Katie Taylor vows to make history after defending lightweight world title

By Dan Ludlam

Katie Taylor has vowed to make history in boxing after successfully defending her WBA lightweight world title against stubborn opponent Jessica McCaskill at York Hall, London.

The unbeaten Bray fighter, who claimed the WBA lightweight strap in only her seventh pro-fight back in October, overcame her resilient American counterpart to win by unanimous decision.

All three judges were wide on the scorecards with Taylor eventually running out 97-92, 97-92, 98-91 to make a successful first defence of her title and set herself up for a massive unification bout in 2018.

Taylor was headlining an action-packed card in London and was grateful to the support of the York Hall crowd in rallying past McCaskill, who fought bravely to cause the Irish star a few problems.

“It's an absolute privilege to box at York Hall thank you so much for the support,” Taylor spoke post-fight.

Katie Taylor celebrates after her WBA Lightweight World Title fight against Jessica McCaskill. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

“I think I was more nervous for this than for my other fights at bigger stadiums. I've always wanted to box here and to headline the show is an absolute privilege.

“I thought I boxed very well, I knew she was very, very tough and rough but I was prepared for that. I thought I boxed very well.

“I'm delighted to end the year with this victory and now I can enjoy a nice Christmas.”

There's only one thing on Taylor's mind heading into 2018 and that is to secure all of the world-title belts at lightweight and establish herself as a domineering force in boxing.

A New Year showdown with Argentina’s IBF belt-holder Victoria Noelia Bustos has been rumoured, while the highly-anticipated clash with Belgium star Delfine Persoon, WBC title holder, is also most certainly on the agenda.

And Taylor admits to having the urge for similarly glory-filled nights in the future, with her true fighting qualities shining through on what could have been an otherwise troubling night for the 31-year-old.

“This is what I was born to do,” she continued.

“Every time I step into the ring I know this is what I'm meant to do and I love every second of it.

“I'm living this life that I dreamt of and I'm so grateful for that.”

Taylor may now be presented with the perfect opportunity to return home and box in front of her growing mass of admirers and followers.

It is something the world champion is desperate for and a unification bout in Dublin maybe the next step in Taylor's already remarkable career to date.

“It's always been on the radar (to return home),” she added.

“This win sets me right up for a great 2018 and have a great homecoming fight as I look to unify the division. I just want to be involved in the biggest fights possible.

“Whoever has the other belts, the IBF, the WBC and the WBO belts I want them all. I want to make history in this sport.

“This has been an absolutely incredible year for me, it really has been the perfect year. I want to thank everyone at Matchroom, Eddie (Hearn) and of course Sky for this opportunity.”

Earlier: Katie Taylor retains WBA lightweight title with unanimous points win

Katie Taylor retained her WBA lightweight world title with a unanimous points decision over Jessica McCaskill to maintain her dream of unifying the world titles in 2018.

The Bray fighter, who claimed the WBA lightweight strap in only her seventh pro fight back in October, was too strong for her American counterpart in front of a baying crowd at York Hall, London.

Katie Taylor, left, and Jessica McCaskill during their WBA Lightweight World Title fight at York Hall in London. Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

It keeps the Olympic champion’s hopes of dominating the lightweight division alive with this latest stunning performance sure to keep the other belt holders in suspense heading into 2018.

McCaskill had vowed to expose flaws in Taylor’s technique in the pre-fight build up and had gone to extreme measures to ensure the title bout would take place.

The American had sent a plastic chicken to the Taylor camp back in June to try and goad the 31-year-old into taking the bout.

However, the Irish star was in no mood for jokes and clinically picked apart her opponent in a dominant display of punch power and accuracy.

From the first bell, Taylor demanded centre ring and began unloading ruthless combinations on her American opponent.

McCaskill bravely stayed on the front foot trying to force the world champion onto the ropes but Taylor’s grit and determination would see her take early control.

Katie Taylor celebrates after her WBA Lightweight World Title fight against Jessica McCaskill at York Hall in London, England. Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Into the second and Taylor was working fluently behind her jab and despite being inadvertently knocked to the floor, the Irish star refused to let her opponent settle.

A slugfest ensued into the third with the challenger catching Taylor with a terrific overhand left which rocked the world champion slightly.

Taylor’s lightning footwork was evident in the fourth with McCaskill struggling to keep pace with the classy Irishwoman.

A brilliant flurry of right hands had McCaskill wobbled in the fifth – Taylor’s ring craft is to be admired.

Into the second half of the fight and the stubborn American had Taylor on the back foot with a sharp left hand, which clearly had the world champion worried.

McCaskill, unorthodox and ragged at times, was proving quite the test for the Bray fighter in her first world title defence and referee Howard Foster took a point off Taylor in round 7 for holding.

A brief opportunity for breath in round eight before Taylor begun to exert her superior punch power qualities to destabilise her gutsy opponent.

The points decision was unanimous and Taylor’s class and superiority shone through to bring the curtain down on a magnificent year for the Bray fighter, who retains her unbeaten record with six big wins in 2017, three by way of knockout.

The target for Taylor in the next 12 months is clear, to unify the lightweight division and further cement her place in boxing folklore.

A 2018 showdown with Argentina’s IBF belt-holder Victoria Noelia Bustos has been rumoured, while the highly-anticipated clash with Belgium star Delfine Persoon, WBC title holder, is most certainly also on the agenda.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has ensured boxing fans that Taylor’s status as a headline fighter will continue into the New Year and more spectacular night’s for Ireland’s very own are most definitely on the horizon.


 

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