IRELAND’S Katie Taylor is eagerly looking forward to her first fight on home soil as Olympic champion following confirmation of her return to competitive action in the new year.
Taylor will face an as-yet unconfirmed opponent on Sunday, 24 February at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin as she begins her preparations for what she hopes will lead to a successful defence of her Olympic title in Rio 2016.
“It’s great to have a date to focus on now and it will be great to box at home as Olympic champion,” said Taylor.
The 26-year-old from Bray cemented her place in Irish sporting folklore by winning the nation’s only gold medal at this summer’s London Games after powering her way to glory in the lightweight division in front of thousands of Irish fans at the ExCeL Arena.
She claimed a gruelling 10-8 victory over experienced Russian Sofya Ochigava in the final.
“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,” Taylor said.
Taylor, who since the Games has confirmed she will shun the professional ranks and remain amateur, is also looking to add to her four world and five European titles in the coming years.
“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,” said Ireland’s flag-bearer in London.
Taylor’s opponent for February will be announced in the coming weeks, her father and trainer Pete said.
“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,” he said.
“We’re looking at a number of possibilities right now and will confirm her opponent in the next few weeks.”
Meanwhile, James DeGale has given up his European super-middleweight crown to focus on his pursuit of a world title.
DeGale defeated Pole Piotr Wilczewski in October last year to win the belt and defended it twice against Cristian Sanavia and Hadillah Mohoumadi.
The 26-year-old registered a wide points decision over Fulgencio Zuniga 10 days ago to land the lightly regarded WBC silver title.
“It has been an real honour to be EBU champion and it’s a shame that I have had to choose between the two championship belts I hold,” DeGale said.
“However, I feel my decision to relinquish the European belt is the right decision at this stage in my career.
“I’ve won it and defended it twice and I feel the best course of action is to defend my WBC belt enroute to a world title.
“The WBC belt will give me a wider choice of world class opponents.”
Elsewhere, Golden Boy, the boxing promotion company, plans to apply for a licence to promote fights in Great Britain. The company, which promotes Amir Khan, intends to sign up some of the fighters who boxed for the host nation at the London Olympics.
Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said: “We want to sign up some of those fighters who represented Britain at the Olympics. It would not necessarily be those who won medals and we want those fighters with the right talent and charisma.
“I will be spending a lot of time in the UK and I would personally take these fighters under my wing and nurture them, which is something I have not done before.
“The idea will be to showcase them here in the US as well and we would put on four fights a year in the UK with them and four in the US. We would hope to stage our first show in the UK in the second quarter of 2013.”