SAN DIEGO, Calif. – May 31, 2019 – Holding all major world titles in the four belt era is one of the most difficult achievements in boxing. Since 2014, there have only been two in women’s boxing: welterweight Cecelia Braekhus, and more recently middleweight Claressa Shields.
On Saturday night, the third undisputed, unified champion will be named in the women’s lightweight division. Katie Taylor of Ireland (13-0, 6 KOs) and veteran Delfine Persoon (43-1, 18 KOs) of Belgium will risk their titles on the undercard of the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. card at Madison Square Garden. The fight airs on DAZN USA in the broadcast starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Taylor weighed in at 134.6 pounds; Persoon at 130.6 pounds.
“The minute I turned professional I wanted to become the undisputed champion, this was always my goal,” said Taylor. “I nearly pinch myself that I have this opportunity at the Mecca of boxing Madison Square Garden, it can’t get any bigger than this. I’m ready to make history and I’m ready to perform on Saturday night. This is what I’ve always wanted.”
Persoon: Police officer and seasoned pro boxer
Persoon makes her American debut on Saturday, and it is only her second fight outside Belgium of her decade long pro career. “Belgium is a small country, I think New York is bigger than Belgium,” laughed Persoon. “Boxing as a sport in Belgium is not recognized so I’m the first boxer that can make history for the Belgian boxing sport. For me it’s very exciting.
“I think I will be the first Belgian boxer that can take all of the belts. It’s my passion. I want to do everything for it. I never thought I’d have the chance, we are ready and we go for it.”
Taylor, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, currently holds the IBF, WBA, and WBO titles, having picked up the latter with a ninth round stoppage win in March against Rose Volante of Brazil. Persoon has been the WBC lightweight champion since 2014. This will be her tenth title defense.
Although they are nearly the same age – Taylor is 32, Persoon is 34 – Taylor has an extensive amateur career, while Persoon moved on quickly from amateur to professional boxing in 2009 due to a lack of opportunities to represent Belgium in the 2008 Olympics. Persoon is a police officer by day, while Taylor has been able to focus solely on boxing as a career.
“I’m expecting a tough fight, she has a lot more experience in amateur fighting, there was no national team for me in Belgium so it was no possible for me to go to World or European championships,” explained Persoon.”Katie Taylor is an Olympic champion. I can compete with an Olympic champion and hopefully beat an Olympic champion.”
Taylor relishes the chance to take on a tough opponent for the chance to unify the division. “We’re both here to make history for our nations, we’re both here to perform and it’s going to make for a very exciting fight. This is by far the biggest night of my career, this is the pinnacle of boxing to have all five belts, the Ring Magazine belt is up for grabs as well. This is what every fighter dreams of. I understand how big this fight is and the magnitude of this event. This is why I box, these are the fights that I always wanted and I’m ready to make history.”
Prediction: Katie Taylor by decision
Persoon is two inches taller than Taylor at 5-foot-7. She is a volume puncher, busy and somewhat awkward in the ring. She doesn’t have the raw power to stop opponents with a single knockout punch, but piles up damage round by round. But Persoon is plenty tough thanks to her day job in law enforcement and more than a decade as an active professional boxer.
Taylor’s professional skillset has developed quickly over 13 fights. She is aggressive with a diversified arsenal of punches. She is among the best body punchers in women’s boxing, and mixes up left hooks to the body and head with precision. Taylor is aggressive and she will come right after Persoon. It’s to Persoon’s advantage to fight on the outside and use her experience to stay away from Taylor’s most damaging shots.
Taylor has all the talent it takes to win. Persoon hasn’t faced an opponent with the kind of pure talent Taylor possesses. The Belgian will have to win by using her head and staying focused. Our prediction: Taylor has more power, more versatility, and is far more aggressive. Unless she makes a reckless mistake, she should take all of the belts home to Ireland.
“Delfine Persoon is a fantastic champion and this is exactly what boxing needs, it’s champion against champion, the best vs. the best,” said Taylor. “This isn’t just what women’s boxing needs, this is what boxing needs.” Let’s hope Taylor’s message is heard loud and clear by the rest of her peers, male and female – including the heavyweights at the top of the card.
Also featured on the undercard in New York:
Chris Algieri of New York fights Tommy Coyle of England for the WBO International Super Lightweight Title (12 rounds)
Joshua Buatsi of England takes on Marco Antonio Periban of Mexican for the WBA International Light Heavyweight Title (10 rounds)
Josh Kelly of England fights Ray Robinson of Philadelphia for the WBA International Welterweight title (10 rounds)
Callum Smith of England faces veteran Hassan N’Dam of Monaco for the WBA, WBC Diamond, and Ring Magazine Super Middleweight titles (12 rounds)
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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