Katie Taylor retained her undisputed world lightweight titles with a unanimous points decision over Delfine Persoon after another close and brutal encounter on Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp show in Essex.
Persoon was furious when she lost her WBC title to Taylor at Madison Square Garden last year, but this time she accepted the loss with good grace, despite piling pressure on Taylor for most of the fight. Taylor’s problem was that whatever she landed, she couldn’t back Persoon up. Sometimes the Belgian looked basic and agricultural, but she had plenty of success.
It was a close fight. Taylor boxed well and landed the more eye-catching shots, but Persoon’s pressure and aggression gave her plenty of success.
One judge, Victor Loughlin, made Taylor an overwhelming winner, 98-93, while Mark Lyson and John Latham both made Taylor the winner by 96-94.
“It was never going to be an easy fight against Delfine, she is relentless,” Taylor said.
“I knew I would have to dig deep at some point during the fight but I thought I boxed a lot better than last time and stuck to my boxing, even though I got drawn in a few times. For the most part I stuck to my boxing this time and that’s what got me the win.
“You can’t relax in there at all against someone like Delfine, she is going to come and come and come. Even though I am hitting her with clean shots, she is going to attack all the time.
“What an amazing two fights for women’s boxing. I think it was a lot more convincing tonight, even though it was never going to be an easy fight.”
Persoon, who said she believed she had broken her nose in the second round. showed plenty of respect after, agreeing that Taylor deserved the verdict. Neither seemed keen on a third fight, though, with Persoon saying she would be better suited by a move down to super-featherweight.
“This time I respect the result,” she said. “For me this time, the weight was a little bit too much. I weighed 57kg, so then I eat, eat, eat, but I feel I don’t have the power this time to hurt her.
“If you don’t hurt her, it’s technical and she is good. She runs around and you have to hurt her or she is away. She deserves this time to win, no problem.”
Having been dragged into a brawl the first time they met, Taylor was determined not to let the same thing happen this time. She started well, moving week and spearing Persoon with straight shots. Persoon tried to close the distance, got through with an overhand right and bundled the Irish boxer to the floor in a clinch, but seldom found Taylor in range.
Early in the second round, a large swelling began to develop under her right eye, while the Belgian was angered by a clash of heads, but Taylor was not slowing down and as Persoon tried to hold, Taylor landed well to the body.
Persoon went into all-out attack mode at the start of the third round, landing two clubbing rights, although Taylor maintained her discipline and got away from trouble. The fourth was more of the same, the Belgian planting her feet and throwing non-stop with both hands. Taylor was reading her better now, though, as she slipped the shots and caught Persoon square on with a pair of crunching rights.
There were signs in the fifth that the storm from Persoon was starting to blow out, although she was still out-throwing Taylor. Persoon was right back to her most ferocious in the sixth and she just walked Taylor down and while Taylor landed two good left hooks, Persoon was getting through with plenty of punches too.
Persoon started to slow again in the eighth, but Taylor was showing signs of tiredness too after being under so much pressure and Persoon landed a good right cross as Taylor backed away. Taylor did better in the ninth, but the titles seemed to be slipping away.
The Belgian seemed to be fighting in slow motion in the last, as Taylor landed two big left hooks and then a hefty right. Nothing would dissuade Persoon, though, who neglected defence to keep throwing. Persoon again turned things around her way, but Taylor finished strongly, as Persoon slipped to her knees and got up, the pair were still swapping punches before Ian John-Lewis, the referee, could intervene.