Week 211 (28 October – 3 November)
Despite Anthony Joshua being the top billing at the weekend in Cardiff, it was boxer Katie Taylor who shared the headlines after she became WBA female lightweight champion, defeating Anahi Sanchez at the Principality Stadium on Saturday night.
Unbeaten in seven professional bouts, four won by knockout, Taylor now has her sights set on unifying the lightweight division. Despite a calf injury, plans are in place for a return to the ring in December, before a potential unification fight in Taylor’s home country of Ireland next spring.
Taylor is already considered one of the finest female boxers in history. After a stellar amateur career in which Taylor won five consecutive World Championship titles, six European Championships and Olympic gold at London 2012, “The Bray Bomber” made the decision to turn professional in 2016.
Taylor’s speed, stamina and assertiveness in the ring have led her through a glittering career, but her rise to prominence, coupled with the growth of women’s boxing in general, has given her a platform to inspire a new generation of female boxers.
Speaking ahead of her title fight, Taylor said:
“This is the biggest night of my career. I am so excited about it. These are the sort of fights that are going to elevate women’s boxing. It’s definitely a big step up.
“I have always wanted to be a history maker and break down barriers,” she said. “I think I have done that in amateur boxing and I think I have the platform to do it in the pro ranks as well.”
Earlier this year, Taylor was awarded the Sky Outstanding Contribution to Women's Sport in 2017 accolade, and has drawn praise from across the sporting community.
“She has such natural, brilliant movement that other fighters cannot contain her,” former World Champion Carl Froch said. 5000m Olympic silver medallist Sonia O’Sullivan praised Taylor’s discipline and her “aura of strength and invincibility.” It seems that with every win, Taylor is breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for young girls to follow in her footsteps.
Throughout her career, Taylor has had to defend her choice of sport from critics of female boxing, but continued to show dedication and commitment to her craft. Alongside other boxing role-models, such as Team GB gold medallist Nicola Adams, there is a new generation of female boxers who are forging new paths on the professional circuit.
Over many decades, boxers have become the iconic figures of their cause; raising the profile of an issue and garnering national attention by speaking out. In 2017, Katie Taylor’s performances in the ring have offered a similar beacon of hope for women’s sport. If she can go on to unify the division next spring, 2018 may be the best year yet for female boxing.