Boxing | Taylor defeats Linardatou to become two-weight world champion

Katie Taylor has beaten Christine Linardatou by unanimous decision to become a two-weight world champion.

The Bray boxer won the WBO super lightweight title fight by scores of 96-94, 97-93, 97-93 in Manchester to become Ireland’s third two-weight world champion, emulating Steve Collins and Carl Frampton.

“We knew this would be a very tough fight, I boxed smart for a change instead of getting stuck into a fight,” an emotional Taylor said afterwards.

“I’m a two-weight world champion, I want that rematch with Persoon and the Amanda Serrano fight. The Braekhus fight as well can be made.”

Taylor made her way to the ring to the sound of Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ – wearing her trademark black and gold shorts – with the large Irish contingent inside Manchester Arena making themselves heard.

Linardatou stalked forward gamely with ‘Medusa’ emblazoned on her shorts, but Taylor was more than happy to play the role of Perseus.

The Greek was the aggressor in the first round, with Taylor content to keep her distance and find her range.

Taylor’s trademark hand speed and head movement were on display in the second round as the Irish boxer grew into the contest.

Linardatou marched forward relentlessly, but was facing a better boxer in Taylor, who used her jab increasingly well as the fight progressed.

33-year-old Taylor produced some big shots and one-twos in the fourth, but was caught by a powerful body shot late in the round, and ha considerable swelling over her right eye.

The Wicklow native countered a big left hook with a crisp combination in the fifth, and provided most of the eye-catching work in the sixth.

Taylor looked largely comfortable again in the seventh, but appeared to be rocked late in the eighth after some wild shots from Linardatou.

Linardatou’s corner celebrated her apparent success animatedly at the end of the round, but aside from the swelling on her eye, Taylor looked unruffled in her corner.

Taylor was superb in the ninth, with chants of ‘Olรฉ, Olรฉ, Olรฉ’ ringing around the arena. Katie continued to make her opponent miss in the 10th and final round, closing out the bout to make history.

Linardatou – a former kickboxer – was competitive in every round, and willing to absorb plenty of punishment, but it was Taylor’s superior skills which won out in the end.

In 15 professional fights, the former Olympic gold medalist has unified the lightweight division and moved up a weight to win a world title at super lightweight.

“Congrats to a true icon, everyone should be so proud of Katie,” promoter Eddie Hearn said afterwards.

“She’s just an absolute brilliant example of how hard work can get you to the very top.

“She’s turned the sport on itโ€™s head.”

Taylor was fighting on the undercard of Manchester’s Anthony Crolla’s farewell fight against Frank Urquiaga.