By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Delfine Persoon couldn’t believe her ears.
The angered Belgian boxer left the ring immediately after Katie Taylor was announced as the winner of their lightweight title unification fight Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The relentless, rugged Persoon gave Taylor everything she could handle, but judges Allen Nace and John Poturaj scored their highly competitive, entertaining, 10-round fight 96-94 for Taylor, who won a majority decision.
Judge Don Trella scored their fight even (95-95), but Taylor still became women’s boxing undisputed lightweight champion on the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr. undercard.
Taylor (14-0, 6 KOs), of Bray Ireland, defended her IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight titles. She also won the WBC 135-pound championship from Persoon (34-2, 18 KOs), who hadn’t lost since Zelda Tekin stopped her in the fourth round of their November 2010 bout.
Taylor joined Cecilia Braekhus and Claressa Shields as the only women in boxing to become undisputed champions in a division during the four-belt era.
Norway’s Braekhus (35-0, 9 KOs) owns the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO welterweight titles. The United States’ Shields (9-0, 2 KOs) holds those four championships in the middleweight division.
“Well, it was a very, very close fight,” Taylor said. “I thought I won the early rounds and she came on very strong at the end. But I felt that I did enough to win the fight, but it was very, very close. I knew it was gonna be that kind of a fight. Persoon is a great champion, a fantastic champion, and very, very strong. So, we saw in here today it was a fantastic showcase for women’s boxing.”
CompuBox credited Persoon with landing 13 more punches overall than Taylor (116-of-586 to 103-of-410). CompuBox counted more power punches for Taylor (93-of-320 to 83-of-360) and more jabs for Persoon (33-of-226 to 10-of-90).
Persoon peppered Taylor with punches with approximately a minute to go in their back-and-forth fight. That didn’t stop Taylor from going on the offensive about 30 seconds later, which initiated a fantastic conclusion to it.
Taylor caught Persoon with a flush left hook at the 1:25 mark of the ninth round. Persoon pushed Taylor to the canvas with 35 seconds left in the ninth.
Persoon appeard to hit Taylor twice after the bell sounded to end the ninth round.
A right hand by Persoon knocked Taylor backward, into the ropes, with just under a minute to go in the eighth round.
Persoon’s straight right hand landed with about 20 seconds to go in the seventh round. A combination by Persoon just before the end of the round initiated an entertaining exchange.
Taylor’s left hook landed toward the end of the sixth round. She then sidestepped Persoon’s attempt at a counter right hand.
By the end of the sixth round, the swelling above Persoon’s left eye had become severe.
A left hook by Taylor caught Persoon around the 1:15 mark of the fifth. Soon thereafter, Taylor backed against the ropes and waved the aggressive Persoon forward.
Persoon pressed the action throughout the fourth round, when she and Taylor landed clean punches.
About 30 seconds into the third round, Lee warned Persoon and Taylor for hitting each other behind the head while clinched. Taylor clipped Persoon with a solid, straight right hand with approximately 30 seconds to go in the third.
Persoon’s overhand right snapped back Taylor’s head with 1:12 to go in the second round. They traded right hands toward the end of the second round.
Persoon tried to rough up Taylor about a minute into the fight. Once Taylor landed a left hook, Persoon hit her in a clinch and behind her head. Persoon got physical again toward the end of the first round, when Lee warned her for a low blow.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.