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battle lines Katie Taylor comes face to face with Firuza Sharipova ahead of title showdown

The Kazakh fighter was noticeably less bullish about their showdown than she has been on social media in recent weeks.

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Katie Taylor, left, and Firuza Sharipova, right, with promoter Eddie Hearn. Photo by Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing via Sportsfile

Katie Taylor, left, and Firuza Sharipova, right, with promoter Eddie Hearn. Photo by Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing via Sportsfile

Katie Taylor, left, and Firuza Sharipova, right, with promoter Eddie Hearn. Photo by Mark Robinson / Matchroom Boxing via Sportsfile

KATIE Taylor came face to face with her latest challenger Firuza Sharipova in the University of Liverpool this afternoon.

The Kazakh fighter was noticeably less bullish about their showdown than she has been on social media in recent weeks.

“I have great respect for Katie Taylor,” said Sharipova speaker through an interpreter.

“She has been my idol all the time, but I’ve come here to win. This fight is very important for me, and I have done everything possible to achieve my dream and win the fight.”

Perhaps the realisation of the task she faces has finally dawned on the 27-year-old mother of one. Alternatively, it could be a ruse to lull the Taylor camp into a false sense of security.

But the defending world lightweight champion remained unfazed by any trash talk.

“I heard she was being a bit vocal for the past few weeks, but she seemed quite respectful up there. It is what it is,” said Taylor.

“I don’t find it hard at all to motivate myself in fights like these. I am definitely aware of the challenge I face.

“I am just super focussed on the job in hand. I know no opponent can be overlooked.”

Taylor and her trainer Ross Enamait have been in Liverpool since Saturday fine-tuning her preparations. The undefeated champion acknowledged she finds fight week an ordeal.

“Fight week is usually very, very busy. It is a long week, but I am just trying to get through the obligations and looking forward to stepping in the ring and then getting home for Christmas.”

Taylor’s 20th professional fight has been overshadowed by speculation about a showdown in April against Amanda Serrano. She insists she is only focussed on this weekend’s challenge.

“I have to get through Saturday night and then obviously focus on the bigger fights. I am aware that there are several big fights out there for me with the bigger name that could possibly happen next year.”

As a student of the sport, she is aware of the number of upsets there has been in the ring in the last month.

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She recalled that in her amateur career she underestimated opponents and paid the price.

“I learned my lesson the hard way. So, I am one hundred per cent prepared and one hundred percent focussed on putting in a big performance.”

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