Katie taylor takes first step towards being the one and only champion sport the guardian electricity a level physics


Taylor, who became a celebrity after winning gold at the 2012 London Olympics, is down to her final preparations after a three-month training camp in Vernon, the small Connecticut town 120 miles north-east of New York where she relocated permanently last year to train with her coach, Ross Enamait, at the Manchester ROCS Boxing Club. The change of scenery was just what Taylor needed after a blotchy final year in the unpaid ranks where she suffered her first defeats in five years – three in four months – and at the Rio Olympics recorded a shock quarter-final defeat by Finland’s Mira Potkonen.

Nothing has been left to chance against Bustos, an experienced boxer who has made five successful defences of the IBF title since winning it in 2013. “This is my toughest test yet,” said Taylor, who is unbeaten in eight fights. “She’s a proven champion, a great champion, clever and crafty. I feel like I’m in great shape and I’m well prepared, I’m looking forward to it.”

Taylor is not alone in her belief that boxing’s alphabet soup of sanctioning bodies and lack of identifiable champions is the sport’s most glaring flaw, making the sport incomprehensible to casual observers while cheapening the currency of a world title. She is, however, uniquely positioned to do something about it, at least as far as the lightweight division is concerned.

“I’d just have one world champion at each weight instead of having so many sanctioning bodies,” Taylor said. “There’s so many great fighters at each weight but they all kind of avoid one another. Years ago there was only one champion at each weight and that’s why the big fights always happened.”

Taylor’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has not been cautious about moving his fighter along quickly and would be eager to make fights with Belgium’s Delfine Persoon, the former kickboxer who holds the World Boxing Council belt, and Brazil’s Rose Volante, the World Boxing Organisation champion, before the year is out.

“My thoughts are on Saturday night for the time being but my dream all along was to unify the division,” Taylor said. “I’d love to box those great champions. I’m very lucky that in and around the lightweight division there are a lot of great champions.”

Taylor believes there is no reason why women’s boxing cannot be elevated the same way Ronda Rousey lifted women’s mixed martial arts from sideshow to headline attraction . It’s a tall order for a sport that has been all but ignored aside from odd moments through the years – Christy Martin landing the cover of Sports Illustrated or Laila Ali trading on the family name to supplement her talent – but not an impossible one.

The success of Rousey required the full backing of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which puts the same marketing and promotional heft behind its female fighters as its male counterparts. Boxing’s power brokers have largely been reluctant to invest in female fighters. And yet there are reasons for optimism.

HBO announced on Thursday that Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus, the undisputed welterweight champion widely regarded as the pound-for-pound world No 1, will defend her titles on the televised undercard of next week’s Gennady Golovkin fight against Vanes Martirosyan in Los Angeles, marking the first women’s bout to be televised by the network.

Then there is Claressa Shields, the two-times Olympic gold medallist and unified world champion at 168lbs, who will headline a Showtime telecast against Costa Rica’s Hanna Gabriels, the unified champion at 154lbs, in a summit meeting at 160lbs for the vacant IBF and WBA middleweight titles. The undercard will feature Germany’s Christina Hammer, who holds the WBC and WBO titles. Should Shields and Hammer win their fights, the pair will face off in a four-belt unification fight in the autumn.

“It’s great to see Claressa headlining shows, to see more women’s fights on television,” Taylor said. “People’s perception of women’s boxing have really changed over the last year or two. A lot of times it feel like baby steps, but the big fights have to be made as well, the ones the public are interested in. For the first time in a long time, people are really showing the best of women’s boxing, which is very special for the sport.”