The Irish boxer won by unanimous decision, 98-93 on one card and 96-94 on two of the judges’ cards
Katie Taylor risked all the world lightweight belts and The Ring Magazine title in a second thrilling encounter with Belgian Delfine Persoon last night at ‘Matchroom Square Garden’ with the sole purpose of “proving beyond any doubt” that the undefeated, undisputed champion is the queen of the 135lbs division.
The gallant Irish boxer did it with aplomb, winning by unanimous decision 98-93, and 96-94 on two of the judges’ cards in another fight replete with non-stop action. In this rarified atmosphere ringside, your correspondent scored it by two points to Taylor.
Ireland’s unbeaten champion had no hesitation in the rematch as one of the blockbuster fights at Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp pay-per-view event, behind closed doors, the most significant card to take place since the sport ground to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. For these two ultra-competitive female fighters, it was in many ways a similar battle to their first meeting in June 2019, a thrilling, brutal 10-round war itself, in which Taylor clung onto her belts claiming the bout by majority decision as the judges scored it 96-94 twice and 95-95 after a contest in which neither of the protagonists took a backward step.
This was as breathtaking as that night, and Taylor had told Telegraph Sport this week that she was “looking for a career best performance” against the toughest opponent she has faced.
The challenge for Taylor’s WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring Magazine lightweight world titles was just as punishing from Persoon this time, as she went bullying for victory. However, with smarter counsel, Taylor was more matador than simply locking horns against the bullish Belgian policewoman in rounds ten to twenty between them.
The undisputed world lightweight champion was smarter from the off here, using her footwork, jab, and left hook effectively as Persoon attempted to apply pressure from the very first bell. Taylor made Persoon miss time and again early, countering smartly as Persoon fell in, even clumsily at times. The problem for Taylor was that even her heaviest counters barely put a dent in her rival, and although the better boxer, it was Persoon imposed herself physically in rounds four and five. As the fight wore on, Persoon raged forward relentlessly, Taylor, shipping a big right hand in the sixth, was suddenly back into a fight in a phone box, similar to the encounter they had had in New York last June.
“Straight one, two down the pipe,” yelled promoter Eddie Hearn audibly. “Brilliant brilliant,” bellowed the voice of Bridget, Taylor’s mother. Taylor was back in the ninth, boxing smartly, and in the tenth, both women gave their all. It was a second brutal, brilliant bout, but this time, Persoon did not remonstrate as she had in New York.
Earlier, Zak Chelli appeared unfortunate not to be awarded a victory over Jack Cullen in a 10-round super middleweight bout which was scored a split draw by the judges. In the opening bout of the five-fight card, judge Mark Lyson scored it 97-93 to Chelli, Victor Loughlin went for Cullen by 96-95, and Ian John-Lewis scored it a draw, 95-95.
Luther Clay had his WBO Global welterweight title ripped from him by undefeated Chris Kongo. The challenger had Clay hurt in the fifth round, and then in the ninth as the defending champion was dropped and unable to continue.
Hearn’s Fight Camp series has been a riveting success, visually and in terms of the quality of the contests.
Hearn told Telegraph Sport on Saturday night: “I spend a lifetime blowing me own trumpet, but I don’t see a better initiative in live sport than what we have done with Fight Camp. It was an achievement to come back, and it has taught us so much. I think it’s been a huge success. The plan was to extend it for a month. But I’ve decided the brand is built to a level that is strong that when we come back I want to come back with incredible improvements. That’s the lot, grass needs to be re-turfed and we need to move onto the next phase. Which is to start bringing people back to fights.”