Boxing

Taylor not overlooking Han in Leeds

Taylor moved her record to 18-0 with a unanimous points win over Natasha Jonas in May

Undisputed lightweight world champion Katie Taylor insists she is not looking beyond Jennifer Han as she prepares to face the IBF mandatory challenger in her “second home” Leeds on Saturday.

Taylor, whose father was brought up in the Yorkshire city, is anticipating a raucous atmosphere with over 20,000 fans expected at Headingley.

It will be her first fight in front of a capacity crowd in nearly two years.

“This has been a long time coming,” Taylor said.

“The atmosphere’s going to be electric. I have a soft heart towards Leeds and it’s going to be amazing to fight here.

“I’ve great memories of coming here as a kid, visiting this city and going to Elland Road for Leeds United games, they’re some of my best memories. To have a chance to actually fight here is really special.”

The contest is the chief support bout on Saturday’s card, headlined by Josh Warrington’s rematch with Mauricio Lara following the Mexican’s sensational victory in February.

Katie Taylor with her lightweight belts
Taylor has held all the lightweight belts since June 2019

Undefeated in 18 professional bouts, Taylor is strong favourite against former featherweight world champion Han, who has referred to Saturday’s contest as the biggest of her career.

A former six-time national amateur champion, Han earned her shot at Taylor’s IBF belt having gone undefeated in her last eight fights, a run stretching back to 2014.

“She’s a very good fighter, a very technical fighter. She had a good amateur career as well,” said Taylor.

“I don’t tend to watch a lot of my opponents to be honest. I leave that stuff up to my coach and watch a few clips every now and then [but] I know that she’s technically very good.

“I think she’s going to bring her A-game on Saturday night, that’s usually the case when they step into the ring against myself so I’m expecting a very tough fight.”

‘Ball in Serrano’s court’ over potential fight

If Taylor succeeds in defending her belts on Saturday, conversations over high-profile unification bouts against seven-weight world champion Amanda Serrano or undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill are likely to resurface.

Taylor, who is open to fighting in the USA before the end of the year, was set to meet Serrano in May 2020 before the bout was suspended due to the pandemic.

The pair’s camps then opened talks for a potential fight two months later, but could not agree personal terms with Taylor facing Delfine Persoon in a rematch instead and promoter Eddie Hearn saying the Serrano fight was unlikely to happen in the near future.

Amanda Serrano
Serrano retained her WBC and WBO featherweight belts against Yamileth Mercado on Sunday

Puerto Rican Serrano successfully defended her two featherweight belts last Sunday before expressing her desire to “definitely” meet Taylor.

“I don’t know when that fight is going to be made,” Taylor said in response.

“The fight hasn’t happened not because of me, I obviously want the big names and the big fights so I guess the ball is in her court.

“I have a great team of people around me and their responsibility is to make those fights happen, I’m just here to focus on my fights and my training.

“Thankfully I’ve been involved in some of the biggest fights in women’s boxing and I don’t think we’ve ever ducked any opponent.

“You have all seen who I’ve fought in the past. We want the big fights, the history making fights and I think me and my team have done a great job of that.”

Taylor will hope to fight again before the end of the year, having already fought once in May, defending her belts with a points win in an entertaining contest with Natasha Jonas.

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