As superfight vs. Amanda Serrano looms, Katie Taylor isn’t looking past Jennifer Han

·Combat columnist
·4-min read

There is no country that loves combat sports more than Ireland, and there are few fighters the Irish love more deeply than Katie Taylor.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist may well be the best female pound-for-pound fighter in the world. She’s unbeaten and largely unchallenged, as dominant during her 18-0 run to the undisputed lightweight title as the legendary Floyd Mayweather was during his epic 50-0 career.

If she’s not the best there is, she’s in a small group along with Claressa Shields and Amanda Serrano in a battle for that top spot. On Saturday in Leeds, England, in a bout streamed on DAZN, she’ll defend her title against American Jennifer Han.

The money fight for Taylor, the one that will raise the passions of the Irish to the point where they were in 2012 at the ExCel Center in London when she defeated Sofya Ochigava in the final to capture the gold medal, is against Serrano. A pair of legends, among the best to ever do it, going head-to-head for all the marbles, will turn Taylor’s country into Taylorland for a night, and longer if she prevails.

Though it’s been nine long years since that fantastic night in London when Ireland shut down to watch Taylor become the first Irish gold medalist in 16 years, it still reverberates.

“Every now and then I’ll see a clip [of the Olympic finale], it’s amazing to see the reaction of the crowd,” Taylor said, beaming.

She still engenders that passion as a professional. She fights for more than just herself, her passion for what she’s doing always shining through.

Serrano is one of the biggest punchers in the history of the women’s fight game, one of the few women able to score knockouts with either hand. Serrano is 41-1-1 with 30 knockouts and has held titles in seven weight classes.

MANCHESTER , UNITED KINGDOM - 2 November 2019; Katie Taylor following her WBO Women's Super-Lightweight World title fight victroy ove Christina Linardatou at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Katie Taylor enjoys her WBO women's super lightweight title fight victory over Christina Linardatou in Manchester, England. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

For as great as she is, even Taylor doesn’t have that kind of finishing pop. Taylor is 18-0 with six KOs and all of her work has come in the lightweight and super lightweight divisions.

“I’d love to have more punching power,” Taylor said. “I’d love to see more knockouts within the sport as well. I don’t think it has anything to do with the two-minute rounds [women box two as opposed to the three-minute rounds men box], to be quite honest. I think we have to develop more power and learn how to sit down on our punches a bit more, maybe. That’s something I’ve worked on for the last few months.”

That is what separates Taylor from the rest of the pack. She’s a perfectionist and no matter how good she does, she always believes she can do better.

She’s constantly looking to add to her game and find ways to add new weapons to her arsenal. Her punches are tight and crisp and her footwork is smooth because she drills those things over repeatedly.

Han is 18-3-1 with just one knockout and doesn’t seem to be in Taylor’s class. Taylor, a -5000 favorite vs. Han at BetMGM, praises her as a good technical boxer and will expound at length on Han’s skills if you let her.

It’s another of the long list of attributes she brings to the table. She doesn’t look past anyone, and she’s not looking past Han. Even though the big-money payday with Serrano looms, Taylor isn’t inclined to talk about her with Han in front of her on Saturday.

“I’m expecting the toughest fight from Jennifer,” Taylor said. “She has a lot of amateur experience and she’s a very technical fighter. She’s a six-time world champion. She was my No. 1 mandatory as well, so I had to take the fight. These girls have stepped up and they’ve boxed beyond themselves. They have raised their games against me. I am expecting a very, very tough fight and I’m going to be prepared like I have been for every single fight I’ve had over the last few years.

“She is a fighter who believes in herself. This fight is going to bring the best out of the both of us. I love the fact that she’s stepping into the ring confident like I am, as well.”

Taylor believes and so does all of Ireland. The pressure is there, but it’s been on her shoulders for years and she rises to the challenge each time. With what potentially lies ahead — a career-high payday and pound-for-pound showdown — expect to see the best Taylor ever on Saturday.

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