Katie Taylor Impresses at Madison Square Garden

Taylor Dominates Wahlstrom in Showcase Performance


By Phil Woolever


Katie Taylor said she’d have to be at her very best to defeat Eva Wahlstrom.


It turns out that Taylor (12-0, 5 KOs) was all that, and even more, in an impressive performance against Wahlstrom (22-1-1) that may move her even higher in the pound for pound rankings and served notice that the consistently improving WBA/IBF lightweight titlist could grow into a threat for any female boxer out there.


The bout was streamed by DAZN as part of the undercard for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s challenge of Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden.


Wahlstrom, 133 ½, was expected to be Taylor’s toughest opponent to date, but the Nordic visitor ran into an Irish buzz saw.


Wahlstrom is a ten time national champion from Finland and pro since 2010, and the only blemish on her record before meeting Taylor was a six round draw in 2011. She did not figure to be an easy out.


Taylor had to work for the win, but the result was almost a given before the midway point.


The contestants appeared almost identical proportionally, but it looked like Taylor, 134 ¼, carried a big advantage in both speed and power. After a couple close rounds, Taylor seized control and never let go as she piled on the points.


Wahlstrom hung tough during many exchanges and has nothing to be ashamed of, but Taylor captured every frame by an increasing margin.


The event was announced as a sellout, but the full crowd had not arrived by the time the women entered the ring earlier in the evening.


Considering these participants’ punching pedigree, Taylor-Wahlstrom would likely have been a higher profile feature in Europe, but that’s what building a brand is all about and this fight was all about building Taylor’s brand.


As the fight began, Wahlstrom attacked from a crouch as Taylor stayed on her toes. Wahlstrom kept her guard high and landed some opening jabs but Taylor responded at a much higher rate with multi-punch combinations that thudded in up and down.


Wahlstrom didn’t go to the body for much of the bout, while Taylor flashed frequent shoe-shines to the midsection, in addition to right hand blasts upstairs. The right side of Wahlstrom’s face looked tender after round four.


There were good trades in the 5th, but Taylor stayed busier and landed a picturesque six-punch combo to the belly. Wahlstrom looked more and more winded as Taylor progressively forced her backward.


It was an increasingly grueling fight inside as they started to bump heads.


Wahlstrom got a second wind around the 8th session but it wasn’t enough as Taylor kept landing the bigger shots and Wahlstrom suffered a vertical cut on her forehead from a clash of heads.


Taylor finished strong and rocked Wahlstrom during the 9th as they bumped heads another time. Wahlstrom never stopped throwing and went to the body, but by the end of the match many of her punches appeared to hit Taylor’s arms or shoulders.


In the 10th, Wahlstrom was cut over the left eye after yet another

head butt which was ruled accidental. Taylor made the crowd yell in approval with another extended flurry to the body.


The announced scoring was pretty much academic. All judges had it 100-90 and nobody in the arena seemed to disagree.


Wahlstrom was bruised but still smiling while Taylor was relatively unmarked.


Afterward in talking about the future, Taylor said she wanted to unify her division and also mentioned Amanda Serrano with a call out of “Let’s get it on!” that brought another big roar from the audience.


“I went straight back into camp after me last fight,” Taylor informed Sky Sports in her Irish brogue. “I feel I’m in the best shape I could possibly be in.”


It certainly looked that way Saturday night in New York City.


Taylor, a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, turned pro in Nov 2016 and has stayed busy in the ring. Her last setback was in the amateurs two years ago, during her second Olympics.


It will probably be a long time before she loses again.


(Photo by Sky Sports)