Christina Linardatou is the defending titleholder against Katie Taylor on Nov. 2 in Manchester, but she’s also the road fighter, the B-side promotionally, and the underdog.
The 31-year-old Linardatou, originally from the Dominican Republic and now based in Athens, Greece, isn’t worried about any of it. She’s just excited to face one of the top women’s boxers in the world in a big fight.
“It’s going to be a great match. I’ve been expecting this match for a long time but under different conditions,” she said. “But at any rate, I’ll go ahead with this match. Both Katie and I come from lower (weight) categories and I managed to enter 140 because I didn’t have chance to fight for titles, I always have boxed away from home and if Katie wants my title she has to get it off me.”
It’s not entirely true that Linardatou (12-1, 6 KO) didn’t have world title chances. She did get one at lightweight, back in 2016, when she went to Belgium and dropped a wide decision to Delfine Persoon — the same Delfine Persoon who just gave Taylor absolute hell in the Irish star’s last fight on June 1 in New York.
But the real point Linardatou is making ahead of this fight is clear: for women’s boxing to get bigger, to really take hold with the public, the best fighters have to fight each other.
“I’m so happy, these fights must happen,” she said. “People need good fights to make women’s boxing grow. I believe I’m the best fighter at 140 pounds. I’m not afraid of losing my belt. I’m getting in the ring to give my best like I always do.”
For Taylor (14-0, 6 KO), the fight is going to undoubtedly come with at least some criticism, which she’s probably not terribly used to in her boxing career. Most felt that she owed Persoon a rematch for the undisputed lightweight championship, having scraped by her via majority decision in a fight many felt Persoon had done enough to win.
But the 33-year-old from Bray, Ireland, says that this is about trying to keep achieving in the sport.
“This is a huge opportunity for me to become a two-weight world champion as a history maker for me and my country,” she said. “I’m very, very aware of the challenge that Christina brings. I do believe that she’s the best 140-pounder in the division and I cannot wait for a very, very exciting fight.
“It’s a new challenge moving up in weight, I’ve worked very hard in the gym to build up. You’ll see the very best of me and I’ll need to be on my game because I think Linardatou is the number one at 140lbs.
“I’m excited to fight in the UK, I love it, and the support I’ve got has been outstanding, I’m so grateful for that. It’s my first time in the ring as undisputed lightweight champ so it’s going to be a special night. I only take one fight at a time and my focus is completely on this one.”
Taylor has been linked to the Persoon rematch idea, of course, and also to a fight with division-hopping Amanda Serrano, who has won world titles in seven weight classes and just recently smashed up Heather Hardy over 10 rounds.
“It’s going to be a huge 12 months for me, but I have to get past Christina first,” Taylor said. “She brings a lot to the table and I’m very aware of the challenge. It brings a new challenge moving up in weight, but I’ve been working very hard in the gym I feel like I’m getting stronger each time.”