering fondly all the contenders and champions from McGuigan, through Collins and on to Duddy, who he saw “many times” in New York.

The Pocket Rocket sparked a fond memory, as he recalled the ever-entertaining Wayne McCullough.

“A great guy. He’s out of LA now.”

“Who is the greatest Irish boxer,” he ventured. “McGuigan?”

Taylor and Serrano provided a contender for fight of the year

The conversation naturally turned to Katie, and whether she gets recognized as the greatest Irish boxer of all time, it was agreed that she was certainly the most important, for what she had done for the sport.

It was, as Eddie Hearn would also reference a bit later during the conference, no longer a conversation about women’s boxing, rather boxing, full stop.

Others joined in as the fired-up entourage wanted to hear every opinion.

“Who won it?” “I had Amanda.” “A draw would have been fair.” “Katie did enough.” “What are the judges looking for? The aggressor or the boxer?”

The beauty of boxing right there. Opinions. All valid. All justified.

But ultimately it comes down to the three judges sitting ringside, calling it round by round. Have for a win. Nine for a loss. Eight if you hit the canvas or take a severe beating.

The press conference would eventually interrupt the post-fight breakdown with Team Serrano coming in first to face the press.

Respectful in defeat, Serrano will take the entire experience as a win for the long and winding road that she has endured since attempting to make a living out of the sport, with her adjacent promoter Jake Paul, no doubt, telling her that she won the fight.

“The girl who sang the Irish national anthem told me that Amanda won the fight,” said Paul, with a straight face.

Asked whether Serrano would have to change up his tactics for the inevitable rematch, trainer Jordan Maldonado chose to answer the question on behalf of his prize fighter.

Slated for his antics last time out when his wife Cindy, the other Serrano sister, was schooled by Katie, this time he offered nothing but praise for the champion, and he felt that no matter what Amanda hit her with, she was going to stand there and take it all night like a true champion.

Taylor celebrates with her mother Bridget

Katie would then arrive, delayed due to her eye getting stitched up, while blood still trickled from her left ear – promoter-turned nurse, Hearn, delicately wiping it clean when called on over the follow 20 minutes.

The champion admitted that she took a beating in that fifth round and she had to dig deep to stay in the contest, however, she also played down its significance, saying she wasn’t as hurt as people thought and was stable and going in control back to the corner.

“I’ve got a pretty good chin,” Katie would later reply when asked again about that remarkable midway point in the fight.

Heading into the fight, Taylor spoke a lot about legacy and the pride that she feels from bursting through these boxing boundaries, pushing the door wide open to allow the next generation of female fighters to shine.

Naturally, with the talk of a rematch back in Dublin, many were assuming that it would perhaps double up as a farewell bout.

And while Katie said she was looking forward to a week of not getting hit on the head, she scoffed at such suggestions, saying she still had a lot more to give to the sport that she loves so much.

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