Katie Taylor arrives in London to defend her Undisputed Lightweight titles, with her WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO straps all on offer over ten two minute rounds against WBA interim ruler Miriam Gutierrez on Saturday night at The SSE Arena, Wembley on all Sky Sports platforms and DAZN in the USA.
Taylor (16-0, 6 KOs) needs little introduction, as one of the pioneers for women’s boxing. A five-time world champion as an amateur, Taylor also captured Gold in the 2012 Olympics in London, and turned professional following a shock quarter-final exit at the 2016 games in Rio.
In just her seventh fight, she thrashed Anahi Ester Sanchez on the cards to win the vacant WBA Lightweight title, and after one defence, Taylor added the IBF crown with a wide win over Victoria Noelia Bustos in April 2018.
Three defences of the unified titles then saw the Irish great add the WBA belt with a ninth round stoppage of Rose Volante in March 2019 and less than three months later, she was chief support at Madison Square Garden ahead of Anthony Joshua’s ill-fated meeting with Andy Ruiz Jr.
Taylor could have easily suffered the same fate, as she went ten gruelling rounds with Belgian, Delfine Persoon, getting a majority nod, with the general consensus feeling she had lost.
The 34-year-old shrugged the doubt off in November 2019, and became a two weight world champion by outscoring Christina Linardatou to become WBO Super Lightweight queen.
The clamour for a Persoon rematch was gathering momentum, but Taylor agreed to defend her Lightweight titles against Amanda Serrano in May 2020.
With the Pandemic taking hold, and negotiations reaching a stalemate, in stepped Persoon at Matchroom Headquarters for the eagerly-awaited rematch. It was just as tough for Taylor as the first encounter, the result remained the same, however with Taylor taking a tight unanimous win.
Now, Taylor faces an unknown quantity in Miriam Gutierrez, a 37-year-old who has never ventured outside of her native Spain.
Gutierrez (13-0, 5 KOs) won the vacant European title in March last year with a wide points win over Leeds’ Sam ‘SJ’ Smith, and, after two wins followed, she contested the interim WBA title against Venezuela’s Keren Batiz.
Batiz was deducted two points during the fight, and then dropped Gutierrez in the final frame before losing on the cards to the Spaniard.
Prediction: Taylor will be eager to show that the Persoon fights haven’t taken anything away from her brilliance, and Gutierrez could prove the perfect opposition to demonstrate that.
The Spaniard was floored against a 6-1-1 fighter last time out, and tires down the stretch, so I can see Taylor notching her first inside schedule win March 2019 and she can halt Gutierrez late on.
Harper defends title against Thanderz
Another fighter keen to impress is Denaby’s Terri Harper and she looks to make a statement after a blemish in her last contest when she defends her WBC and IBO Super Featherweight titles in a tough looking assignment against Spain-based Norwegian, Katharina Thanderz.
The 24-year-old was making serene progress until running into Natasha Jonas in her last fight back in August.
Harper (10-0-1, 5 KOs) had won the IBO belt in her eighth fight, stopping Nozipho Bell in eight in July 2019, and added the famous WBC crown in February 2020, defeating Eva Wahlstrom on the scorecard in a lively affair.
‘Belter’ Harper’s maiden defence of the green belt was supposed to be a new versus old type match, with 36-year-old Jonas not expecting to cause too many problems, but the Liverpudlian gave Harper all she could handle, and had a strong case for taking the win, but the contest was scored a split draw.
Harper now aims to learn from that performance, but it could be a tough nights’ work against Thanderz.
A former European champion, Thanderz (13-0, 2 KOs) also holds a majority win over eight against Rachel Ball, who features on this bill. ‘Katy’ became interim WBC boss in her last fight, returning to her native Oslo to take a split decision win against Danila Ramos.
Prediction: Harper will have learnt a lot more from the Jonas draw than any other of her contests, and she will look to be less embroiled that she was against Natasha.
If Terri can stick to her slick boxing skills, she can frustrate Thanderz into making mistakes, and build a lead. I favour Harper to take the fight on the scorecards.
Ball fights for vacant crown against Guanini
Completing the hat trick of title fights comes a vacant WBA Bantamweight title bout.
Aldridge’s all-action, Rachel Ball was due to meet Ebanie Bridges, but the Aussie suffered an injury in training, so in steps Argentina’s Jorgelina Guanini (9-1-2, KO1) to contest the belt.
Ball (6-1) is relentless in her approach, and took full advantage of an opportunity given to her by Eddie Hearn in August, when she dropped the highly touted Shannon Courtenay in the opening round, and then took a deserved eight round points win.
Her sole loss came against the aforementioned Thanderz in Norway in March 2019.
Guanini (9-1-2, 1 KO) could well prove to be a tougher opponent than Bridges, and the South American moves up from Super Flyweight, where she still holds the IBF world title.
The 28-year-old hasn’t boxed since June last year though, when she held onto her belt with a majority draw against Micaela Lujan.
Prediction: Ball is finally getting the recognition she deserves, and has a dream title chance here. Her swarming style will be hot to handle for Guanini, and I think she can take a clear points win here.
A ten rounder at Super Middleweight could steal the show. ‘Little Lever’s Mear Cleaver’ Jack Cullen was scheduled to face the returning Jamie Cox, but the Swindon man suffered a cut in training.
Just as big a test awaits Cullen (18-2-1, 9 KOs) now, as Montrose’s John Docherty is the replacement.
🗣️ “You’ll see a big Super Middleweight demolish Jack Cullen”
🗣️ “I should be stopping him. I’m getting the win”
— ProBoxingFans (@ProBoxingFans) November 10, 2020
Cullen was last seen holding Zak Chelli to a draw in September, while Docherty (9-0, 7 KOs) has yet to go past seven, the number of rounds he stopped the tough Anthony Fox in back in August.
Prediction: ’The Doc’ is a special talent, and he can take a clear points win here.
Kash Farooq (13-1, 6 KOs) attempts to make it third time lucky in making his Matchroom debut, and he is scheduled to face Angel Avila (20-5-1, 6 KOs) over ten at Bantamweight.
Prediction: Avila has only been stopped once in five defeats, and that was in his second paid contest after a four-and-a-half-year absence in 2012.
Farooq has seen two previous fight dates postponed, so may have overtrained slightly, and after a year out of the ring, he will benefit from rounds. Farooq should take a comfortable decision win.
Liverpool Light Heavyweight, Thomas Whittaker-Hart (4-0, 2 KOs) takes on Bradford’s Jermaine Springer (7-1, 1 KO).
Prediction: Springer’s sole defeat came against the heavy-handed Boris Creighton in two in September last year. Whittaker-Hart can also score an inside distance win here by the halfway mark.