IRELAND’S OLYMPIC GOLD medalist Katie Taylor has announced that she will fight in Dublin next year.
The 26-year-old Bray native captured the hearts of the nation during the summer when she defeated Sofya Ochigava of Russia in the final of the middleweight division, in what has since been named the most iconic sporting moment of the year.
At a press conference today, Taylor, who is now focused on defending her title at Rio 2016, confirmed that she will make her competitive return to the ring on February 24 with the 2,000-seater Bord Gais Energy Theatre named as the venue.
While America’s Queen Underwood and Natasha Jones of Great Britain have been touted as possible opponents, one has yet to be revealed.
“It’s great to have a date to focus on now and it will be great to box at home as Olympic Champion,” Taylor said.
“I was humbled by all the people who came over to support me in London, it felt like the Irish fans took over the arena for my fights so it’s great now that people will have a chance to see me on home soil taking on world class opposition.
“I boxed at the O2 in 2009 and it was a brilliant experience and the crowds reaction that night was amazing and really lifted me and it would be great to repeat that in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in February.”
I’m still only 26 and I feel I have things to prove and things to achieve in the sport. I’m constantly learning in the gym and looking to improve. I’ve always set myself goals and I want to retain that Olympic title in Rio in 2016 and retain my European and World titles as well so I’m hungrier than ever to keep improving.
“It was a very long road to get to the top step of that podium in London. When I started boxing as a child I always dreamed of winning a gold medal for my country at the Olympics but obviously for so long it didn’t look like that would ever be possible.
“I think I’m proof that if you work at your dreams hard enough and persevere they can come through. It’s brilliant to see the effect winning the gold medal has had on kids when I meet them and it’s amazing to think that they are taking inspiration from what I have done and see that nothing is impossible.”
Taylor spars with Tiffany Spencer at the media conference today. Credit: NPHO/Morgan Treacy
Her father and trainer Peter added: “Katie’s incredibly driven and she’s not happy to settle for everything she’s won to date. She wants to keep on improving and to keep winning.
“Hopefully everything we are doing here will lead to the next Olympics in Rio and that’s the long term goal but in the medium term it’s about defending her European title next October and obviously the short term goal is this fight on February 24th.
“I know a lot of her European rivals won’t want to box her until the European Championships so to prepare for those I want Katie to box world class opposition and that will mean bringing over some of the best girls in the world to box her.
We’re looking at a number of possibilities right now and will confirm her opponent in the next few weeks.”
Tickets for the fight are priced at €40 and go on sale on Ticketmaster.ie tomorrow morning.