Katie Taylor: Irishwoman beats Jennifer Han to remain undisputed lightweight champion

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Katie Taylor maintained her perfect professional record as she clinched a 19th straight victory
Taylor knocked down Texan Han in the eighth round on the contest at Headingley Stadium

Ireland’s Katie Taylor remained undisputed world lightweight champion but was made to work by USA’s Jennifer Han before winning on points in Leeds.

Former world featherweight champion Han, 38, moved up two divisions to take the fight and her clever movement made life difficult for Taylor early on.

However, the 35-year-old began to find her range in Headingley and she floored the Texan in the eighth round.

As Han began to show war wounds, Taylor clinched her 19th professional win.

The 100-89 verdict on all three judges’ cards looked a little harsh on Han although there was no doubting Taylor’s superiority.

“I am very, very happy with the win but a bit scrappy at times,” said Ireland’s 2012 Olympic champion after her victory.

“I knew she was very crafty in there but I would have liked a stoppage. I want to say a masterclass, it wasn’t, but a win is a win.”

Amanda Serrano retained her WBC and WBO featherweight belts by beating Yamileth Mercado last weekend
Amanda Serrano said after retained her WBC and WBO featherweight belts last weekend that she “definitely” wanted to fight Taylor

Mother-of-two Han belied her huge underdog status in the opening two rounds as Taylor – after a bright opening minute – began to struggle with her timing in front of a 20,000 crowd as the return of fans made for a raucous atmosphere at the Leeds venue.

A couple of solid rights in the third and fourth were enough for Taylor to win those rounds but the American – who gave birth to her second son only six months ago – continued to compete well.

However, another strong right from Taylor put Han down in the eighth although the former featherweight world champion claimed that it had been a slip.

As Han did tire in the closing two rounds, Taylor began to dominate but the American remained on her feet to take the contest to the full distance.

Taylor’s latest victory will inevitable lead to further speculation of a high-profile unification bout with seven-weight world champion Amanda Serrano or potentially a rematch with undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill.

The Irishwoman was set to meet Serrano in May 2020 before the bout was called off because of the pandemic.

Puerto Rican Serrano successfully defended her two featherweight belts last Sunday before expressing her desire to “definitely” meet Taylor.

Taylor will hope to fight again before the end of the year, with her previous bout prior to Saturday’s win, a victory over Natasha Jonas in May.