PHILADELPHIA — Katie Taylor will begin her title-unification fight against Rose Volante at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia on Friday night the same way she begins every fight — with her head bowed in prayer read by her mom in the dressing room.
“That’s probably one of the most important parts of preparation, actually,” Taylor tells Sporting News. “My mom always comes in and prays with me before every single fight.”
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By that point, the WBA/IBF lightweight champion’s body has long been ready courtesy of her latest, grueling training camp led by Ross Enamait. All that’s left is to enter the ring, honed in mentally and spiritually.
“We’ve always believed that what Katie does has been a gift from God,” her mother, Bridget, tells SN about their Christian faith. “She’s born to box and we want to bring God into the equation, I suppose, and not to leave him out of it because we feel he’s a huge part of who she is.”
In particular, Bridget says Bible Psalm 18 resonates with Katie the most. It contains the lines: “He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
“I think she identifies with it as being a fighter because it talks about training your hands for battle,” Bridget said. “There’s a lot of warrior, fighter talk in that Psalm. It’s very relational to what she does.”
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Definitely so. And having her mom read those words in what has become a pre-fight ritual for as long as the two could remember, is just the thing that Katie needs to go from this demure personality outside the ring to a ferocious warrior in it. And beyond boxing as well.
“I think there’s nothing better than having a praying mother by your side,” Katie said. “She definitely has me in her prayers every single day — not just for boxing, but every day life.”
Those aforementioned “heights” are what the 32-year-old continues to scale on the pathway to becoming an undisputed world champion. If Taylor (12-0, 5 KOs) defeats Volante (14-0, 8 KOs) and takes the Brazilian’s WBO lightweight title, the missing piece to the undisputed crown would be Delfine Persoon (43-1, 18 KOs) and her WBC strap. Taylor’s Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn even upped the ante, telling SN that a Taylor-Persoon clash could be June 1 on the Anthony Joshua-Jarrell Miller card at Madison Square Garden.
Taylor has blinders on for Volante only right now, but did acknowledge her route to becoming an undisputed world champion.
“There are a lot of big fights that are available for me, but I got to get ahead of Rose Volante first,” she said. “But, yeah, of course if that fight goes well, Delfine Persoon will be the perfect opponent for when I try to become undisputed champion.”
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Taylor also acknowledged possible super fights with the likes of an Amanda Serrano or long-reigning undisputed welterweight world champion Cecilia Braekhus to further cement her fighting legacy.
“You need to take those risks,” she implored. “You get a lot of boxers nowadays that are so concerned about the zeroes on their records. I want to be like the old-time fighters who just took the fights. The likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran … that era of boxing was just the best because they all fought one another. That’s the kind of fighter I want to be around, fighting whoever it is.”
In a short period of time, Taylor has managed to continue to check off the feats on her to-do list of goals. Boxing before an Olympic committee paved the way for the inclusion of women’s boxing in the Olympic Games. The Irish fighter then went out and won the 2012 gold medal.
She became a world champion in just her seventh pro fight, before becoming a unified world titleholder two bouts later.
Check and double-check.
Next would be becoming undisputed ruler.
MORE: Katie Taylor sees path to undisputed lightweight crown
It’s that attitude of leaving no stones unturned that has earned Taylor global respect, including from superstar men in combat sports who admire her for not only being a great women’s boxer, but great boxer, period.
Conor McGregor was present for Taylor’s October win over Cindy Serrano in Boston and greeted her afterwards in the dressing room, calling her an “Irish hero,” while imploring to “demand your respect.”
“I love Conor. He genuinely has my back,” Taylor says. “I love that advice he gave me to just command that respect.”
Earlier this week, Anthony Joshua told Sky Sports that Taylor will capture the undisputed crown, with the unified heavyweight champ adding that he has learned a lot from watching her in action.
Hearing that is flattering for Taylor.
“That’s a huge honor for me to hear the best heavyweight in the world, just to hear him say those things is incredible,” she says. “To hear those words from him actually means so much.”
While the pathway toward becoming an undisputed world champ is well-lit, with Taylor aiming to not only accomplish that feat, but subsequently put her fighting legacy out of reach with some super fights, she’s not overlooking Volante at all.
“She’s a dangerous opponent, she comes into this fight obviously undefeated as well,” Taylor says of the Brazilian, who will be making her U.S. debut. “I know it’s going to be a tough fight.”
Perhaps her stiffest competition to date. But come Friday night, her mom’s prayer will activate the quiet storm and the ferocious warrior will be ready to fight.
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