By Ciarán Gallagher
Katie Taylor has insisted she is not disappointed by the fact that her first world-title shot will not take place in Ireland, but the Bray woman hopes to book a long-awaited homecoming fight in the new year.
Five-time world amateur champion Taylor aims to claim her first professional crown in Cardiff this weekend when she takes on Argentina’s WBA world lightweight champion Anahi Esther Sanchez.
The fight will take place on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title defence at the Principality Stadium on Saturday night, with a near sell-out crowd of between 70-80,000 expected to be present.
“I suppose, ideally, a title fight in Dublin or Ireland would be perfect really – to get the home crowd behind me as well – but I find it hard to be disappointed because this is my first world-title fight,” said Taylor.
“I’m boxing on the undercard of one of the biggest stars in boxing at the moment. It’s going to be a sell-out stadium and I expect to be high up on the card as well, so I can’t really be disappointed with that.”
While promoter Eddie Hearn had suggested that the former Olympic champion would challenge for a world title in Dublin following her decision to turn professional last year, Taylor’s worldwide profile has been boosted fighting in high-profile undercard slots in the UK and US en route to building a 6-0 paid record.
Hearn and managers Brian Peters have installed the 31-year-old in her third support slot to Joshua, with a view to booking a headline homecoming bout in spring or summer next year.
“I’m just very excited and put on a really good show,” said Taylor. “Hopefully I get the win and I can defend the belt at home in Dublin then,” added the Wicklow woman, who is a heavy betting favourite to defeat Sanchez, despite the fact that the 26-year-old is a two-weight world champion with a 27-2 pro record.
Taylor prepared for her title shot with an 11-week training camp at trainer Ross Enamait’s Connecticut base before flying back to Europe and manager Peters believes his fighter is ready to peak on Saturday night.
“She’s had a good long camp, a great lead-up,” said Peters. “This is a good champion she’s facing and that’s what Katie wanted – a real challenge – because we’ve had difficulty getting opponents.”
Taylor arrived in Cardiff earlier this week and the Bray native will meet Sanchez face to face at today’s final pre-fight press conference where Joshua will also encounter Carlos Takam – a replacement opponent for the injured Kubrat Pulev – for the first time.