By Steve Bateson: Katie Taylor produced a sensational, one sided performance to successfully defend her IBF and WBA Lightweight Championships against Eva Wahlstrom at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday.
Taylor was absolutely sublime from start to finish and completely dominated Wahlstrom in every single department. The Irish fighter was judging distance perfectly from round one and ripping to head and body with lightning combinations.
Wahlstrom was trying to get her jab working but Taylor drove a right hand over the top of it and then followed up with the four, five punch combinations that have been a hallmark of her career. Taylor was beginning to bring in her trademark left hook to head and body and within three rounds Wahlstrom’s face was marked up and swollen.
The Finnish challenger showed guts to come out swinging in the fourth but Taylor beat her to the punch every time and punished her to the body before heading back upstairs with startling accuracy and venom. Wahlstrom was clearly tough beyond measure but she had no answer for what was coming her way, now resembling little more than a punchbag.
Taylor’s punch variety is exceptional as she worked through the gears and just tore through her opponent like a whirlwind. Wahlstrom was cut from a clash of heads and then around the eye from the continuous punches she was eating, by the final bell she looked as though she had been the victim of a horrendous beatdown and in reality that is exactly what she had been.
Taylor (now 12-0 with 5 KO’s) is relentless from the first bell to the last, her handspeed and combination punching make it almost impossible to match her, and it is hard to believe there is anyone at Lightweight that can get the best of her. She moves in and out of range, switches distance and positioning in the blink of an eye whilst always bobbing from one foot to the other. Her power may not be concussive but she hits you so often that over the course of ten rounds she inflicts great damage upon her opponent; there isn’t a list of superlatives long enough to talk up how good Taylor really is. Wahlstrom was an undefeated fighter and expected to give Taylor the fight of her career thus far but she was so outclassed it was almost cruel to watch at times.
There is talk of a massive fight with Amanda Serrano in New York, maybe around St Patricks Day, but Taylor has always made it clear she wants to unify all of the Lightweight belts. It is now up to Eddie Hearn to get Delfine Persoon (WBC) and Rose Valante (WBO) in the ring with Taylor next year.
Scorecards read: 100-90 x3
Lamont Roach outboxed Alberto Mercado on the way to a unanimous ten round decision at Super Featherweight.
Mercado boxed well early doors and was using his sharp jab to dictate the range and pace. Roach was showing excellent head and body movement to avoid the Mercado right hand whilst trying to counter but the early rounds certainly belonged to the Puerto Rican, his punch output alone putting points on the board.
Roach then began to find his timing and range whilst banging away to the body at every opportunity, an attempt to sap the legs of Mercado. Mercado’s punch output was slowing a little as Roach was finding the target more frequently, the left hand counter becoming a key to his success.
Roach’s hands were faster and his power more prominent , a right uppercut to the body followed by a solid right down the pipe dipped Mercado’s legs momentarily in the fifth. Roach slammed away to the body with right hands and then a straight right/right hook combo had Mercado stumbling to the ropes in the sixth.
Mercado was then forced to absorb a torrid seventh as a right hand and a glancing left to the temple turned his legs to jelly. He staggered to the ropes and Roach uncorked another right and two more left hooks but somehow Mercado survived, it looked almost certain that he would be forced to the deck.
Roach looked to have a handsome lead on the scorecards but Mercado displayed his own credentials in the final two stanzas as he went looking for the knockout that it seemed inevitable he needed. A short inside punch grabbed Roach’s attention in the tenth and final but the American stood his ground as both men traded leather, much to the delight of the Garden crowd, to see in the final bell.
Roach (now 18-0-1 with 7 KO’s) retains his WBO International Championship and will likely climb from #5 in their rankings to a position closer to a world title shot against Masayuki Ito. Roach, at only 23, probably needs one or two more tests before he is thrown in at that level, however.
Scorecards read: 99-91, 98-92, 97-93
Yves Ulysse Jnr scored a eight round decision over Maximilliano Becerra in the first televised bout of the evening. Ulysse used his slick skills to dominate the early rounds but then chose to stand and trade with Becerra as the bout progressed, beating his man in every department. Becerra acquitted himself well in each stanza but was always one step behind and was wide open to Ulysse’s right hand. A stiff right in the sixth turned his legs to lead and a follow up shot forced him to take a knee, although he was able to beat the count. Another sharp, thudding right as Becerra was stepping in had him on the deck again in the seventh but once again he displayed the heart to continue, despite being a mile behind on the scorecards. Becerra came out swinging in the eighth but Ulysee was able to avoid any damage whilst showcasing the levels between the two.
The Canadian, Ulysse Jnr, (now 17-1 with 9 KO’s) is ranked in the top ten for both the WBC and IBF so could find himself in the world mix sometime in 2019 although it is more than likely he will have to fight someone else ranked at the same level in order to prove he belongs at the heady heights, fights with the likes of Jack Caterall, Robbie Davies Jnr or Joe Taylor would be received well in the UK.
Scorecards read: 79-71, 78-72 x2