Jennifer Han is a professional prizefighter, at a world class level. She’ll seek to hand pound for pound ace Katie Taylor her first loss as a pro on Saturday, and while it’s a massively tall order, it’s possible that she’ll enjoy a catalyst that might give her a better shot at beating the Irish talent than many assume.
Han, you see, is a mother to two little ones, so we think it’s possible that the 38 year old Texas native takes to the ring in Leeds, England spurred on by the thought of showing her little ones that they, too, can do hard things.
OK, one of the little ones would have to be taking in the spectacle later, on video, because the 5-6 Han birthed the infant six months ago. Bryan is 2.5, and Nolan is the second son for the 18-3-1 fighter who reps El Paso.
Let’s keep it real, and admit that pulling an upset on the 35 year old Taylor (18-0 with 6 KOs), holder of the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring Magazine straps, is unlikely.
Han has succeeded at featherweight, she won a vacant crown in 2015, beating Helen Joseph, and made four defenses. But in 2018 she fought once, 2019 not at all, she gloved up once in 2020..and hasn’t fought since February 2020.
One couldn’t expect her to be sharp, and all the more so since she’ll carve down to lightweight after getting over 200 pounds while Nolan waited in her womb. Jumping up in weight, after trimming down from heavyweight..with just one KO to her credit. It’s a tall order…But it means, really, Han has already won, just getting to this place of opportunity. And stranger things have happened than seeing a mother-fighter catalyzed by a fierce desire to show her offspring that Han underdogs don’t bite off more than they can chew snag a surprise win.
You can see how it plays out, from Emerald Headingley Stadium in Leeds on Saturday September 4, live on DAZN.
“I’ve been a road warrior, I know how it is, the odds are stacked against me, she’s the hometown girl – I get it,” Han told media when asked about her chances to get the W. “When I went to Korea, I felt I dominated the fight and the decision was taken away from me, so this time I have to not only dominate but be in command of every single round or go for the KO.
“This is huge, it’s the biggest fight of my life and you can’t get bigger than Katie Taylor,” Han continued. “I’m going to be fighting for all her belts, this is the greatest opportunity that God has blessed me with, I’ve worked my whole life for this, and I am ready. After I fought last year, I was meant to defend my title again versus the interim champion, but she lost, and the new champion wasn’t ready to fight yet. The IBF granted me the opportunity to fight Jeri Sitzes (in 2020), and then they made me the number one contender at lightweight so I could fight Katie – but then COVID got in the way and crushed those dreams. Americans weren’t allowed to go over to the UK, so the fight was shelved, there was nothing out there for me, so I had baby number two. I kept my number one spot but I didn’t think that the opportunity would come around so soon. But it has, you must be prepared for this, and I am, it’s great and I have trained so hard for this and it’s going to be so worth it.”
Han explained why she hasn’t been that active of late. “I was IBF champion for five years, but I was only fighting once a year because I couldn’t get the big fights. I can’t pause my life, I don’t have that luxury, so I had my baby, I’m very lucky and happy. I am in great shape, and I want to fight the best of the best, and that’s what I am doing on Saturday.”
No, Jennifer hasn’t chosen to try and degrade Taylors’ strengths, to boost her own confidence. “She has amazing strengths, an Olympic gold medalist, undisputed world champion, she’s beaten a lot of talented fighters, but they are not the same as me,” Han said. “And I think what I bring to the table she hasn’t seen before so I hope that I surprise her with my technique.”
Part of what she brings to the table is a fighting spirit encouraged by her dad, Master Bae Hyun Han. He worked with his children, the twins Stephanie and Heather, Israel, and 26-4-1 pro Abraham since they were children, communicating the essence of Tae Kwon Do.
“I hope Katie underestimates me and takes into consideration all the things that are stacked up against me. I hope she hasn’t trained hard, she’s taken me for granted, that’d be sweeter for me. I was hoping to just be on TV and become a two-weight world champion, but this is the biggest platform possible for me. I’m not going to take anything away from her, but she’s beatable. Believe me, my camp and I are studying her inside and out. We have plenty of strategies.”
Topping the card, Mauricio Lara (23-2, 16 KOs) meets Josh Warrington (30-1, 7 KOs) again, with Warrington seeking to avenge the Feb. 13 TKO loss to Lara.
Conor Benn (18-0, 12 KOs) battles Adrian Granados (21-8-3, 15 KOs) and Australian attraction Ebanie Bridges (6-1, 3 KOs) will tussle with Mailys Gangloff (5-2, 2 KOs).