Since turning professional Katie Taylor (20-0, 6) has been one of the faces of the new wave of female boxing, and certainly has helped women boxers get more attention and acknowledgement in the last few years. Sadly though her time at the top looks like it is number, despite the fact she retained her Undisputed Lightweight title earlier this evening, with a wide decision win over Kazakh challenger Firuza Sharipova (14-2, 8).
Early on Sharipova showed a lot of hunger as she looked to take the fight to Taylor in the opening round and let her shots. It was a nice start for the challenger, but as she looked like she was fighting with a lot of nervous energy. As that nervous energy dissipated she began to slow down, and by round 3 it seemed like Taylor was taking control of the bout at last. As the pace slowed Taylor managed to find the room for her straight shots, though she was neglecting her usually solid jab.
In round 5 the bout was becoming very scrappy, and messy with holding, head clashes and just general sloppiness. That resulted in Sharipova getting a cut from a clash of heads and being deducted a point in round 6 as the bout slipped away from the challenger. From there on Taylor seemed to do enough every round to take them, but she didn't look like the star we've become accustomed to seeing. In fact in round 8 she looked really tired, and she struggled to control the action at times, as both fighters showed their exhaustion.
In round we saw both women letting shots in what was the best round of the fight, with both landing clean, heavy shots late on. By then Taylor was in a comfortable lead, but she was willing to put on a show to finish the bout.
After 10 rounds Taylor took a clear decision, but it was, very much, a bout that seemed to show she wasn't the fighter she once was. She looked very much like a 35 year old, who is having her career, and her wars, catch up with her. We really do wonder if this win will be one of her last. After the win there was talk about a fight with Amanda Serrano in 2022, and whilst that is a great fight, it does feel like Taylor has perhaps aged to the point where she will actually be the under-dog.
As for Sharipova, we dare say she was flattered by Taylor not being the fighter she once was. And even then she was second best, by a long way.