Knockouts: The Silent Rise Of Women’s British Boxing

Tom Dunstan
Tom Dunstan
Contributor

On the eve of another historic evening in Cardiff, 75,000 boxing fans will be swarming the Principality Stadium to catch a glimpse of boxing’s new heavyweight poster boy. But, unbeknown to many, one of Britain’s most decorated and talented boxers will be fighting for HER very first world title.

A winner of 18 gold medals as an amateur, including Olympic glory in 2012, despite not receiving a fraction of the attention someone of her talent deserves, ‘The Bray Bomber’ has steamrolled through the paid ranks in a similar fashion to her amateur career. In what is set to be only her seventh fight among the professional ranks, the 31-year-old lightweight will be fighting for her first world title as she looks to add the WBA flyweight crown to her already glittering resume and simultaneously become only Ireland’s third world champion.

For Taylor, although this might be labelled as the biggest fight of her storied career, Ireland’s favourite daughter has already shown that she will not be fazed by fighting under the bright lights. In under a year, Taylor has already performed on the undercards of Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko and has even made her American debut fighting on the build-up to Adrian Broner vs Mikey Garcia. Even though she may have only made her professional debut 10-months-ago, Taylor has been described as a pioneer for women’s boxing.

However, although Taylor is undoubtedly on a path to domestic superstardom, she is not the only British star who is breaking down barriers and being given the opportunity to show their skills on the biggest of stages. Earlier this year, Britain’s first women’s boxing world championships winner Savannah Marshall, became the first female British fighter to be signed to Floyd Mayweather’s growing stable of talent.

The biggest testament to Mayweather’s trust and belief in Marshall’s skills is that much like Katie Taylor, the former 2012 and 2016 Olympian has been thrust into the limelight. In only her first ever professional contest, the 26-year-old made her debut on the undercard of the historic Mayweather vs McGregor fight in August.

Although women’s boxing is still some way off from being held in the same regard as it is for their male counterparts, it truly has been a remarkable journey for women’s boxing. Despite women fighting professionally across Europe, in the United Kingdom, the British Boxing Board of Control refused to issue licences to women until 1998.

Even though women’s professional boxing may only just be beginning to attract the attention of the mainstream audience, women’s amateur boxing in Britain has always been synonymous with one woman. After becoming the first British boxer to retain an Olympic Gold medal for over 90 years, Nicola Adams’ household name and celebrity profile are another key factor behind the emergence of our female fighters.

Still regarded as Britain’s most celebrated amateur boxer, in January, the double Olympic gold medallist and flag bearer for women’s boxing has broken another record, becoming the first female boxer to be signed by Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren.

Not to be outshone by the groundbreaking work her former amateur colleagues are doing, the hugely popular Adams is a fighter in such high demand that the 34-year-old was set to appear on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s blockbuster middleweight showdown with Canelo Alvarez last month, sadly for Adams her opponent withdrew from the contest only hours before the fight. Not to be disheartened, the British Icon still remains undefeated and is being fast-tracked to world title honours.

The final boxer to help lead to the British women’s revolution is Liverpool’s very own Natasha Jonas, although Nicola Adam’s may be regarded as the most accomplished amateur in GB boxing history, Jonas is considered to be the pioneer of the sport. In 2012, the 33-year-old became the very first female boxer to compete at the Olympic games.

Trained by Joe Gallagher, who won the 2015 Ring Magazine Trainer of the Year award, Jonas trains in a stable along with former world champion Anthony Crolla. Her talents were so sought after that after coming out of her two-year retirement, the woman known as ‘Miss GB’ was approached by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions before electing to sign up with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom boxing.

“Now, big promoters like Eddie [Hearn] and Frank [Warren] are signing females and putting them on big shows. It opens another door and gives women another option. I’m striking while the kettle’s hot. You’d be stupid not to at least try.” – Natasha Jonas

If there was ever a defining year for women’s British boxing, that year would be 2017. While in America MMA has begun to turn female stars such Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate into global superstars, boxing had been slow to embrace its female talent. But, could we finally be turning a corner? With all four female stars still undefeated and all four already making their U.S. debut, the future looks very bright for our incredibly talented female stars.

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