Taylor, Persoon to fight for undisputed title
Another women's undisputed world championship fight has been finalized.
Katie Taylor, who holds three lightweight belts, will take on titlist Delfine Persoon for the undisputed women's lightweight world championship on June 1 (DAZN) at Madison Square Garden in New York, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn announced on Tuesday.
The bout, which comes as no surprise because Hearn has been talking about getting a deal done for the past few months, will take place on the card headlined by unified heavyweight world titlist Anthony Joshua. He will make his United States debut in a defense against top contender Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller.
"This is it -- this is everything, the absolute pinnacle of the sport," Hearn said of the Taylor-Persoon fight. "The dream is on, the undisputed championship and I can't wait to see this fight on June 1."
The winner will be only the seventh fighter of the four-belt era to become an undisputed world champion and the third woman. The fight will come less than two months after Claressa Shields dominated Christina Hammer in a one-sided decision on Saturday night in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to unify the four major middleweight titles. The other woman to accomplish the feat is reigning undisputed women's welterweight world champion Cecilia Braekhus.
There have also only been four men to hold all four belts at the same time: cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, who did it last year, junior welterweight Terence Crawford (2017) and middleweights Jermain Taylor (2005) and Bernard Hopkins (2004).
Taylor (13-0, 6 KOs), 32, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Ireland, who will be making her seventh title defense, unified three of the 135-pound belts on March 15 when she knocked out Rose Volante in the ninth round on March 15 in Philadelphia.
Now Taylor has the chance to claim the fourth belt against Persoon (43-1, 18 KOs), 34, of Belgium, who will be making her 10th title defense since winning her belt in 2014.
"It's great that she has finally signed for the fight and I'm delighted that Eddie has been able to make it," Taylor said. "After my fight last month I went back home for a week but then it was straight back to Connecticut to start the hard work in training camp for this fight. When I turned professional my first goal was to win a world title, but then my next priority was to become undisputed champion, so obviously this fight gives me the opportunity to do that so it's massive for my career.
"Women's boxing is in such great place right now and these are the kind of super fights that will really take it to new heights. Persoon is recognized as one of the best in the world pound-for-pound and has been the WBC champ now for over five years, so it's the best against the best. Madison Square Garden seems like the perfect setting for a fight of this magnitude."
The fight has been on the drawing board for a while, but both women had to come through fights. Taylor did so on March 15 and Persoon did the same on March 9 when she stopped Melissa St. Vil in the seventh round.
Persoon will be fighting outside of Europe for the first time and also hoping to claim the undisputed crown.
"This is a very unique opportunity for me and I'm thankful we've got the fight made," Persoon said. "I did not have the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games and now I get the chance to compete with the Olympic champion in Katie Taylor. I expect this will be a very tough and honest fight and that the best boxer may win this title fight -- and I expect that to be me."