By: Sean Crose
The last time 11-0 IBF and WBA world lightweight women’s champion Katie Taylor stepped inside the ring, it was last fall at Boston’s TD Center. Her opponent? The popular and well regarded Cindy Serrano. Some felt Taylor might have trouble on her hands with Serrano. They felt wrong. Taylor won the bout in such lopsided fashion that the Irishwoman herself even appeared frustrated at Serrano’s lack of ability and/or ambition. This Saturday, Taylor will have an new opponent – and a new venue. For Taylor will be facing off against the 22-0-1 Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden as part of the undercard for the Canelo Alarez- Rocky Fielding super middleweight title throwdown.
Promoter Matchroom Boxing describes Ireland’s Taylor as “an amateur star in the Emerald Isle with an Olympic gold medal added to five World championships and six European golds.” Matchroom adds that Taylor “is hunting unification bouts at 135lbs in 2019, but in unbeaten Finn Wahlstrom, the 32 year old faces the stiffest test of her pro career.” Wahlstrom certainly isn’t any old fighter. Matchroom claims the Helsinki, Finland native “is aiming to become a two-weight World champion…the long-reigning WBC Super-Featherweight champion steps up to Lightweight to achieve that goal on December 15.”
Strangely enough, the two women fought in the amateurs almost fifteen years ago, so there’s a bit of familiarity at play here. “Eva,” says Taylor, “is someone I know very well from our time in the amateurs. I was actually drawn against her in my very first international competition back in 2004 and it seemed like every time I turned up to a major competition after that she was in the draw!.” Taylor clearly respects her undefeated opponent. “She was always a really tough opponent,” says Taylor, “so it’s no surprise that she’s gone on to have a great professional career. I think this fight will really showcase the best that women’s boxing has to offer and I’m really looking forward to it.”
“I have stated for a longest time,” Wahlstrom states, “that I am ready and I want to engage in toughest fights available. This is the ultimate, biggest and toughest fight anywhere and to have it in the legendary Madison Square Garden is a huge honor.” Like Taylor, Wahlstrom remembers the past she has shared with this weekend’s opponent. “I lost to Katie few times in amateur days,” she says, “but I am sure I won her respect anyway. Now in a 10-round pro fight, it will be totally different game with all new avenues to avenge those defeats.”
The fight, which will be aired on the DAZN streaming service – along with the entire card – has the approval of Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn. “This is an amazing opportunity,” he says, “for Katie to fight at MSG. This is by far the toughest fight of her career so far and hugely important moving into 2019.”
“There will,” claims Hearn, “be great Irish support in New York and she (Taylor) adds even more superstar status to this brilliant night of boxing on DAZN.”