By Matt Horan
Last Updated: 14/12/17 12:06am
Katie Taylor overcame some testing moments to defeat Jessica McCaskill and successfully make the first defence of her WBA lightweight world title at York Hall.
The Irish sensation once again showed dazzling hand speed at times to take a points victory via scores of 97-92 twice and 98-91, improving her record to 8-0-KO4, but her Chicago opponent, who rocked the chin of Taylor on several occasions, was far from outclassed.
In familiar fashion, the champion, a 2012 Olympic gold medallist, came out firing and quickly landed a fast flurry, but McCaskill demonstrated a teak tight defence in reply, suggesting the contest might not be a foregone conclusion.
Taylor did start to seize control in the second, two right hooks landing flush in a toe-to-toe exchange before an eye-catching left finished the period in style, but McCaskill responded in the next.
Following a Taylor slip to the canvas, the American sent home some crunching shots, one short, sharp left landing cleanly in a tough round for the Bray lightweight.
The Chicago challenger, gunning for a shock victory, again provided pressure in the fourth, but the boxing skills and classier work was with Taylor and that pattern continued into the following period.
‘CasKILLA’ then landed a stunning, crunching left hook which wobbled the champion in the sixth, forcing Taylor to hold on and try and see out the round.
Things then went from bad to worse for the standout amateur when, after repeated holding, referee Howard Foster deducted a point from Taylor in a pulsating seventh.
Realising she perhaps needed to regain control of proceedings, Taylor decided to get back to her supreme boxing skills over the final rounds, circling McCaskill well and landing at will to put the result in no doubt.
Speaking afterwards, Taylor said: “It was a tough fight, the toughest of my career. I knew I had to be at my best. It’s a privilege boxing here at York Hall, I’ve always wanted to box here. I boxed well on the outside.
“A homecoming fight in Dublin has always been on the radar so that would be great next year.
“I was born to do this, created to box, I live the life of my dreams. Whoever has the other belts, I want them all, and I want to make history in this sport.”
McCaskill reflected differently on the fight: “I thought it was closer, I rocked her a couple of times. It was my fault for leaving it up to the judges but the scorecards were too wide.
“Katie ran a lot and potshotted, I thought beforehand that she wanted a fight in the middle of the ring.”