Katie Taylor’s reign as undisputed world lightweight champion was never in doubt as she produced a dazzling display to unanimously outpoint Miriam Gutierrez on Saturday.
The Irishwoman retained her WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO belts after battering Gutierrez, whose courageous resistance denied Taylor a stoppage at the SSE Arena in London, England.
After outpointing former WBC champion Delfine Persoon in a rematch last August, this was a lot more comfortable for Taylor in a ninth title defense at lightweight.
Taylor’s hand speed and movement saw her cruise to scores of 100-89, 100-90 and 99-91 in one of her most impressive performances yet.
“I was very satisfied, it was a great performance, she was very tough and kept firing back,” Taylor said. “Unfortunately I just couldn’t get her out of there, I would have loved the stoppage.”
Bigger and tougher fights await Taylor in 2021.
Taylor’s targets include Amanda Serrano (38-1-1, 28 KOs), who she was twice scheduled to meet earlier this year only for the fight to fall through due to reasons around the pandemic, or the winner of the rematch between Jessica McCaskill (9-2, 3 KOs) and Cecilia Braekhus (36-1, 9 KOs). Mixed martial arts stars Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm have also been linked to Taylor.
“There are so many options,” Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn said. “She wants to push the boundaries. There’s no one she wouldn’t fight. We’ve tried for the Serrano fight, there’s the winner of McCaskill-Braekhus, Chantelle Cameron [WBC super lightweight champion] will be undisputed champion in 2021, Natasha Jonas as well.”
Taylor (17-0, 6 KOs), 34, from Bray in Ireland, has spent most of this training in Vernon, Connecticut, after dates with Serrano were cancelled and the hard work produced a brilliant performance.
Gutierrez (13-1, 5 KOs), Taylor’s mandatory challenger for her WBA belt, was left stunned by the ferocity of Taylor’s start.
The Spaniard survived the siege but it was a taster of what was to come for the next nine rounds.
Taylor threatened to overwhelm Gutierrez under a blizzard of punches at the start of the third, and the Spaniard did well to take a big right hand.
The 2012 Olympic gold medallist then slipped a jab and landed a right-left combination to drop Gutierrez for a count at the end of the fourth round.
Gutsy Gutierrez kept going but she could not contain lightening-fast Taylor, who was crowned undisputed world lightweight queen with a disputed majority decision win over Belgium’s Persoon in June 2019.
Gutierrez was caught by hard, clean shots in the eighth but despite the punishment, she was still standing at the end.
“There’s no shortage of fights out there,” Taylor said. “It’s all about legacy. I want to make history and inspire the next generation, people haven’t seen the best of me yet.”
Harper sets up unification fight for 2021
There were two other world title fights on the same bill, and England’s Terri Harper announced she wants to face her rival world junior lightweight champions after a confidence-boosting ninth-round stoppage win over Katharina Thanderz.
Harper (11-0-1, 6 KOs), 24, held on to her WBC world junior lightweight title with a draw against English rival Natasha Jonas three months ago, and felt she had a point to prove in a second title defense against Thanderz.
She delivered, boxing cleanly behind her jab and then forcing the stoppage after a good body shot.
“I was questioning myself,” Harper said. “I hurt my hand in the fourth round so just kept to my jab rather than getting drawn into a fight. I felt more mature in that fight — I had my 24th birthday last week, maybe that had something to do with it.”
One fight in the pipeline for Harper would seem to be against South Korean Hyun Mi Choi (17-0-1, 4 KOs), the WBA champion, in world title unification fight. Choi signed with promoter Matchroom, which also promotes Harper, but new WBO champion Mikaela Mayer is also calling for a fight with Harper.
Mayer (14-0, 5 KOs), from Colorado, United States, outpointed Ewa Brodnicka on Oct. 31 to become world champion after representing the United States at the 2016 Olympics.
“There’s no reason why we can’t have one champion in each division in women’s boxing. We signed Choi last week and Mikaela Mayer wants the fight as well,” Hearn said.
“I want to go on and fight these other champions,” Harper said.
Harper started fast and won the first two rounds behind her long jab, but Thanderz settled later in the second and had some success on the counter.
Norway-born, Spain-based Thanderz (13-1, 2 KOs), 32, was more aggressive in the fourth as Harper was kept on the back foot and had to absorb an uppercut and left hook among other shots.
But Harper re-established some authority in the fifth with her jab and movement, which left Thanderz unable to find the English boxer.
Harper was content to box at range, darting in and out of range to land her jabs, and was well in control when she sealed victory.
Thanderz was unsettled by a clash of heads in the ninth and moments later was hurt by a left to the body, which allowed Harper to pile on the pressure and force the stoppage.
Ball keeps rolling after points win
England’s Rachel Ball kept her career on an upward curve with a comfortable, unanimous points win (99-91 twice and 99-92) over Argentina’s Jorgelina Guanini for the vacant interim WBC junior featherweight world title.
Guanini was a late replacement, stepping in at ten days’ notice after Ebanie Bridges pulled out injured, and struggled to make the weight limit. Guanini had also not boxed since June 2019, when she retained the IBF junior bantamweight title, but she looked sharp early on and landed a series of heavy shots in the third and fourth rounds.
Ball (7-1, 0 KOs), 29, from Walsall, a former kickboxing champion who earned her shot after a points win over Shannon Courtenay in August, responded with a good fifth, utilizing her height and reach advantage and boxing behind the jab.
Ball improved again in the sixth, as she was quicker at getting her punches off and caught Guanini (9-2-2, 1 KO) with a good left hook.
By the eighth, Ball was in control and applied sustained pressure for the remainder of the fight to win by a comfortable margin.
Ball, who lost to Thanderz in March last year, juggles her boxing career with her job as a social worker but bigger nights lie ahead after this significant win and she hopes to fight for the WBA belt next against Australian Bridges.