Who is the ‘greatest woman of all time’?
Claressa Shields is at the forefront of the debate. Not only has she won two Olympic gold medals, she is a multi-weight professional titlist and three-time undisputed champion.
But Ireland’s Katie Taylor is another legendary champion. She won the Olympic Games at London 2012 as an amateur, was also an astonishing five-time World gold medallist and has defended the undisputed lightweight championship six times, as well as moving up to super-lightweight to win a WBO belt.
Taylor, herself, will leave it to others to discuss who the ‘GWOAT,’ the greatest woman of all time, is.
“I don’t know who the GWOAT is. I think lots of women can be in that conversation really. But I’m doing my thing, [Shields] is doing her thing and it’s great that both of us are making such a big impact on the boxing world,” Taylor told Sky Sports News.
“She’s a phenomenal fighter and her speed, her class in the ring, her IQ is brilliant to watch. I’d watch that kind of boxing all day. It’s great just to be involved in the conversation about who the GWOAT is.”
For Taylor it’s highly significant that the best fight of the year so far has been either her clash with Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden or the epic showdown between Shields and Savannah Marshall.
“I think the women are taking the big risks in their careers as well. The best are fighting the best. It’s champion versus champion and that’s exactly what you want to see in boxing,” Taylor said.
“The two ‘fight of the year’ contenders are myself and Serrano and Claressa versus Savannah. That in itself says it all. Women’s boxing is at an all-time high right now and it’s great to be a part of it.
“I wanted to bring professional boxing to a new level and how you do it is being involved in these big, mega-fights, being involved in fights that people are actually interested in seeing. The likes of the Natasha Jonas, [Delfine] Persoon, Amanda Serrano fights, you’ve seen Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall, these kind of fights actually elevate the sport,” she continued.
“Those fights are legacy fights really. It’s those kind of fights that people are watching. It’s absolutely incredible. I’ve seen the numbers for Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall, two million viewers and for myself and Serrano, I think it was 1.5 million viewers. That in itself is an incredible feat. When you’re involved in fights that people are actually interested in, that’s exactly what elevates the sport.”
It’s a mark of the progress that’s been made in women’s boxing. “I don’t think that we would have thought that these nights would have happened 10 years ago. It’s amazing that this actually happened. The biggest names right now in professional boxing maybe are female fighters, which is in itself incredible,” Taylor said.
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“It was genuinely a history-making event. The best part about it is those kind of nights are going to inspire these young girls. It could be the first time these young girls are watching boxing. It’s because of those nights that these girls are going to put on a pair of gloves for the first time. It’s the start of an amazing journey.”
Taylor has been in the inspiration business for some time. She paved the way for Irish amateur boxing and her country’s national team is currently excelling. Olympic champion Kellie Harrington, World gold medallist Amy Broadhurst and Olympian Aoife O’Rourke all won gold medals at the recent amateur European championships that saw Ireland bring home seven medals in total.
“It’s amazing, I think the women’s national team, the amateur team is probably the most dominant team in the world right now. We’re coming back from competitions consistently with medals, European championships, World championships and Olympic Games. I’m just excited to see their progress as well. The future of women’s boxing is very, very bright back home. It’s just incredible to watch their success. Amazing times,” Taylor said.
“I actually brought Amy over for sparring before my last fight, she’s a fantastic southpaw a great, great fighter and when she turns pro she’s going to make amazing progress there as well. I’m just excited to watch her journey really, to watch all these girls’ journey and it’s great to have an influence on their careers.”
There are rising pros too who will be looking to challenge Taylor. Mikaela Mayer, Alycia Baumgardner and Caroline Dubois all boxed on the Shields-Marshall undercard. The undisputed champion will be an eventual target for all of them.
“We’ll see what happens. There’s definitely a lot of potential opponents out there and I’m obviously ready and willing to step into the ring against any of those girls. I hope there won’t be any changing of the guard. I want to stay in this position for a very, very long time,” Taylor said.
“We’re getting the respect we deserve. We’re getting the platform. It’s just an amazing time. For me, personally, there is no shortage of big fights out there.
“I’m not even thinking about retirement. I think everyone’s waiting for me to retire but I feel very fresh right now. I still love my sport.”
Taylor has her own dreams to pursue. The next frontier for women’s boxing is to stage a stadium fight. That’s what the Irish star wants to do.
“I think a dream for me is to headline a huge fight at home in Ireland,” she said. “The thought of say headlining at Croke Park in front of 80,000 people… That’s exactly what I think we all deserve. I hope it can happen sometime soon.
“A homecoming fight in Ireland, a big fight in Vegas would be incredible. I do genuinely believe people haven’t seen the best of me and I just want to continue to improve.”