Taylor relishing bid to become two-weight world champion

The Irish boxer is stepping up to super-lightweight.

By Press Association Published: 17 September 2019 - 4.19pm

Katie Taylor is relishing the “huge opportunity” that awaits in November when she will bid to follow up unifying the lightweight division by becoming a two-weight world champion.

Taylor is stepping up to super-lightweight to fight Greece’s WBO title-holder Christina Linardatou in a bill-topping clash at Manchester Arena on November 2.

It comes five months on from the 33-year-old Irishwoman adding the WBC lightweight title to her IBF, WBA and WBO belts in that division with victory over Belgian Delfine Persoon at Madison Square Garden.

Taylor said at a press conference in Manchester on Tuesday: “This is a huge opportunity for me. To become a two-weight world champion is history-making for me and my country.

“I’m very aware of the challenge Christina brings. I do believe she is the best 140-pounder in the division and I can’t wait for a very exciting fight.

“This is my first time fighting in the UK in a long time and I absolutely love fighting here. This is my first time in the ring as undisputed lightweight champion as well, so it’s going to be very special.

“This is going to be an absolutely fantastic fight. Christina is a great champion and fighter, and people again are going to see the best of women’s boxing.”

Boxing – Madison Square Garden
Katie Taylor (left) in action against Delfine Persoon in New York (Nick Potts/PA)

Taylor (14-0, 6 KOs) is hoping to fight Persoon again and Puerto Rico’s Amanda Serrano next year, but has stressed she is fully focused on her meeting with Linardatou (12-1, 6 KOs).

“There are huge fights out there for me – the rematch against Persoon, Amanda Serrano,” Taylor said.

“Those fights are going to happen next year some time I hope and it’s going to be a huge 12 months for me. But right now my focus is fully on November 2 and I have to get past Christina. She brings a lot to the table, she is a very, very strong fighter.”

During the press conference, Linardatou’s co-manager Brian Cohen said his fighter was not happy about there being no rematch clause in the event of her being beaten.

Cohen said: “She’s not happy. She’s the champion, we were negotiating for quite some time and she just feels as the champion she should have a rematch clause in the contract.”

Taylor’s promoter Eddie Hearn responded by saying: “You’re that worried about losing already?”

Cohen then said: “You have a rematch clause if she (Linardatou) beats her (Taylor), but not if she (Taylor) beats her (Linardatou), right? Are you worried?”

Hearn replied: “No – we’re not worried, we’ve got one!”, to which Cohen responded: “So why don’t you show some b*******? Show some cojones and put the rematch clause in.”

Linardatou said: “It is going to be a great match. I have been expecting this match for a long time, but under different conditions and circumstances. But at any rate, I will go ahead with this match.

“If Katie wants my title, then she has to get it off me.”

The bill will also feature what is set to be the final fight of Anthony Crolla’s career.

The 32-year-old former WBA lightweight champion, who won the belt at his home venue of Manchester Arena in 2015, will face an opponent that is due to be announced later this week.

Crolla said: “It’s the last one and if it wasn’t going to be Manchester, I probably wouldn’t have had another one.

“I believe I can compete at world level for another year or two, but you stay in boxing too long, it takes more from you than you take from it.

“It’ll be tough walking away but I’ll stay involved in the sport. On November 2 it’s sort of back to where it all started and the arena that has so many special memories for me.

“It could be emotional but I can’t fight on emotions. If I want to get emotional, (I’ll) get emotional after. I’m there to do a job and that’s what I plan on doing.

“There’s so many people asking me about fighting in Manchester one more time and – if people are going to spend their hard-earned money then – it should be a real fight.”