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Long read Katie Taylor opens up about in interview about her legacy, retirement and staying motivated

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Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor

KATIE Taylor will be remembered as Ireland’s most influential female sports star long after she hangs up her gloves.

Already credited with playing a pivotal role in securing Olympic recognition for female boxing she is now changing the face of women’s professional boxing.

Taylor is by far the highest paid female in combat sport. Though the possibility of equal pay for men’s and women’s boxers is still way down the line it looks a realisable goal thanks primarily to the Bray fighter’s achievement and the astute way she is managed.

She rarely gives interviews but ahead of her fight on Saturday night she sat down and did a 30 minutes zoom conference with 49 journalists from all over the world.

It was by some distance the most comprehensive interview she has done since turning professional four years ago.

This is an edited transcript of the interview:

RETIREMENT

“I’m not too sure what ambitions I have left. I don’t like putting any limits on myself. I just take each fight as it comes. But I definitely have no plans to retire any time soon. I hope I will be involved in huge fights for years to come. I just want to leave a fantastic legacy behind me. But right now, I don t know when I am going to retire or how many fights I have left. But I will just take it one more fight at a time."

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Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor

FUTURE OPPONENTS

"I am afraid to mention Amanda Serrano’s name because that fight fell through so many times but it’s obviously still a fight people would be interested in. Jessica McCaskill is obviously a huge fight as well. There’re so many girls really. Chantelle Cameron has been mentioned as well.

"A fight against Natasha Jonas would be fantastic as well. I think Tasha showed in her last fight that she’s still capable of producing great performances. She’s at that level, so it’s a fight that people would be very, very interested in.

"So, if that’s a fight that people want to see, I’m very, very happy to take that it and I am sure, so is she as well. There’s no shortage of big fights out there which is fantastic. But I’m willing to step into the ring with anyone really. I’m not sure what’s next – right now I’m just focusing on Saturday night."

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COVID-19

"It hasn’t affected me too much to be honest. I live a very quiet life anyway. The gym (in Vernon, Connecticut) stayed open for all the fighters over the last few months which was great. It is tricky to get spars because of the situation but it is the same for everyone I suppose. I don’t think I would be doing things much differently if the virus wasn’t around."

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Katie Taylor celebrates with team members Ross Enamait, Brian Peters and Eddie Hearn after her WBA, IBF & WBO Female Lightweight World Championships unification bout

Katie Taylor celebrates with team members Ross Enamait, Brian Peters and Eddie Hearn after her WBA, IBF & WBO Female Lightweight World Championships unification bout

Katie Taylor celebrates with team members Ross Enamait, Brian Peters and Eddie Hearn after her WBA, IBF & WBO Female Lightweight World Championships unification bout

BOXING IN A BUBBLE

"I wasn’t nervous about boxing in the bubble the last time. I don’t feel like I must perform in front of 10,000 people to perform well. As an amateur fighter I boxed in all over the world in empty stadia. Given that experience I knew I was going to be able to perform.

"I think whether there’s 10 people in the crowd or 10,000, I’m always there to win, I’m always there to perform. For the most part, I only listen to the usual voices anyway, the likes of my coach Ross Enamait and just my team really. They’re the only voices I zone in on during a fight."

DELFINE PERSOON DISPUTING THE OUTCOME OF THEIR LAST FIGHT HAVING INITIALLY ACCEPTED IT

"I couldn’t care less what opponents are saying afterwards. It was a very clear victory and anybody who says otherwise don’t know anything about boxing really. I was very happy with my performance."

STAYING MOTIVATED

"I just focus on one fight at a time. I have always wanted to be in the big, big fights. That has always been my mind set. I am not looking to pick and choose my opponents. Every time I step into the ring, I want to produce a great performance which will be talked about. I have always wanted to bring great exposure to women’s boxing and that’s been the case throughout my whole career. So, I guess my mind set hasn’t changed over the years I just want to be the best I can be in every single fight."

HER LEGACY

"I suppose I want girls to grow up and do even better than I have in my career. That is what true legacy looks like. I want those young girls to be multiple-time world champion and multiple- time Olympic champion. I just want fighters of the next generation to dream big dreams I suppose.

"When I was growing there wasn’t any Olympics around, there wasn’t female boxers around on professional cards. The fact that women’s boing is here to stay is incredible and there is a female boxing fight on every professional card now is insane. I never thought I would see that when I was growing up and that is a great legacy. I just want those young girls growing up knowing that they can do the same and even better. "

WHAT MORE DOES SHE WANT TO ACHIEVE?

"I’d love to see maybe the purses rising a bit more. Obviously, the exposure is there now, and people are genuine interested in women’s boxing now which is fantastic. We have obviously made great ground over the past few years with the purses and hopefully that continues as well. As I said I want to shine a good light on women’s boxing.

"I want people to be talking about these fights for years to come and obviously for that to happen champion must fight against champion and the best must fight against the best."

HOW DOES SHE RATE HER OPPONENT ON SATURDAY NIGHT MIRIAM GUTIERREZ?

"She is very good and come into this fight unbeaten. I know she is not as well established as Persoon or some of the other girls I’ve fought but I think she is a lot better than people think. I am expecting a very tough fight. She can be very tricky at times and very awkward as well. These are the kind of fighters that are very hard to look well against at times.

"But I am coming into this fight prepared for anything that comes my way. I am prepared to go into the trenches if necessary. I prepare for every fight if it is going to be my toughest to date and this fight is no different.

"I cannot afford to be complacent before any fight or think that this is going to an easy fight. This is professional boxing, and anything can happen. I am prepared for whatever comes my way. I have prepared for this fight like I did for any other fight. I prepared meticulously as always, and I am looking forward to showcasing that on Saturday night.

"She is more stylistic than what I’ve faced before. It is going to be a completely different challenge and because of that, it’s more experience for myself. I know from watching some of her previous fights that she is more of a boxer than a fighter and I am not too sure that’s going to change on Saturday night.

ANTHONY JOSHUA SAID YOU’RE A ‘SPECIAL FIGHTER’ WHO WILL LEAVE A ‘LASTING LEGACY’, WHAT DO THOSE COMMENTS MEAN TO YOU?

"Coming from such a legacy-building fighter that obviously means so much. Anthony Joshua has been such a huge supporter of myself over the last few years, and of women’s boxing itself, so very, very grateful for those comments. It’s always obviously great to hear nice things about yourself, isn’t it? When it’s coming from someone like Anthony Joshua, that makes it even more special.

WHERE DO YOU RANK YOURSELF?

"Oh, gosh, I don’t think I can put myself… it’s not really for me to put myself as the No 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings, that is for other people to say. I'd obviously love to be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world but that’s not for me to say.

EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN’S PRO FIGHTERS

"I would love to see the purses rising. I think over the last few years, we’ve made great grounds on that. I’m personally very happy with the purses I receive for my fights, but I wouldn’t say no to a pay rise either!

"But I am very, very happy and I feel very privileged to be in the position that I am in, headlining fights and getting the purses that I am getting. I guess it is very low in comparison to what the men are getting. I hope that it increases. We are slowly building ground, but it takes time.

ON THE POSSIBILITY OF FIGHTING CROSS OVER STAR CRIS CYBORG

"I’m not too sure what’s next for me but I would be very, very open to fighting her if that’s a fight that people want to see. I assume if that fight does happen, she will have to come down (in weight) and make it at some sort of a catch weight. Unfortunately, I can’t get up to 170 (pounds) so she would have to come down.

"If the fight was to happen, it would only be in the boxing ring for myself. I can’t imagine myself fighting in a cage. I can fight on my feet alright but if they get me on the ground, I would be clueless. But I am very happy to step into the ring with her if she is "

"I just know the big names in women’s MMA like Amanda Nunes, Cris Cyborg and obviously Holly Holm as well. She has been mentioned as an opponent as well over these last few months. I wouldn’t be watching MMA typically. I wouldn’t be the biggest fan."


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