21 March 2009 – By Mark Doyle
On the same night that Bernard Dunne capture a world title, amateur starlet Katie Taylor captured the hearts of the Irish nation by turning in a thrilling performance in her lightweight victory over American Caroline Barry earlier on the historic O2 bill.
Although rated as arguably the finest pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, few Irish had actually seen the Bray boxer fight in the flesh.
As a result, she received a rapturous reception when she took the ring and exited a star after turning in a performance in which she showcased her incredible boxing skills, as well as no end of resolve and heart.
The two-time world amateur champion got the nod 26-3 on the computer-scoring system but that was somewhat misleading.
Indeed, Barry had played her part into what had descended into an absorbing brawl by the fourth and final round.
Taylor had dominated the opening half of the bout, demonstrating her incredible handspeed and nimble footwork as she boxed her way to 14-0 advantage.
However, she appeared to tire thereafter and allowed Barry to draw her into a brawl. Taylor even appeared in real trouble at the start of the round after a tremendous assault which resulted in Barrys first two points on the contest.
Taylor went back to work on the outside, utilising her superior boxing prowess, to pull further clear but still appeared to be fading and repeatedly allowed herself to be pinned back against the ropes by the rough and tough Barry.
The fourth continued in much the same vein as a clearly fatigued Taylor began to look to clenches for some much-needed respite.
However, she was merely conserving energy for a strong finale, Taylor going toe-to-toe with Barry as they brought an enthralling contest which will have undoubtedly done much for the perception of women’s boxing with Ireland.