Katie Taylor on the cusp of boxing immortality as she gears up for battle with Amanda Serrano in historic MSG headliner

KATIE TAYLOR is on the cusp of becoming boxing’s greatest female at the sport’s most famous venue — but she cannot wait to retreat back to the shadows.

Ireland’s 2012 London Olympics golden girl and undisputed lightweight queen faces seven-weight world champion Amanda Serrano on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

And the softly spoken superstar — who has never even seen the 2018 Netflix documentary on her incredible career — cannot wait for all the fanfare to end and the fighting to start.

On a visit to SunSport HQ, the Wicklow warrior, 35, said: “The most awkward part of boxing is the business and the media events, we both just want to get in there and fight.

“The build-up and interviews and Press conferences feel like the most draining part, even more than the training and the weight cutting, but it is just part of the job.

“We haven’t sat down and had a chat, I wouldn’t do that. We have the utmost respect for each other but we have also kept our distance.

“You won’t be hearing trash talk from either of us, I don’t think.

“I don’t like talking about myself much, let alone anyone else. And, no, I still haven’t watched the film, I might stick it on when I retire.”

Taylor had to go into childhood amateur bouts pretending to be a boy and fighting other lads. Stuffy judges and officials would rage when she whipped off her headguard to celebrate and a tumble of hidden brown locks fell out.

But her face will be plastered all over New York this weekend when she follows in the footsteps of boxing legends like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier by competing on hallowed ground.

And her first thought is not even about her own success, but the path she has cleared for younger girls like Katelynn Phelan, Caroline Dubois and Ellie Scotney to follow.

She explained: “It’s amazing where women’s boxing is right now. We are at MSG, the Mecca of boxing, and breaking records for female boxing.

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“However, it isn’t just about me and Amanda, it is also for the next generation of female fighters.

“We want to break down barriers and we do feel like we are elevating the sport.”

This bout collapsed a couple of times before Serrano, 33, penned a promotional deal with American YouTube prankster turned celebrity fighter, Jake Paul.

The controversial social media sensation divides opinion in the sport but he has thrown enough financial support behind the Puerto Rico legend that Taylor — the antithesis of the headline-chasing blond bad boy — manages to thank him for his high-profile input.

Taylor said: “I’m surprised that he has moved into women’s boxing but it must be surprising for Jake Paul as well.

“I am not sure he would have expected to be in this position — involved in promoting female boxing.

“He had a big part to play because it fell through a couple of times but, since he got on board with Amanda, everything has gotten over the line. For that alone, I am grateful he is involved.”

HOMETOWN GIRL

Taylor comes from Bray, Co Wicklow, and has her country behind her.

But she is well aware that her opponent has tradition and pride to match.

She said: “Me and Amanda come from small countries that punch above their weight in terms of boxing.

“So it will be great for us both to represent them.

“I am coming after the likes of Wayne McCullough, Barry McGuigan, Steve Collins and Carl Frampton and she has heroes like Miguel Cotto and Felix Trinidad.

“We are bringing all our pride and our heritage into the ring and that will add a lot more.”

One unlikely inspiration for Taylor is a Swiss sporting icon who has never laid a hand on any of his opponents.

But his magnificent demeanour has earned his photo a spot on the wall of fame in her home gym.

When asked about all the posters that are dotted around her punchbag in Connecticut, where she now trains, Taylor said: “Yes, Roger Federer is on my wall at home. He is one of my favourite athletes of all time.

“There are others on there, like Michael Jordan, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler — the usual guys really.

“But Federer is not just a great sportsman but he has a great manner as well.

“I’ve loved watching him since I was a teenager. I am a really big tennis fan even though I have never really even played it — I just love watching.”

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