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Katie Taylor revelled in the “best night” of her career after showing immense resilience to narrowly outpoint Amanda Serrano in an enthralling battle at a packed Madison Square Garden.
A fight branded as the biggest in the history of women’s boxing justified the billing as the momentum swung both ways, with Taylor soaking up a brutal onslaught from her opponent in the middle rounds.
The Irish fighter was rocked on multiple occasions and seemed on the verge of being stopped but she showed terrific composure thereafter and used every ounce of her experience to finish strongly.
Two judges scored the fight in her favour 97-93 and 96-93, with a third plumping for Serrano 96-94, handing Taylor a split-decision win as she retained her status as undisputed lightweight champion.
Having overcome Serrano, a nine-time world champion in seven divisions, in a cacophonous atmosphere in front of a sell-out 19,187 crowd, the London 2012 gold medallist believes she is at her zenith.
“I had to dig deep in there, I had to produce a career-defining performance to actually win,” Taylor said at a post-fight press conference. “We definitely got the best out of each other, that’s for sure.
“Everybody was talking about this as the biggest fight in women’s boxing history but I think it actually exceeded everything that people were talking about.
“This was a special, special moment. It was the best night of my career. I wasn’t sure if anything could reach my Olympic gold medal moment but that was absolutely the best moment of my career.”
The first women’s bout to headline New York’s famed venue, which staged the ‘Fight of the Century’ between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali in 1971, will go do down as one of the best contests of the year.
But the debatable result means a rematch has already been mentioned, with Croke Park in Dublin the possible destination later this year for Taylor, who has not yet fought professionally in Ireland.
“The rematch would be absolutely phenomenal and if it was in Dublin, we could sell out Croke Park,” the 35-year-old said.
“That would be unbelievable. We’ve seen something special here. Imagine fighting in front of 80 or 90,000 people at Croke Park. Absolutely, that can happen.
“I have no plans of retiring right now. I love my sport, I love fighting and I just want to keep making history and keep doing what I’m doing.”
After keeping hold of her WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO titles and extending her unbeaten professional record to 21 wins from as many fights following an encounter that left both combatants with bloodied and bruised faces, Taylor was also keen to hone in on the bigger picture.
“Both myself and Amanda have broken down so many barriers over the last few years in our sport,” she added. “I guess we’re both winners in a certain way after this.
“What we do and actually achieved absolutely is going to inspire a lot of young girls after that fight.
“At Madison Square Garden, there was Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, now people will absolutely be talking about myself and Amanda Serrano for years and years to come. This was a history-making fight.”
Serrano’s promoter Jake Paul, the former YouTube star, tweeted “Robbed” at the verdict, but the 33-year-old, who remains a unified featherweight champion, focused on the occasion rather than the outcome.
“It was a great fight – that’s all I wanted to do,” the Puerto Rican said. “I wanted to put on a great fight to show that women can fight, we can sell and I’m glad that I put on a performance.
“I gave it what I had and it (Taylor winning the decision) is what it is.
“I want to continue to open the doors for young girls in the sport. I never thought I was going to be here, making history. I’m glad I got to see it. I’m just so excited that young girls have two great role models they can look up to and want to be like.”
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