Katie Taylor Hangs On Against Aggressive Jessica McCaskill

Taylor Tops McCaskill in Solid Brawl


By Phil Woolever


Katie Taylor has always said she’s ready for those who may call her out.


Jessica McCaskill found out Taylor means it.


Taylor (now 8-0,4 KO), pounded out a bruising unanimous decision in the first defense of her WBA Lightweight belt. Scoring was 97-92 (twice) and 98-91.


Those tallies were accurate but did not reflect how close the action was, in the type of high profile, hard fought brawl that will make the market for women’s boxing continue to grow. Much of the bout was sloppy as McCaskill tried to rumble inside, but it was also an entertaining, crowd pleasing affair.


McCaskill (5-2, 3KO), who also works as an investment banker in Chicago, repeatedly called out the undefeated Taylor on social media. McCaskill got what she asked for, challenging for Taylor’s  title at London’s sold-out York Hall.


Taylor weighed in at an official 134.1, while McCaskill was 132.9. McCaskill looked prepared and played the worthy underdog role well throughout the promotion.


“There’s a lot of opportunity in this fight,” McCaskill told the press. “A lot of things that you see about Katie Taylor are the highlights, the good things. You watch an actual fight, there’s a lot of mistakes.”


Once the “actual fight” began, taking advantage of any mistakes Taylor might have made became much easier said than done. McCaskill was always aggressive, but she was not always effective. She rushed out immediately and stayed busy, but Taylor caught her with counters.


McCaskill calmed down in the second frame and worked more effectively with her jab. Both women scored inside as they wrestled, held and hit. Referee Howard Foster took a point from Taylor for that repeated behavior in the 7th session.


Taylor landed up the middle but looked troubled by McCaskill’s power. Taylor got on her toes in the 4th round and controlled the distance from outside for the rest of the night.


McCaskill wobbled Taylor with a left hook in round 6 but the rest of the frame was mostly wrestling and the crowd jeered. McCaskill missed some wild shots by half the distance back to Illinois.


McCaskill managed to rough Taylor up a bit down the stretch, but she never could trap her or keep up on the cards.


For Taylor, it was the kind of fight that provided an excellent, skill-sharpening experience that will maintain her rugged image. For McCaskill, it was the same type experience that should put her on many fans’ radar.


A rematch somewhere down the line does not sound like the worst idea.


It was a nice moment for women’s boxing to have images of Taylor and McCaskill given large prominence on the banner that framed much of the broadcast. The audience of around 1,300 was predominantly male by a large margin.


The bout was billed as the first time in which women competed as the main event of a national broadcast in England, with Taylor being hyped as an Anthony Joshua type attraction, and introduced in the ring as “the legend.”


Taylor appeared a bit sheepish at such comparisons, but there is nothing shy about her quest for greatness. She knows it is still quite a journey to the apex of the sport. Tonight was another good step, and it wasn’t easy.


“I want people to see the best of women’s boxing, so these are the fights I want” said Taylor. “I’ve got the dream of unifying the division eventually. This sets things up for a big, big year next year.”


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