Undisputed champ Katie Taylor won’t overlook Jennifer Han, hopes to put on great performance
Katie Taylor must be the envy of so many boxers in 2021.
The unbeaten superstar from Brey, Ireland is a former Olympic champion. She’s the reigning undisputed lightweight champion of the world. Opponents in and around her division are falling over themselves to take her on. And at 35, taylor shows no signs of slowing down, and has the same passion for the sport now as she did turning professional five years ago.
On Saturday, Taylor takes on former IBF featherweight titleholder Jennifer Han at Headingly Stadium in Leeds, England. Despite the fact that Han has operated at top level, Taylor is a prohibitive 12/1 favorite in a two-horse race, therefore this mandatory assignment is viewed by fans and media as a chance for Taylor to perform more than fight.
So, what does the champion expect from the 38-year-old from El Paso?
“I tend not to watch a lot of my opponents.” said Taylor (18-0, 6 KOs) during a Zoom call with assembled media on Tuesday. “I leave that stuff up to my coach (Ross Enamait), but I have seen a few clips of her. She’s got a nice, solid amateur background, she’s very technical, so I think she’s going to bring her best game, and that’s usually the case when [opponents] step into the ring against myself.
“I’m expecting a very tough fight. She has a great record. She’s earned her place as the number one challenger with the IBF, so she’s here to take all my belts, but I’m obviously here to take all my belts home. I’m looking forward to a great night, a great performance from myself, and I know she’ll be bringing her best game.”
Han’s lofty IBF rating probably stems from the fact that she’s a former titleholder with that particular sanctioning organization. However, she’s been woefully inactive. To put things in perspective, in the time it’s taken Taylor to unify an entire division and capture a junior welterweight title, Han (18-3-1, 1 KO) has competed three times against less than stellar opposition.
Taylor has already defeated Jessica McCaskill, Victoria Eva Wahlstrom, Victoria Noelia Bustos, Rose Volante, Delfine Persoon (twice), Christina Linardatou and Natasha Jonas. McCaskill, the reigning undisputed welterweight champ, is interested in a rematch, as is Jonas – who pushed Taylor hard in her last bout on May 1 – and unified featherweight titleholder Amanda Serrano could soon make the jump to 135 pounds.
“I have no idea who’s next, and I’m obviously focused on this fight on Saturday night,” said Taylor, ever the consummate professional. “There’s a lot of big names out there – the Serranos, the McCaskills – I’d love those fights, but I just have to get over Saturday night.
“I didn’t see [the Serrano] fight (W UD 10 Yamileth Mercado), but I heard it was a very good and dominant performance from her. I think she said afterwards that she wants to unify [the featherweight] division first, so I don’t know when that fight could be made. It’s a fight that’s been talked about for years and it not happening is not because of me. I want the big names and the big fights.”
Having four recognized world title belts has its plus points and its challenges. Being undisputed is a historic achievement, but sanctioning fees won’t be pretty, and mandatory obligations will be coming out of the ceiling. With that said, providing all goes well on Saturday, Ireland’s undisputed champ is sure to be in big fights very soon, and she wants them on both sides of the pond.
“Yeah, I’d love that,” said Taylor in earnest. “The last four fights have been in the U.K., which is incredible, but I would love to have a few more fights in the U.S., so I’m sure that is on the radar at some stage.”
Taylor vs. Han is chief support to the featherweight rematch between Mauricio Lara and Josh Warrington. Both bouts, plus Conor Benn vs. Adrian Granados and additional undercard action, will be broadcast by DAZN.
Tom Gray is Managing Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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