History made and mission accomplished, but not without controversy.
Katie Taylor realized her dream Saturday night by defeating Delfine Persoon via majority decision in a slugfest at Madison Square Garden to become the undisputed world women’s lightweight champion. Judges scored the bout 95-95, 96-94, 96-94 in scores that easily could have gone – and many would argue should have gone – in favor of Belgium’s Persoon. Sporting News had it 96-94 for Persoon.
Taylor’s victory made the Irish fighter only the third woman to be crowned undisputed champ in the four-belt era. She followed in the footsteps of welterweight ruler Cecilia Braekhus, who was the first to do it, and Claressa Shields, who accomplished the rare feat in the middleweight division in April.
Taylor called it a “very, very close fight” during her postfight interview, which a crying Persoon didn’t bother to stick around for. Persoon clearly felt as though she was robbed of the career-defining victory.
From the opening bell, Persoon made Taylor fight her style of fight. Persoon was able to get inside, make the bout ugly and seemingly throw the 2012 Olympic gold medalist off her game.
By the fourth round, Persoon had opened up a cut on the bridge of Taylor’s nose and the game Belgian kept pouring it on, using her aggressive, awkward style to throw Taylor for a loop.
Although Taylor landed plenty of clean shots, Persoon was the aggressor and even seemed to have closed the bout as the fresher fighter on the stronger note, and done more than enough to get the win by a comfortable margin.
And yet, a bruised and battered Taylor was announced the winner, leaving the Garden with Persoon’s WBC title and as undisputed champion.
Although Taylor welcomes a rematch, she also acknowledged other fights are out there for her.