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Katie survives a tough slugfest

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Katie Taylor, left, in action against Delfine Persoon during their Undisputed Lightweight Titles fight at Brentwood in Essex. Photo: Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing via Sportsfile

Katie Taylor, left, in action against Delfine Persoon during their Undisputed Lightweight Titles fight at Brentwood in Essex. Photo: Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing via Sportsfile

Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing

Katie Taylor, left, in action against Delfine Persoon during their Undisputed Lightweight Titles fight at Brentwood in Essex. Photo: Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing via Sportsfile

Katie Taylor defended her undisputed World lightweight title in her eagerly awaited rematch against Belgian police officer Delfine Persoon.

On an autumnal evening in the Essex countryside, Taylor did as she had promised and schooled her opponent in the sweet science of boxing.

Though it was still close, Taylor’s superior skills were rewarded with a unanimous victory. Victor Loughlin scored the fight 98-93 in favour of Taylor, which was rough justice on Persoon who sustained a suspected broken nose in round two

The other two judges scored it 96-94, which meant that Taylor won six of the ten rounds of another gruelling contest.

When asked about the possibility of a third fight against Persoon, Taylor commented: “Give me a break.”

The results means Taylor (right) keeps her WBA, IBF, WBC and WBO world titles as well as the Ring Magazine belt awarded after the first Persoon fight for becoming an undisputed World champion.

She extends also her unbeaten record in professional boxing to 16-0.

As always Persoon was game and fought to the end but she couldn’t inveigle Taylor into the kind of brawl which made the second half of their first meeting so enthralling, but almost catastrophic for the undefeated champion.

A delighted Taylor said: “I knew it was going to be tough fight. I fought a lot better than in the last fight and I stuck to my boxing . You can’t relax at all in there with Persoon. What an amazing two fights for women’s boxing. I think it was a lot more convincing win than the last one.”

“I respect the result. I have no problem with it,” said Persoon. “I felt I hadn’t enough power to hurt her,” she said explaining she had dropped to 57kg after her illness earlier this spring.

In fairness the challenger could hardly have been at her best. She took the fight as six weeks’ notice and even before the onset of Covid-19 had a traumatic spring.

Best

She was diagnosed with a neck hernia which affected the movement in her left hand.

For Taylor it was a night of vindication having being bitterly disappointed with her performance in Madison Square Garden.

At the second time of asking she ticked all the boxes and enhanced her reputation not just as the best pound for pound female boxer in the world, but one of the better world champions in the sport.

Eddie Hearn’s punt to invest in her four years ago in the wake of her disappointing performance at the Rio Olympics has been vindicated. She has single-handedly revolutionised women professional fighting.

She has become a millionaire in the process and stands to make millions more so long as she keeps winning. The one thing missing from her CV is a fight in Ireland.

She would dearly love to correct that before hanging up her gloves but is it a call outside her control.

This was Taylor’s first big fight without a sizeable audience since the 2016 amateur World championship semi-final which she lost to French woman Estelle Mosselly in the Baris Arena in Astana, Kazakhstan.

It was her first pro fight since winning the World super lightweight belt in Manchester In November

Persoon also won a low key super featherweight bout in Belgium in November before her ill-fated appearance at the Olympic qualifier tournament in London in March which later prompted an uncharacteristic caustic comment from Taylor:

‘She needs to learn how to box.’

There no tricolours flying or fans cheering when Taylor made her ring walk serenaded by a Phil Collins hit. Though Persoon looked the more aggressive from the bell

Taylor caught her opponent with a crisp left in the early exchanges, she kept her distance and tied up Persoon, though the Belgian did better in the closing 30 seconds of the round.

Taylor looked razor sharp in round two but Persoon wasn’t in the least fazed as she continued to try and draw the champion into a brawl but already a big swelling was developing under her right eye.

Clashes

At the start of round three Taylor deployed her body shots for the first time but Persoon landed three big successive rights as the fighters’ heads clashes but this was Persoon’s big round by a distance.

Taylor stayed out of trouble at the start of round 4 but such was Persoon’s aggression she looked to be dominating but Taylor again landed a couple of clean shots though Persoon finished the round stronger. \u0009

The two fighters clinched repeatedly in the first thirty seconds of the fifth round and though Persoon two decent rights Taylor was more clinical with fewer punches.

Taylor looked to have edged the first five rounds but as in the original fight it was difficult to score.

The pressure from Persoon was relentless­. Her work-rate was superb but Taylor’s defence was excellent in the sixth but at the end of the round there was a significant egg-shaded swelling on Persoon’s forehead

In round seven Taylor’s boxing skills came to the fore again but as she had throughout the fight Persoon came forward in the second minute of the round and landed with her trademark right.

Persoon complained about a late shot from Taylor but the moment seemed to swing her into action and she finished the round looking the better fighter.

Taylor landed with a decent right in the ninth but Persoon’s relentless pressure was putting the champion under constant pressure and her ability to finish the round looking stronger could prove crucial.

In the final round Persoon went on the offensive but Taylor landed a good left hook and regardless of how many punches Taylor landed Persoon just rolled forward.

Finally in the closing thirty seconds Taylor stood her ground and exchanged shots.

Once again the verdict went to the judges and they sided with Taylor, with Victor Loughlin giving her the fight 98-93, while the other two judges scored it 96-94 in favour of the defending champion.

Significantly, she time around Persoon clapped the decision and then bowed before her opponent before the fighters embraced.

Mega

This victory puts Taylor on course for a mega fight against the newly-crowned undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill, who Taylor beat in 2017.

The Chicago-based merchant banker also holds two super lightweight world belts. So there would be a remarkable ten world belts at stake if Taylor v McCaskill II went ahead.

Matchroom would be reluctant to stage such a lucrative fight behind closed doors. While the Covid-19 the restrictions remain in place Taylor might be pitted against Liverpool lightweight Natasha Jonas in another behind closed doors Matchroom Fight Club show.