Saturday, December 11, M & S Bank Arena, Liverpool, England.
This is a mandatory defence of Katie Taylor’s WBA world lightweight title. However, her other world titles: World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Organisation (WB), International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight belts and the Ring Magazine belt are also up for grabs. Furthermore, Taylor is putting her 19-fight unbeaten professional record on the line.
The 27-year-old mother of one is the first professional female boxer from Kazakhstan. She has a 14-1 professional record and has picked up minor titles at super-featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight.
She lost her first professional fight in 2016 against Russian Sofia Ochigava, who was beaten by Katie Taylor in the Olympic gold medal fight in London in 2012. Ochigava, whose own professional career never took off, is now a member of Sharipova’s backroom team.
Their training camp was situated in a snowy forest outside Moscow, with the team releasing a video of Sharipova chopping down a tree with an axe, like a scene from one of the Rocky movies.
The Kazakh fighter does possess a decent punch and has a better knock-out record than Taylor (53pc to 31pc). But she hasn’t faced the same calibre of opponent. Six of her 14 wins were against boxers making their pro debuts, and she has only faced four women who had winning records.
DAZN, Saturday, 7.0pm. The fight is due to start at around 9.45pm, with final confirmation on the night.
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"I just love staying sharp, really. You can do all the sparring in the world, but nothing is ever the same as actually stepping into the ring and actually fighting.
“I've never, ever found it hard to actually get up and keep myself motivated for these mandatories. I do understand that these girls are coming for all my belts and we're going to see the best of these opponents every time they step into the ring with me.
"You see it all the time in boxing where fighters have a flat performance and they fail to hold onto their belts. So, I can never, ever get complacent. I'm so aware of that.”
“No one else knows how to fight Taylor like Sofya Ochigava. Therefore, not only I, Firuza Sharipova, will be in the ring against Taylor, but the intelligence of Sofya Ochigava, who has prepared me very well for this fight, will be with me."
"Sofya has been in my camp from the very beginning, has passed on all her knowledge to me. I watched their fight in the final of the Olympic Games and I’m sure that the judges helped Taylor. Sofya was better in the fight, she won it.
"Anything can happen in boxing. In the media, many people call me an underdog. But I will prove that I was underestimated. I am flying to Liverpool to win the hearts of the whole world and take the belts from Katie Taylor."
Taylor is 1/20 to retain her belts. Sharipova is a 9/1 shot while the draw is 28/1. Taylor is available at 2/1 to win inside the distance. She last won a contest inside the distance in 2019.
What’s next for Katie?
There would be a rematch in the event of Taylor losing. If Katie secures her expected win, she will be free to begin preparing for her long-anticipated showdown against Amanda Serrano next March in New York. The latter has her final warm-up fight in the US on December 18th in Tampa, Florida against a former Taylor opponent Miriam Gutiérrez. But there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.