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Katie Taylor fighting fit for Sharipova, eyes Serrano for early 2022

Taylor against Natasha Jonas. Photo by Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing
06
Dec

For the most part 2021 has been about biding time for undisputed lightweight queen Katie Taylor, but it’s never easy at the top.

Many expected former amateur rival Natasha Jonas to be out of her depth when the pair collided in May, but Jonas provided a stern test before losing on points. Four months later IBF mandatory challenger Jennifer Han was given even less chance of victory, yet confounded the critics to last the full 10-round distance.

Taylor (19-0, 6 KOs) has remained focused in spite of the odds being in her favor and the perceptions of others. A loss would be disastrous in terms of career momentum, so the swift hitting champion from Bray, Ireland will be fully charged when she faces WBA mandatory challenger Firuzi Sharipova (14-1, 8 KOs) at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England on Saturday.

“I never have trouble motivating myself for mandatories because I do understand that these girls are coming to win as well,” said Taylor in a recent conference call with assembled media. “We’re going to see the best of these opponents each and every time they step into the ring with me.

“You see it all the time in boxing when fighters have flat performances and fail to hang on to their belt. I can never get complacent and I’m so aware of that. I never find it tough to focus even when there’s so much noise around other fights. My focus is completely on the fight ahead.”

Will Taylor and Serrano finally collide? Photo by Amanda Westcott/ Showtime

Should Taylor defeat the 27-year-old from Kazakhstan, as expected, all attention will shift to seven-weight world ruler Amanda Serrano. A Taylor-Serrano bout has been mooted for several years but this is the closest both camps have come to reaching a deal.

Will it finally happen?

“I think so,” replied Taylor when asked if the fight was likely for the first quarter of 2022. “Even the fact that she’s fighting one of my past opponents (Miriam Gutierrez on December 18), I think that’s the perfect buildup to our fight. It’s looking very likely that the fight will happen early next year, and the fact that she’s teamed up with Jake Paul (Most Valuable Promotions) as well, I think that’s even more incentive for her. [The Serrano fight] is looking likely, but we have to get past our opponents, then we can speak about it seriously.”

The 35-year-old Taylor is never short on options, even when prospective opponents are two-weight classes above her. Undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill, who rolled over Kandi Wyatt in seven rounds on Saturday, remains a tantalizing rematch for the pound for pound No. 1.

“It’s always a possibility,” Taylor said enthusiastically. “I’ve beaten her before and I’ll have no problems beating her again. She has all the belts at 147, but there’s so many big names that have been thrown out for me over the last year: Serrano, Chantelle Cameron, Jessica McCaskill, Mikaela Mayer – these kind of girls. I just have to take it one fight at a time. It’s hard to focus on too many names. I’m more than willing and I have a huge desire to settle things with all those girls, so I guess we’ll see what happens.”

With so many accomplishments under her belt and having pioneered the women’s game for so long, Taylor is simply adding icing to her Hall of Fame cake from here on out. With that said, she shows no sign of slowing down and her motivation to slay more dragons remains simple.

“I just want to be the best I can be,” offered Taylor following some deliberation. “I want to leave a legacy behind me. People still haven’t seen the best of me yet.”

Taylor-Sharipova along with a co-main event between Conor Benn and Chris Algieri, plus other undercard bouts, will be broadcast live and exclusively by DAZN.

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Tom Gray is Managing Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

 

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