Katie Taylor: The Bray Bomber's astonishing rise to the top of women's boxing

Split image of boxer Katie Taylor with her Olympic gold medal and title belts

Katie Taylor is one of the most recognised names in women’s boxing and is on the cusp of making history as the first female fighter to headline Madison Square Garden.

She will join Amanda Serrano at the iconic arena on April 30th to defend her undisputed lightweight championships.

Taylor was just 12 when she slipped on her first pair of gloves in 1998. She was coached by her father, Peter, who had an affinity for boxing and trained both his daughter and two sons.

From there, the only way was up for the Irish prodigy, and her ascension to stardom is certainly one to be marvelled at.

Here’s a look at how The Bray Bomber rose into the spotlight and earned the biggest fight in women’s boxing history.

Olympic boxing history

Taylor hit the ground running as an amateur — brushing aside almost every single opponent she came up against.

Her first noteworthy success came in 2005 when she defeated Finland’s Eva Wahlström to win the European Championships for the first time in her career. From there, nothing could stop Taylor on her path to glory.

The following year, she became Ireland’s first ever World Champion, adding the never-before-seen achievement to her constantly growing list.

Four World Championships and five European titles later and The Bray Bomber was ready to make even more history.

At the 2012 Olympics, women’s boxing was added to the roster for the first time ever. Taylor was called up to represent Ireland and, with the support of her nation behind her, she demolished the competition.

Taylor defeated Natasha Jonas, Mavzuna Chorieva, and finally Sofya Ochigava before being crowned the first ever women’s Olympic lightweight champion.

Prior to making the decision to turn professional, Taylor picked up an extra European and World Championship title just for good measure and featured in another Olympics in 2016.

Unfortunately, she was unable to defend her title at the Rio Games, but her step into the professional world would prove to be more than enough to make up for the quarter-final loss she suffered.

Undefeated and undisputed champion

Just three months after Taylor was snubbed of a semi-final spot at the Olympics, she made her professional debut at Wembley Arena. The Irish star is signed to promotion company Matchroom Boxing.

Her first win as a pro fighter set the foundations for what would become one of the most awe-inspiring careers of a modern day boxer.

It took less than a year for The Bray Bomber to win her first professional title. She fought on the undercard of the 2017 Anthony Joshua vs Carlos Takam fight night, where she became the new WBA lightweight champion.

After her first title win, the dominant performances just kept on coming.

Katie Taylor

Taylor defended her title against Jessica McCaskill before triumphs over Victoria Bustos and Rose Volante in 2018 and 2019 respectively saw her add the IBF and WBO belts to her collection, making her the unified lightweight champion.

Next up, was the winner takes all fight against Belgium’s Delfine Persoon for the four sanctioning body’s titles, plus The Ring belt.

The two lit up Madison Square Garden in a thrilling fight that ended in a majority decision win for Taylor, though controversy circled the result. Many believed Persoon had done enough to snatch the win, but the Irish trailblazer was the woman to walk out of the ring as the new undisputed champion.

Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano Press Conference
Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano Press Conference announcing their undisputed World Lightweight title fight on Saturday April 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York. 7 February 2022 Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing

As of November 2020, Taylor is ranked the world’s best active female lightweight boxer by BoxRec and the best pound-for-pound women’s fighter by The Ring.

In 20 professional fights, Taylor is yet to lose a single match and boasts five titles — all of which will be put on the line against Serrano this month.

She will return to New York to headline Madison Square Garden — a milestone moment for women’s boxing. Will the woman who is regarded as the outstanding Irish athlete of her generation continue her unstoppable form and in doing so, add another gargantuan moment to her legacy?

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