Katie Taylor is the best pound-for-pound fighter in women’s boxing

I said what I said… Katie Taylor, the new undisputed super lightweight champ, is the best.

While I know that not everyone will agree with me on my choice for pound-for-pound queen, opting instead for the great Claressa Shields, I feel compelled to state my case for Taylor.

I was almost convinced that the sand had run out of Taylor’s hourglass and that Chantelle Cameron was too much for her. In their first fight, in May, the Irish hero looked out of her depth physically and Cameron simply walked her down. Taylor’s punches bounced off the Northampton-born fighter, who was more effective and resilient throughout. While the result was a majority decision defeat, Cameron had unequivocally been the better fighter.

MORE: Katie Taylor avenges loss to Chantelle Cameron with points win

Determined to claim revenge, Taylor had confirmed to Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn her intent on exercising a contractual rematch before she’d even left the arena that night. The decision was typical of Taylor, who is a warrior to the core, but many of us questioned the wisdom of the 37-year-old technician and felt that she was now in decline.

Well, many of us ended up with egg on our faces last night and the yolk was coloured green, white, and orange. Oozing motivation to fulfil her dream of finally becoming a double undisputed champion, Taylor switched up the game plan and found a way. The challenger was harder to hit, more accurate with her own work, and she was switched on throughout. One could argue that her 10-round majority decision triumph was a career-best performance, and it’s only threatened by her sensational points win over Amanda Serrano in April 2022.

She was brilliant.

Keeping things real, however, Taylor was made to earn this victory and had one or two pieces of luck. First, a rocket jab from Cameron in the opening round put Taylor over but was ruled no knockdown by referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. Also, Cameron came out the worse for wear from accidental head clashes, one of which opened a deep cut on the champion’s forehead in Round 3. As well as that, Taylor was guilty of holding and was never seriously admonished. With all that said, the Bray native did what she had to do to win. She’s not an official.

So why do I believe that Taylor deserves the pound-for-pound thrown over Shields? Well, it’s the resume. Since turning professional in November 2016, the former Olympic champ has posted wins over Jessica McCaskill, Delfine Persoon (twice), Natasha Jonas, Amanda Serrano, and Cameron. Now, there are close wins in there, and in terms of Persoon, one very controversial one. However, that is still a remarkable set of results. Every one of those fighters is or has been pound-for-pound rated. Never mind the fact that Shields can’t match Taylor’s CV, you’ll struggle to find an active male fighter who can. Maybe Canelo is the only one that can put forth an argument.

My colleague Andreas Hale – whose opinion is always respected – isn’t buying Taylor over Shields and I get it. Our Senior Combat Writer feels that regardless of Taylor’s successful revenge mission, she still suffered a loss at the hands of Cameron. Meanwhile, Shields has an unblemished record. All well and good, but for my money, when a fighter learns from a loss, adapts, and then turns things around, that’s a positive in legacy terms, not a minus.

MORE: What’s next for Katie Taylor? Cameron 3 or Serrano 2?

Shields is an all-time great whose pound-for-pound status mirrors that of Roy Jones Jr. in the early 2000s. Like Jones, multiple world titles at different weights, performance level, and ring domination is what has taken Shields to the top in women’s boxing. However, Jones was frequently usurped on pound-for-pound lists by the likes of Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, and Bernard Hopkins. Why? Because these guys were winning career-defining fights, whereas, Jones, for long periods of his career was not.

Right now, Shields isn’t very active in boxing, and there’s talk of the Flint, Michigan, superstar returning to MMA. That probably comes down to a lack of lucrative challenges between middleweight and super middleweight. Outside of Savannah Marshall, who she’s already outpointed, there are simply no top-tier opponents in either of these divisions to test Shields. How can you prove how good you are when there’s no one there to prove it against? Obviously, this isn’t Shields’ fault, but it’s reality.

Boxing, like life, can be unfair.

Editor’s Note: This is an individual opinion and does not reflect the thoughts of The Sporting News combat team.

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