The Irish Times - Sports Weekend

‘ Ready to go’ Taylor puts titles on the line against Jonas

Bray boxer is undaunted by pressure that comes with being the favourite to triumph

- Johnny Watterson

The l ast t i me Katie Taylor fought a southpaw profession­ally was 2017 in a world title eliminator in Wembley Stadium on the under card of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweigh­t defeat of Vladimir Klitschko. It was Taylor’s fifth fight after leaving amateur boxing following a disappoint­ing Rio Olympics.

That night Nina Meinke returned to the lockerroom in the seventh round of a scheduled 10, when the referee decided the German boxer had taken enough punishment.

Good karma for Taylor, who has now gone 17 straight fights unbeaten. It is another lefty she faces in the Manchester Arena om tonight in Liverpool’s Natasha Jonas, with her undisputed lightweigh­t world titles going on the line.

Jonas comes to the table with a scratchy record of nine wins and one defeat from 11 bouts with an unlikely draw against world champion Terri Harper last summer, a contest some “experts” predicted would be over within two rounds.

“My preparatio­n hasn’t really changed much from fight to fight,” said Taylor this week. “Obviously the sparring partners have changed. That’s the only part that actually changes during the training camp.

“So, I’ve had some southpaws sparing there for the last few months so that’s never an issue really. So, yeah, I’m feeling very, very good. I fought a southpaw before the girl Meinke early on in my pro career. But that was a late replacemen­t as well.

“This is the first time I actually have proper southpaw sparring as a pro. I f eel i n good shape, ready to go, but nothing has really changed in training, just the sparring partners.”

Third bout

Taylor will be pawing the dirt to get out for only her third bout since November 2019. She managed two contests last year in the pandemic, and for her that is a slow year. This is her first of 2021.

Jonas is moving up about five pounds from super featherwei­ght, and her warning has been not unlike the stream of fighters that Taylor has seen off before. One punch to land can change everything, a fight detail about which Jonas has being reminding Taylor all week.

It is a valid point, but one nobody has been able to execute against one of the best technician­s in boxing, male or female.

Taylor will probably always have that expertise advantage against opponents.

If Jonas is to learn anything from previous fights it was how Delphine Persoon crowded Tayl or and seduced her i nto a punching battle in the first of the two outings. Both were hitting each other like a piñata to see who cracked first and it was very nearly Taylor.

“I don’t feel any pressure. I look at those performanc­es as great victories, the first fight was a lot closer, but I think I showed in the first fight that I have a lot of heart and a lot of grit and determinat­ion, and I came out with a gruelling win,” said Taylor. “The second fight was obviously a lot more clear cut and a great performanc­e, so I felt really good after that fight. I don’t feel under pressure at all really. There is pressure going into every fight, because I am aware that often I am the favourite.

‘‘ This is the first time I actually have proper southpaw sparring as a pro. I feel in good shape

Pressure

“But that’s a good thing as well. Pressure is a privilege, and I feel pressure to be in the position where I am winning fights and my record as a fighter is a good one, and that’s why there is pressure because it’s a test that you are doing well in the ring.”

For the fans who can’t remember back to the London

Olympics in 2012, Taylor’s first bout of the games against Jonas was the best of the competitio­n, with both amateurs adopting an offensive position.

That again would work for Jonas but Taylor may be more cautious knowing her opponent will be dying to release her left backhand and discover the magical one punch that lands and can end a contest. Otherwise it is difficult to see how Jonas can do damage against the quicker hand speed of Taylor, her positional movement and ability to land combinatio­ns.

The co- main event to Derek Chisora and Joseph Parker, the lightweigh­t bout is expected to get under way at around 9pm on Matchroom. tv.

 ?? PHOTOGRAPH: INPHO ?? World champion Katie
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Taylor with promoter Eddie Hearn and tonight’s opponent Natasha Jonas from Liverpool at a press conference yesterday.
PHOTOGRAPH: INPHO World champion Katie ■ Taylor with promoter Eddie Hearn and tonight’s opponent Natasha Jonas from Liverpool at a press conference yesterday.
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