Ireland’s Katie Taylor retained her IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO world lightweight titles with a comprehensive points win against Karen Elizabeth Carabajal.
Taylor, 36, was fighting for the first time since her split decision win over Puerto Rico’s Amanda Serrano in April – the first women’s bout to headline New York’s Madison Square Garden.
But this was a more routine defence against her brave Argentine opponent.
The fight went the distance, but Taylor got the victory 100-91, 99-91, 98-92.
“She had everything to gain, I think I boxed smartly, I was a bit open at times but just happy to get the victory,” said Taylor, who hoped her next fight would be in Dublin – for what would be her first professional bout in her home country.
‘We can create a night of boxing Ireland will never forget’
Taylor won Olympic gold in 2012 and is now unbeaten in all 22 professional fights, 14 of which have been in England, with one in Wales and seven in the United States but none in Ireland yet in her trailblazing career.
“Amanda Serrano, do you want the fight at Croke Park with 80,000 people? It would be the biggest event in women’s boxing history,” Taylor said.
“It’s a very easy fight to make and I’m happy to wait a few months for the biggest fight of my career – it would be a dream for me.”
To huge cheers from the fans, promoter Eddie Hearn added: “It is time to return to Ireland now.
“Whoever it is, wherever it is, Ireland has to be next. The Irish fans are incredible, they have travelled everywhere and it’s time to give Ireland a sporting event they will never forget.
“We hope it’s Amanda Serrano but it does not matter who it is, it has to be Ireland. We can create a night of boxing Ireland will never forget and no-one deserves it more than Katie Taylor.
“Six years ago we were here and people were laughing at us. Katie Taylor has been treading paths for others to come down. She is a legend in this sport.”
How the Carabajal fight unfolded
Carabajal, a former national and South American champion, was fighting outside of Argentina for the first time and the 32-year-old came to London with a record of 19 wins from 19 bouts, although only two of those victories had been inside the distance.
She talked up her chances of causing a shock win and taking the belts back to Argentina with her but Taylor, cheered on by a raucous and passionate crowd in London, quickly stamped her authority on the fight.
Taylor was backed by the bookmakers at odds of 1-25 before the contest started and immediately showed her class, speed and power, taking the centre of the ring as Carabajal was caught by jabs and struggled to land anything meaningful in the first of the 10 two-minute rounds.
The Argentine made an attacking start at the beginning of the second, but as the round went on found herself being picked off by overhand lefts and rights, a pattern that continued in the third with the superior movement from Taylor making her hard to hit.
In the fourth, Taylor had Carabajal pinned in the corner, with the pair furiously trading blows and the Argentine doing excellently to escape what had looked a difficult moment.
Carabajal, cut underneath her right eye in the fifth, was brave, attacking and fully committed but was starting to take some punishment as Taylor pushed for what would have been her first win inside the distance in nine bouts.
An impressive overhand left from Taylor landed in the seventh, but, knowing she had banked the earlier rounds, she was happy to wait and not take any unnecessary risks.
Carabajal, cut again around her right eye, had shown great character to still be in there for the final round and pushed for a huge upset, but Taylor stayed out of danger before the judges confirmed the win.
She was back at the scene of her professional debut – in which she had stopped Poland’s Karina Szmalenberg in the third round at Wembley Arena back in November 2016 – and what a journey it has been for Taylor since then.
This was her 16th successive world title fight and she is a two-weight world champion, having moved up a weight – winning a WBO belt at light-welterweight in 2019 – before returning to lightweight.
And now with a potential fight at Croke Park to come next summer, another huge night for Katie Taylor – and women’s boxing – is just around the corner.
Undercard – Gill loses European belt; Scotney wins European title
Jordan Gill lost his European featherweight belt, beaten by former two-weight world champion Kiko Martinez in a fight that also doubled up as an eliminator for Josh Warrington’s IBF world title.
Martinez lost to Warrington in March, despite breaking the Englishman’s jaw before being stopped in the seventh.
Gill, from Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, quickly experienced the Spaniard’s power as he got caught repeatedly in the second round, sustaining a cut and bleeding from his nose.
Things quickly got worse for Gill as he was knocked down twice in the third, suffered a bad cut around his eye and was then floored a further two times in the fourth before his corner ended the fight.
Warrington defends his IBF belt against Mexico’s Luis Alberto Lopez in Leeds on 10 December, with Martinez in line to fight the winner, while Nottingham’s WBA champion Leigh Wood could be another potential opponent.
Londoner Ellie Scotney became the European super-bantamweight champion in only her sixth fight as a professional, beating reigning champion Mary Romero of Spain.
Scotney dominated the ninth of the 10 rounds as she looked to claim what would have been the first knockout as a professional, but instead won it on a unanimous decision – 97-93, 97-94 and 96-94.
Irish lightweight Gary Cully needed only 35 seconds to beat Jaouad Belmehdi and claim his 15th win from 15 fights.
Cully knocked the previously unbeaten Frenchman down early on with a brutal left hook and Belmehdi beat the count, but then wobbled into the ropes and the referee stopped the contest.
“I think this is going to be a future world champion for Ireland,” Hearn said of Cully.
Romford heavyweight Johnny Fisher extended his unbeaten record to 7-0 thanks to a first-round demolition of Czech fighter Dominik Musil, who was knocked down twice before the fight was stopped.
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