Having headlined a show at London’s iconic York Hall, Katie Taylor is primed to participate at another legendary boxing venue.
The Bray native continues in her quest to shine the global spotlight and promote women’s boxing as she steps out at the legendary Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has big plans for Taylor in 2019, who will hope to add at least one more belt to her WBA and IBF straps in the New Year, while also putting a marquee fight in place against the renowned multi-weight champion Amanda Serrano.
"We are trying to get her to fight the WBO champion Rose Volante in the United States in March," said Hearn earlier this week.
"Then hopefully Katie will fight Delfine Persoon for the WBC and undisputed title, before taking on Amanda Serrano and Cecilia Braekhus."
But first of all, the 2012 Olympic champion must take care of business on her MSG debut, as she takes on Finland’s Eva Wahlstrom.
Remarkably, Taylor has nothing of note to gain from Saturday night’s fight, which is part of the impressive undercard of the super-middleweight world title bout between Rocky Fielding and box-office sensation and reigning IBO, WBA and WBC middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez.
👑👑 IBF & WBA World Lightweight Champ @KatieTaylor puts her belts on the line vs old amateur rival, now unbeaten pro Eva Wahlstrom!— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) December 15, 2018
Watch live tonight on @SkySports & @DAZN_USA 🍀 #TaylorWahlstrom #CaneloRocky pic.twitter.com/9exZQJPFHI
But this meeting with familiar foe Wahlstrom is far from a keep-busy fight for Taylor, as her Finnish opponent, well known from her days in the amateur ranks, is a reigning world champion.
Wahlstrom is in the possession of the WBC super-featherweight title, which she has held for over three years, and is unbeaten in 23 fights since turning professional back in 2010.
Taylor turned pro two years ago and secured the world title in just her seventh professional encounter, defeating Argentina’s Anahi Sanchez on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight world title clash with Carlos Takam in October 2017.
The Bray native has since added the IBF title and defended her WBA strap four times, most recently defeating Cindy Serrano – sister of the aforementioned Amanda - in Boston two months ago.
As mentioned, Taylor’s opponent this time around boasts a decent amateur pedigree having secured her national title ten times to sit alongside two European silver medals.
Six years Taylor’s senior, Wahlstrom witnessed, first hand, the arrival of the sensational Bray boxer onto the European and World amateur circuit.
Taylor’s domination of the amateur game began in the 2005 European final in Tonsberg, Norway, where she claimed her first of many international gold medals.
Her opponent that day, was 24-year-old Wahlstrom, who had been hoping to go one better, having secured the silver medal at the 2004 edition.
But Taylor took the title and proceeded to notch up another five European golds, five EU championships and a remarkable five world championship titles, not forgetting the Olympic gold medal won in London 2012, before turning professional following the Rio Games in 2016.
Wahlstrom’s amateur years yielded little in comparison, however, by the time she turned professional in 2010, the Finish fighter had accumulated a wealth of experience in the amateur ranks, which have really allowed her to forge a successful career in the paid ranks.
Eight years on, Wahlstrom is putting her unbeaten record on the line as she looks to cause a shock by coming up in weight to take on the formidable Taylor.
Wahlstrom is also stepping out of her comfort zone to take the fight as it is the first time that the now 38-year-old will fight outside her native Finland.
Taylor, by contrast, has yet to fight as a professional in Ireland and has been switching between Britain and the USA, as she keeps the profile on women’s boxing in her quest to unify the lightweight division.
Wahlstrom is regarded as a powerful hitter and is perhaps the best technical boxer that Taylor will have faced throughout her fledgling professional career, however, the Finnish fighter’s best chance of causing a shock will be attempting to take the fight through the ten rounds, frustrating Taylor, while impressing the judges with a front-foot performance.
A tough task in what should, in reality, be a relatively facile defence for Taylor who will also be looking to put on a performance on such a high-profile card at the New York venue.
"I know Eva from the amateur days and we met on many occasions," Taylor said at the pre-fight press conference at Madison Square Garden.
"She is a great competitor and a fantastic fighter. We are both here to win on Saturday evening, so somebody's '0' has got to go as they say. I can't wait for what is going to be an exciting fight."
Taylor has yet to be matched in terms of technique and intensity throughout her eleven fights in the paid ranks, yet there have been moments, albeit fleeting ones, where the 32-year-old has been troubled, getting drawn into a needless brawl at times.
In her last five fights, Taylor has only stopped one of her opponents, Kimberly Connor, and the Connecticut-based fighter will, no doubt, be looking for a knock-out performance against her European opponent.
Scheduled for ten, two-minute rounds, it is perhaps, a tougher format to secure the stoppage due to the shorter stanzas.
But expect Taylor to dominate from start to finish to secure the victory, whether in ten rounds or two, and both Taylor and the women’s sport, in general, move into 2019 in rude health.