Coming off her thrilling, but notably taxing, split decision victory over Amanda Serrano (still my vote for fight of the year) at April’s end, Irish icon Katie Taylor (22-0, 6 KOs) returned to the ring in Wembley Stadium to defend her undisputed lightweight title against undefeated Argentinian challenger Karen Elizabeth Carabajal (19-1, 2 KOs). Taylor thoroughly outclassed Carabajal with superior foot and hand speed throughout in winning an easy, should have been a shutout (one judge found a round for Carabajal, and another inexplicably found two rounds for the challenger) unanimous decision.
Carabajal was game and busy, but she was no match for Taylor's Superior boxing skills and acumen. While Taylor bloodied Carabajal over the right eye in the ninth in coasting to victory, there was no definitive moment in the fight, just a methodical and relatively easy performance by the champion. Carabajal was certainly game, but simply lacked the skill and power to bother Taylor in any measurable way.
At the age of 36, and in her 16th title defense, it’s completely rational to ponder how much longer Taylor can do this. The other question in play was how would Taylor look after being buzzed by the power of Serrano less than six months prior. The truth is, Taylor looked great, but you have to take into account the quality of her opponent. Carabajal’s gaudy record has largely been built up on substandard competition. So, while Taylor was indeed fighting an undefeated boxer, it’s fair to note that there are levels to this shit. And Carabajal is on a notably lower one than Taylor. In building her 19-0 record, Carabajal has done so against fighters “sporting” a risible 83-100-28 record at the time of her bouts, most of which were fought in the super featherweight division.
In the post fight interview, Taylor was more than open to rematching Amanda Serrano in Dublin at Croke Park in Taylor’s native Ireland. Eddie Hearn mitigated that notion slightly by saying no matter who the opponent, Taylor’s next fight would take place in Ireland – a truly daunting proposition for anyone who might want to take Taylor on. If ever there was a fear of “home cooking” it would be in a bout against Taylor in her home country. It’s hard to imagine that if Taylor ends the fight on her feet, that she wouldn’t be awarded a decision. That being said, at age 36, and after all she has accomplished, if any fighter has ever deserved a possible send off in the land of their birth, it’s Taylor.
I know Claressa Shields is quick to proclaim her status as the GOAT in her profession, but, as great as Shields is (and she’s pretty damn great), I would argue that on balance, it’s Katie Taylor who should hold that title in the world of women’s boxing. That’s not to say that Shields couldn't one day surpass Taylor, but that day has not come yet. Until then, the pride of Ireland prevails until further notice.
In the co-headliner former IBF featherweight and super bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez from Spain (44-11-2, 31 KOs) made, at the age of 36, what might be his last stand against Brit Jordan Gill (27-2-1, 8 KOs). After a “feel it out” first round, Martinez took control in the second and then scored two knockdowns in the first and last minute of round three.
Martinez knocked down Gill again with a precision right hand in the fourth, and then with a left hook in the last minute of the round, leading the referee to call the fight at that point. In winning the European featherweight championship (and a title bout eliminator), Martinez may well have set himself up for one last title shot and sizable payday. On a day that youth wanted to be served (Gill is 28), the old man ate off his opponent’s plate and breathed new life into his career.
In other matches
Light heavyweight prospect Thomas Whitaker Hart (7-1, 3 KOs) suffered his first loss as a professional against opponent Mickey Ellison (14-4, 5 KOs), losing by decision in a ten-rounder.
In a battle of undefeated lightweight prospects, Irishman Gary Cully (15-0, 9 KOs) barely broke a sweat in defeating Jaouad Belmehdi (16-1-3, 7 KOs) by a one-punch first round TKO with a stiff straight left hand at the 35 second mark.
Brit Ellie Scotney (6-0, 0 KOs) took on Spaniard Mary Romero (8-3, 2 KOs) in a super bantamweight tilt, and scored a unanimous decision victory.
Undefeated British heavyweight Johnny Fisher (7-0, 6 KOs) defeated Dominik Musil (7-5, 5 KOs) by TKO just after the two minute point of round one. Fisher knocked down Musil twice and had the clear upperhand when the referee called the stoppage.
In her professional debut, Maisey Rose Courtney won a clear four-round unanimous decision over Judith Hachbold (5-18, 1 KO) in a four round bout.