Tuesday 26 March 2019

Katie putting it all on the line

Taylor happy to risk world title in bid to add another in New York clash

FACE-OFF: Katie Taylor and Victoria Bustos ahead of their IBF and WBA World lightweight unification bout on the Straight Outta Brooklyn fight night card. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
FACE-OFF: Katie Taylor and Victoria Bustos ahead of their IBF and WBA World lightweight unification bout on the Straight Outta Brooklyn fight night card. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Establishing new frontiers has been the hallmark of Katie Taylor's remarkable boxing career. In the early hours of tomorrow morning she is aiming to set another record and become only the third Irish fighter to unify World professional titles.

As always, there is a risk attached as the 31-year-old Bray woman puts her WBA World lightweight belt on the line in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York against Argentinian Victoria Noelia Bustos.

Though two years younger than Katie, Bustos has had 22 fights since turning professional in 2011 and has boxed 164 rounds compared to eight contests and 22 rounds for Taylor.

But if Taylor wins her ninth professional bout on the spin, she will not just keep the WBA title, but add Bustos' IBF 135lb belt to her collection.

Then it will be a case of two down; two to go and Taylor is hell bent on completing the collection before the end of the 2018. If she achieves her goal, she would join Norwegian welterweight Cecilia Braekhus as the only other undisputed World champion in women's professional boxing.

"Last year was huge for me but it was only the start and I believe that 2018 will be even bigger. Unifying the lightweight division was a goal of mine from day one in the pros and I want to have all the belts by the end of the year."

She wants only to fight the best. "When I turned pro, I was adamant I was going to take big fights. The worst thing about professional boxing for me is that people aren't willing to take risks and aren't willing to take the big fights - they're so concerned about the zero on their record

"I wasn't going to be that fighter. I was going to take all the big fights out there and I was going to take risks, and that's what women's boxing needs," she tells Ring Magazine.

Although the Taylor-Bustos showdown will not be shown on US TV, it is measure of Taylor's growing reputation in the States that the magazine, regarded world-wide as the 'bible of boxing', featured her in an article under the heading 'Humble Conqueror'

Taylor has been a poster girl for women's boxing since her gold medal at the London Olympics.

In contrast Bustos - even though she is the second longest reigning World champion after Braekhus - is not even the best-known sports person in her native Rosario, where she still lives. But then she has to compete with Lionel Messi, who also hails from the city in northern Argentina.

Taylor secured her WBA world belt in only her sixth pro fight last October when she beat another Argentinian fighter Anahi Esther Sánchez in Cardiff. Incidentally the latter has since bounced back and now holds the WBA super-lightweight belt.

Sánchez packed a decent punch - nine of her 17 career wins up to that point had been achieved via knockout. There is no evidence to suggest that Bustos - who will be making her debut outside Argentina tonight - possesses similar power.

The most notable statistic about her career is that all her 18 wins have been achieved on points. She has lost four times - compatriots Natalia Vanesa del Valle Aguirre and Erica Farias both beat her twice - but she has never been stopped.

Given the speed of Taylor's boxing and her exceptional footwork, she ought to have too much craft for Bustos, though the latter's durability and bravery will probably ensure the contest goes the full 10 rounds.

It will be small price to pay for matching the achievements of Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett and becoming only the third Irish boxer to unify a professional belt. And given that she is still a novice in professional boxing her best might be yet to come.

The Taylor-Bustos contest is on the undercard of a middleweight clash between Brooklyn native Daniel Jacobs -who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2011 - but made a full recovery, and Maciej Sulecki.

Taylor and Jacobs are both managed by Eddie Hearn's Matchroom organisation .

Also fighting on the 'Straight Outta Brooklyn' show is Monaghan-born light-welterweight Larry Fryers who is now based in East Durham in upstate New York. He is bidding to extend his unbeaten professional record to 7-0 when he challenges Russian Nikolay Buzolin.

  • The Taylor-Bustos fight will be shown live on Sky Sport at 2am.

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