Katie Taylor is fond of making history and the Irish World Champion will do so again when she steps into the ring in Manchester this November.
Taylor, now 33, will bid to become a two-weight World Champion, when she meets Christina Linardatou on November 2, headlining a stacked card featuring top talents like Anthony Crolla and Joshua Buatsi. The undefeated champion has earned her spot at the top of the bill at the Manchester Arena, with 14 straight victories as a professional.
Speaking to The Sportsman, down the road from our HQ in Manchester city centre, Katie said: "I am now headlining a huge show and women's boxing has come a long way. Ever since I turned pro I have had the opportunity to be involved in these huge, huge shows and its brought a lot of attention to the sport.
“I have the chance to become a two-weight world champion, which is phenomenal for me, it’s history-making for me. Christina is a fantastic champion, and this is a huge challenge and I can’t wait to show everyone what I’ve been working on over the last few months.
“It’s a new challenge moving up in weight, I’ve worked very hard in the gym to build up. You’ll see the very best of me. l’ll need to be on my game because I think Linardatou is the number one at 140lbs.
“I want to make history in this sport, I want to be the best ever. Professional boxing is made for me, I’ve always dreamt of boxing in front of thousands and thousands of people in these big stadiums.
“I’m going to enjoy it and give it everything I have.
“I’m excited to fight in the UK, I love it, and the support I’ve got has been outstanding, I’m so grateful for that. It’s my first time in the ring as undisputed lightweight champ so it’s going to be a special night.”
And the Irish icon insists that the best is yet to come for women’s boxing.
She said: “We’re still fighting for equal pay but I’m definitely making a lot more money than I thought I would when I started three years ago. So in that respect we’re breaking down walls and barriers.
“It has come a long way in the last few years and the best is yet to come.”
And Katie was able to neatly illustrate just how far the women’s fight game has come as she told The Sportsman how she used to masquerade as a male boxer when she was younger, in order to get competitive rounds.
She said: "When I first started fighting there was no female boxing allowed in Ireland at the time. To get any competition or any fights, I had to put the headgear on and just pretend I was a boy. I was known as 'K. Taylor'.”
After causing an uproar with the local authority, Taylor travelled overseas to pursue her passion and became an internationally recognised amateur champion. Irish female boxing was eventually sanctioned in 2001, allowing the girl from County Wicklow to come home to ply her trade.
The persistent pugilist then took it one step further, becoming an instrumental figure in the legalisation of women's Olympic boxing. After lobbying Irish and Olympic committees, she was invited to Russia and the USA to showcase her skills.
She says: "It was one of the biggest pressure situations of my career. It was always a dream of mine to fight in the Olympic games and to win a gold medal.
"Since I started boxing, I wanted to change people's perception of the sport. I wanted to break down a lot of barriers and a lot of boundaries.
"I was chosen to fight in front of the committee, and I was told before that this fight would determine whether women's boxing would be in the Olympic games, so it was a huge, huge fight. Thankfully it went well, and they were impressed, and now women’s boxing is here to stay in the Olympic Games.”
Her promoter, Matchroom Sports boss Eddie Hearn, believes Taylor's role in magnifying the sport of women's boxing has been huge. Speaking to The Sportsman he said:
“As an amateur and as a pro, she’s been the one that’s broken the mould. She’s been the one that’s inspired that next generation.
“Firstly, introducing women’s boxing to the Olympics, she’s responsible for that.
“Then going and winning five World Championships and Olympic Gold, then unifying and becoming the undisputed Lightweight World Champion and now moving up to try and become a two-weight World Champion, she’s someone who’s inspiring as she’s always trying to push the boundaries.”