Katie Taylor’s post-fight comments at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday night said an awful lot about her character. She had just scored a unanimous decision win over the rugged, tough and durable Argentine Anahi Esther Sanchez over ten rounds. Yet she was critical, characterizing her own performance as “a bit wild at times.” She had just claimed the WBA lightweight strap, her first world title as a professional, after just 11 months in the paid ranks. Yet she was already looking ahead to even bigger things.
“This is the start of the takeover for me in the lightweight division,” said the 7-0 Bray native. “I want to unify these belts.”
For so long, Taylor reigned atop the world as an amateur. Five times she boxed her way to gold at the world championships and she was the Olympic champion in 2012. There was absolutely no disputing her superiority from 2006 until 2016, when she had to settle for bronze at the worlds and failed to medal at the Olympic games.
In the pro game, things are a little more cloudy and complex. There is more politics and most divisions are fragmented, with multiple governing bodies and claimants to the status of ‘world champion.’ It’s not surprising then for a fighter like Taylor to feel unsatisfied with the recognition of just one organisation. She wants to emulate her amateur success on this new stage, to be undisputed once again.
In order for her to do so, Taylor must add the WBC, IBF and WBO straps to the WBA belt already in her possession. Let’s take a closer look at the women who currently hold those titles.
Belgium’s Persoon is the current WBC champion, the most experienced titleholder in the women’s lightweight division and, according to the independent rankings at Boxrec.com, the number one female 135-pounder on the planet.
Since turning pro in 2009, Persoon has scored 38 wins, 16 of which came inside the distance, and suffered only a single defeat. That lone setback came in just her tenth outing all the way back in November of 2010.
Persoon claimed the WBC title in April of 2014, ending the three-year reign of a then undefeated Erica Anabella Farias. That looks like a great win in retrospect, as Farias subsequently won the WBC super-lightweight title and made three successful defences before stepping up to challenge undisputed welterweight champion and pound for pound queen Cecelia Braekhus in June of this year. Farias lost to Braekhus via unanimous decision.
Persoon has won nine consecutive fights since scooping the title, including five successful defences. One of those defences came against Maiva Hamadouche in November of 2015. Hamadouche has since gone on to win the IBF super-featherweight title and Persoon is still the only woman to inflict a blemish her professional record.
Persoon’s next title defence is scheduled for the 11th of November, when she will take on Myriam Dellal. Like all but one of Peroon’s 39 career bouts to date, that fight will take place in her homeland.
Victoria Noelia Bustos
The 28-year-old Bustos is, like Taylor’s most recent victim, an Argentine. She has logged 18 wins since turning pro in 2011, but she has yet to vanquish a foe inside the distance. In the meantime, Bustos has incurred four defeats, but two of those, including the most recent one, came against the aforementioned Erica Anabella Farias. The other two came at the hands of the less reputable Natalia Vanesa del Valle Aguirre.
Bustos currently sits fifth in the Boxrec women’s lightweight rankings.
Bustos, who has never fought on foreign soil, won the vacant IBF title via unanimous decision over Ana Laura Esteche in 2013. She made only one defence before dropping it to Del Valle Aguirre in April of 2014. She reclaimed the strap in a rematch four months later however, and has since made three successful title defences. Last July, she failed in an attempt to wrest the WBC super-lightweight strap from Farias.
Bustos’ most recent fight was back in August when she outpointed countrywoman Maria Soledad Capriolo. She does not have a fight scheduled at the current time.
Yohana Belen Alfonzo
Another Argentine, the 28-year-old Alfonzo is the reigning WBO lightweight champion. She has 16 wins to her name, with only 2 defeats and a single draw. She is another less than intimidating puncher, as she has recorded just one stoppage defeat in her pro career. One of her losses came against Bustos in 2013, while her other defeat was to Bustos’ old nemesis Del Valle Aguirre.
Alfonzo, who like Bustos has fought exclusively in Argentina, is currently ranked sixth in the Boxrec women’s lightweight rankings.
Since her loss to Bustos, Alfonzo has scored seven consecutive wins. She picked up the vacant WBO belt with a victory over former champion Maria Elena Maderna in July of 2015 and has made three successful title defences. Alfonzo has, however, been inactive since a December 2016 win over the battle-tested Colombian Diana Ayala.