Katie Taylor won every round as she brushed aside the challenge of Jennifer Han to retain her undisputed world lightweight title in the chief support to Lara-Warrington in Leeds.
At 35, Taylor needs big fights, but it is hard to see where they will come from. Fights against Amanda Serrano and Claressa Shields have long been talked about but now seem farther away than ever.
Jessica McCaskill, the world welterweight champion, was ringside in Leeds, presumably hoping for a rematch of their 2017 fight, which Taylor comfortably won. Eddie Hearn has also announced a tournament between the four belt-holders to find the best super-lightweight. A fight with Taylor will almost certainly be the reward for the winner.
Han, from Texas, was a former world champion at featherweight. But this chance came out of the blue for the 38-year-old, who had only boxed once in the past three years, having become a mother twice during that time.
She made Taylor work for it but never threatened an upset. She was knocked down by a left hook in the eighth round, although she complained that she had slipped. It made no difference to the result. #“I knew in this fight there was no room for complacency,” Taylor said. “Every fight is a tough fight at this level. She was very food at surviving and was crafty in there.
“I’m willing to fight anyone, I want to be in the biggest fights possible.”
Taylor did not give the American a moment to settle, forcing her back from the opening bell with her jab and, while Han tried to land right counters, Taylor prowled after he, forcing her onto the backfoot. The more she backtracked, though, the more Taylor looked anxious to land, throwing shots from well out of range.
In the third and fourth rounds, Taylor was more patient, and it paid off, as she waited for Han to lead off and then countered with flurries. In the fourth round, she landed a crunching left hook and then rocked Han’s head back with a heavy right.
Han started coming forward more as she tried for an opening, but that suited Taylor who picked her off. The American was on the floor in the eighth round after Taylor landed a left, although she argued, with good reason, that she had slipped as referee Mark Lyson took up the count.
Taylor pushed forward in search of a stoppage, but Han was elusive in the ninth and came back at Taylor in the tenth and final round, but Taylor was too strong and quick for her. When Han landed a shot, Taylor usually came back with better.
The real fight would be against Kellie Harrington, who claimed the same lightweight gold at the Tokyo Olympics that Taylor had won in London. Once upon a time they were sparring partners, a moment Harrington remembers but Taylor does not. But with Harrington indicating this week that she will not turn professional, such a bout will likely remain in the realms of fantasy.