Taylor homecoming fight set for 24 February
Updated: Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012 21:09
London 2012 lightweight boxing gold medallist Katie Taylor will have her first fight back on Irish soil at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin on 24 February, her opponent in the bout is yet to be confirmed.
It will be a case of back to business for the 26-year-old from Bray at the 2,000-seater Daniel Liebeskind-designed theatre when she takes on a top-class international opponent as she puts the London Olympics behind her and sets her sights on future goals following her decision to remain an amateur boxer and target further Olympic, world and European titles.
"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.
"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."
Taylor took the London Olympics by storm earlier this year with a series of brilliant performances en route to winning gold as women's boxing made it's Olympic debut.
The Bray woman has named by USA Today naming her as one of the most inspirational athletes of the London Games alongside track stars Usain Bolt, Mo Farrah and David Rudisha.
"I was humbled by all the people who came over to support me in London" - Katie Taylor
She also topped the 2012 charts as the most "Googled" person in Ireland as well as the top trending Irish person, both indicators of how her success has gripped the nation.
The boxer has also been named by the AIBA as their Women's Boxer of the Year 2012. However, she is adamant to keep her feet on the ground in the face of such success.
"It's all been a bit of a whirlwind really and it's been such a busy time but I'm really looking forward to getting back in the ring and boxing again," said Taylor. "I've tried to keep life as normal as possible and the support from people wishing me well has been brilliant.
"It seems everyone knows who I am now but I've never been interested in being a 'celebrity' so that has taken some adjusting to.
"I took a few weeks off from training after the Olympics but I've been back in the gym for quite a while now so its good to be back in a routine and training hard again with a fight date to focus on."
Hunger still alive for more medals
Despite a medal collection that now boasts an Olympic gold, four World Championship golds, five European Championship golds and four European Union gold medals, Taylor claims that her hunger for precious metal remains undiminished.
She said: "The Olympics really opened people's eyes to the sport and the standard at the games was so high and it's only going to get harder to defend my titles.
"The major boxing nations are investing hugely in the sport and some of my rivals like Sofya Ochigava in Russia, the Chinese girl Cheng Dong and Natasha Jonas from the UK now face serious competition in their own countries so the standards keep rising as the sport's profile is increasing.
“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.”
Father and coach Pete Taylor focused on European defence
Her father and trainer Pete says preparations are already well advanced for Katie's return to the ring.
He said: "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 24 February.
“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."