Katie Taylor at the weigh-in last Friday.
By Jay Mwamba
It was more emphatic this time. Boxing superbly in Essex, England, last Saturday, Katie Taylor defeated Delfine Persoon for the second time in 14 months to remain undisputed women’s world lightweight champion.
The Bray star, a controversial majority decision winner over the relentless Belgian in an all-out war at Madison Square Garden last summer, left little doubt over the outcome in a rematch that was no less brutal. She swept the 10-rounder by scores of 96-94 [twice] and a rather generous 98-93. There were no knockdowns.
“It’s never going to be an easy fight against Delfine,” conceded Taylor, after upping her unbeaten record to 16-0 [4 KOs]. “I knew I had to dig deep at some stage during the fight but I thought I boxed a lot better than last time. I still could’ve boxed a bit more.”
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Persoon, whom several pundits, including former world champions Carl Frampton and Carl Froch, believed had received a raw deal in New York, had no qualms with the result this time.
“Yes, this time I respect the result — I’ve got no problem with this decision,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I had enough power to hurt her this time. And if you don’t hurt her, it’s technical — she’s good at moving around. You have to hurt her otherwise she gets away.”
The Belgian, who’d lost the WBC title to Taylor in New York, brought the thunder from the first bell – hoping to pick up where she’d left off in the Big Apple.
But Taylor was in boxing mode early, working behind a good left jab and catching her bigger foe coming in with cleaner, sharper blows. Movement was also part of the Taylor fight plan to keep the voluminous punching Persoon off balance.
It worked well enough to secure Taylor the early rounds in the face of Persoon’s persistent onslaught. But there were moments when Taylor stopped jabbing and moving and got dragged into a slugfest. Such was the case in the sixth stanza when Persoon mauled Taylor to win the round comfortably.
Taylor would have to rely as much on her heart as her skills in the remaining four rounds as Person continued to reprise her high-octane New York performance. The champion ate a lot of leather in the eighth.
They went toe-to-toe in the final round with Persoon, face cut and marked up, aware that she needed a win to pull out a win with the WBC, WBO, IBF and WBA belts on the line. There was none of the suspense from 14 months earlier when the contest went to the cards.
Taylor felt that she’d silenced her critics from the first fight. “Yeah, I think it was a lot more convincing even though it was a tough fight. But as I said, it’s always going to be a tough fight against someone like that and you’re going to have to dig deep and show a lot of heart at some stage during the fight. But I think I did that well, I boxed well.”
Persoon’s record dropped to 44-3 with 18 KOs.