Her narrow win over Amanda Serrano of Puerto Rico has been remarkable for a variety of reasons. The bout at storied Madison Square Garden, sold out with almost 20,000 fans in attendance, ushered in a new era for women’s boxing and women’s sport more generally.
Gnarled and veteran world boxing commentators said the fervour of Irish and Puerto Rican fans helped generate an intensity of atmosphere reminiscent of those epic struggles of yesteryear in men’s boxing. The sporting excellence and honesty of endeavour of both women showed they can attract an audience and put on an occasion comparable to anything in the men’s fighting game.
The performance of both women simply banished vast swathes of the sexism which has too long plagued boxing specifically and sport more generally. It was a very close bout and Taylor had to dig deep to shade it on a split decision by the judges in the end – making victory all the sweeter.
Taylor has performed at the top in world boxing for 10 years now and she has been a consistent winner. This was her 21st straight victory since turning professional following the disappointment of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
Taylor now holds her five champion belts and remains the undisputed world champion in her weight class. Irish sports fans of all genders and ages have simply taken her to their hearts and she has become a sporting role model for young Irish women. Her win comes at a time when women’s sport in this country is at last taking its rightful place at the top table.
The win also coincides with a remarkable time for the sport of boxing which has been going through serious difficulty, not least in Ireland where links to criminality, hopefully now severed, were dispiriting in the extreme. Taylor’s excellence goes some way toward image remediation in that regard.
It is also notable that in her generosity of spirit, Taylor has given much to the Irish sporting public and asked for little in return.
One thing Taylor dearly wants is being allowed to defend her champion’s title in her native country. A re-match with Amanda Serrano would be a very hot-ticket encounter which would certainly light up a venue in Dublin or elsewhere in the country.
Taylor’s wish will now be intensely shared by very many Irish sporting people. We know that there are practical difficulties associated with this – including the ubiquitous bugbear of public liability insurance.
Yet, it is not beyond the wit of humankind to resolve such difficulties, and surely the Government may also be able to help here in some way. We look forward to adding to Katie Taylor’s good news and celebration with early progress on arrangements for an Irish re-match.