Katie Taylor captured a world title at a second weight division with a unanimous points win over Christina Linardatou on Saturday, but she finished the fight with her right eye nearly swollen shut.
The Irishwoman made a successful debut at super lightweight, beating Greece’s Linardatou 96-94, 97-93, 97-93 for the WBO title at Manchester Arena.
Taylor was too slick and picked off Linardatou with her boxing on the back foot, and check left hooks, which ensured she controlled most of the rounds.
“We knew this girl would be very tough — she was the best in the division — but I boxed beautifully on the outside instead of getting stuck in on the inside for a change,” Taylor said.
Taylor (15-0, 6 KOs), 33, perhaps the biggest name in boxing after winning gold at the 2012 Olympics and now nine world title fights, has a few options for bigger nights ahead of her.
Many fight fans would like to see her face Belgium’s Delfine Persoon again after she won their desperately close encounter on a majority decision at New York’s Madison Square Garden in June.
That win earned Taylor a fourth world title, making her the undisputed world lightweight champion, and this was her first fight since moving up to super lightweight.
Other possibilities could be Puerto Rico’s Brooklyn-based Amanda Serrano, a seven-weight world champion who most recently at featherweight, and Cecilia Braekhus, the 38-year-old Norwegian who is the undisputed world welterweight champion.
“I can’t wait to get back to Persoon, and there’s a huge, huge fight with Serrano,” Taylor said.
Taylor also said she was willing to face Braekhus.
Linardatou (12-2, 6 KOs), 31, who was born in the Dominican Republic, was a tough opponent, and her only loss had been on points to Persoon. This was her second defense of the WBO belt.
And the champion started aggressively, keeping Taylor on the back foot until the Irishwoman landed two stiff rights on the bell.
Taylor, who is from Bray and trains in Connecticut, showed more in the second round and made Linardatou miss while she scored with smart boxing.
Taylor refused to be drawn into a brawl, and she kept working her jab and repeatedly caught Linardatou with left hooks throughout.
Linardatou landed some big rights in the fourth and fifth rounds, leaving Taylor with a mouse above her right eye. The swelling did not hamper Taylor much and in the sixth round the Irishwoman moved well and caught Linardatou with quick shots.
There was great action in the eighth, the best round of the fight, when Taylor let go with a hard combination and was then caught by a right from Linardatou to stop her in her tracks. Taylor was rebuked by her corner for taking too many shots after the fierce eighth round and she finished the fight boxing sensibly in retreat.