Katie Taylor is undisputed lightweight champion of the world after controversial decision
Katie Taylor is the undisputed lightweight champion of the world after collecting her fourth and final belt, beating Delfine Persoon with a split decision.
In an almighty battle in New York, Taylor looked to have come unstuck against the 34-year-old who never once relented in coming forward.
It was a display of tenacity, toughness and real physical dominance from the Belgian and in what became a bit of a messy brawl, she looked like she had done enough to steal Taylor's three belts and be crowed the undisputed champion herself.
The judges went against all the pundits though and, with one scoring the fight as a draw, two awarded Taylor a two-point victory and the majority decision ruled.
Delfine Persoon is no mug.
In fact, she's one of the most respected fighters in the professional game and came into Madison Square Garden off the back of a what is nearly a nine-year undefeated strike having won 34 fights in a row.
But just like Rose Valante before her was forced to relinquish her loss column zero and lose the WBO belt in the process, Persoon was issued her first defeat since 2010 and Taylor was handed the last remaining title to monopolise the lightweight division.
The opening round lived up to the pre-fight atmosphere. As 'Ole Ole Ole' rang out almost immediately when Taylor's list of acclaims were eventually all read out, the Bray gem brought the explosive fists in the opening exchanges, trying to get at Persoon's face and body but the Belgian advanced with courage and long arms and the pair traded blows.
Persoon kept up her gusto in the second, coming straight at Taylor, punching straight, and landing too. She won the second round despite Taylor catching her twice before the bell.
Persoon caught Taylor with a shoulder to the chin away from the sight of the referee and the third and fourth fights became a complete dog fight, the way the more experienced professional would've preferred it.
In the fifth round, Taylor looked to have the measure of her awkward opponent. Persoon was cutting the angles in the ring well and taking up space but the Wicklow native began to counter, hitting clean with clever reactions. She was bleeding from the head however and the second half of the round saw a more emotional approach that drew the crowd in as Taylor urged Persoon to give her her worst as she stood against the ropes.
After a frantic first half to the bout, the fight finally settled down in the sixth and seventh and, although both fighters were taking punishment and so obviously tiring, Taylor picked off essential points that were needed because Persoon kept coming strong.
By the end of the eighth, the scoring was level if it wasn't in Persoon's favour and Taylor was under serious pressure with just two rounds - four minutes - to make something happen.
And, by Jesus, she made something happen.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) June 2, 2019
Taylor dug deep in the ninth round and bruised Persoon's face some more. The Belgian was eating punches but still finding it in her to ante up and go again and catch Taylor too.
All the while though, whilst the front foot dominance looked imposing, Taylor was still landing and finding openings and it was enough to send her home with a fourth belt.