Boxing

Katie Taylor's Coach Tells Us What We All Got Wrong About Her Last Fight

Katie Taylor's Coach Tells Us What We All Got Wrong About Her Last Fight

"Katie Taylor just wobbled for the first real time as a pro!"

'Katie Taylor overcomes scare to retain WBA lightweight title.'

'McCaskill kept coming, and rocked Taylor for one of the few times in her professional career in the sixth.'

'The tide began to turn in the second half of the fight as McCaskill began turning into a bit of a brawl. A huge left hand from McCaskill wobbled Taylor midway through the sixth round.'

In the midst of Katie Taylor's successful defence of her world title, a swinging Jessica McCaskill left hand seemed to rock the Bray boxer and set her off her feet. The commentary - as evident above - barked in shock and a large swath of the media reported it as fact. As the following video shows, Taylor had been caught.

Or so we thought.

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That narrative was similarly reported in this very publication. A "huge left hand" had snagged Taylor's chin, but she had the wherewithal to "overcome the blow." We were all wrong. Her coach, Ross Enamait, is the ideal companion to talk you through the fight.

After the punch lands and she gets off balance, she immediately regains her balance and avoids the next punch. McCaskill loads the right hand and Katie slips under. Someone who is really hurt, they don’t skip the next punch. As bad as it looked to some people in real time, if you actually look at what happened, McCaskill hit her with a good shot and you have to give her credit, but Katie was off balance before she even got hit - their feet collide. The fact she recovered balance so quickly shows she wasn’t that hurt.

What's more, he can prove it to you.

You see her head go back but looking back at it, it wasn't nearly as bad as you might have thought in real time. You need the replay of the in-between rounds camera, the live camera doesn’t show the legs. Between the sixth and seventh round.

Prior to the first round, the atmosphere steadily rose as York Hall prepared for the main event. The ring was an array of bodies, flanked by the star bangled banner and the tri-colour. Both boxers danced excitedly on their toes, McCaskill’s corner held a belt aloft and incessantly applauded. Ross Enamait stood still opposite them, gently nodding his head.

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I didn’t want to make it a brawl. why brawl with a brawler? That’s their only option. McCaskill would have done anything to fight in a phonebooth, she was going to have to earn that landscape by getting in close, but she doesn’t have the fastest feet so she had a hard time. She was just loading up for a big shot she couldn’t find.

The Connecticut-based coach speaks about boxing's intricacies with a forthright passion. Repeated broken hands denied him a prolonged fighting career. If he couldn't be the best boxer, he was sure as hell going to try and be the best coach.

McCaskill's camp has made some noise in the aftermath of the fight about Taylor's style. Enamait pays due credit to Taylor's last opponent and is reluctant to get into a war of words, but he isn't shy about refuting their criticism either.

To say she tries to score points wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of the year. It depends on who is in front of you. When you have a power puncher like McCaskill, you’re not going to sit there and trade bombs trying to get a knock-out, it’s boxing at the end of the day. It depends on the style in front of you.

That’s one thing good about Katie. She’s got options; she’s not just a puncher or a pure boxer, she can mix it up. She can fight inside, she can move on her toes, which allows her to adapt to a lot of different styles. Her amateur background helps. She fought everybody, she been in there with brawlers, pure boxers, tall fighters, short fighters. She can fight just about everybody.

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Enamait is meticulous in his approach to coaching. No stone is left unturned. He knew precisely what Taylor needed to utilise during the fight, and ensured she deployed it over and over again.

Her spinout hooks, they had absolutely no answer for. They had never seen it before, didn’t know what to do. So they weren’t really giving her any instructions as far as cutting the ring off, it was just 'go out there and try land a right hand' that she couldn’t find. Even the best punch she landed in the sixth round was the left hook, she never really landed the right hand!

We had worked on both spin-out with the left and the right. She landed both of them repeatedly, McCaskill was open from both sides, either she swings wildly with the right hand, so we’re spinning out with the left hook, or she’s lazy with the right hand so we’re spinning out from the right side.

It happened over and over again during the bout. McCaskill shaped to throw a right, Taylor landed a spin-out left and moved.

I told Katie mid-way through if they’re not adjusting don’t change it it keeps working. They didn’t have an adjustment for it, other than come forward and try land a big shot.

August 2016. Mira Potkonen's hand is raised aloft in the air, Taylor's remains by her sides. A shocking opening round loss for the defending champion. At that very moment, Taylor's face bore an expression we haven't seen since. There is no rage, no perceivable action that could be interrupted as anger. Hers was a face that epitomised one pure emotion, utter disappointment.

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Taylor sought out Enamait in the aftermath, initially just to try something different.

When she first come over, she was fresh out of the amateurs. She really was a touch and move, so she is evolving as far as going to the body. You won’t see a lot of body work in the amateurs because of the points system but if you look at her professional fights she actually goes to the body very well, we didn’t go to the body a tonne with McCaskill because I didn’t want to be sitting inside with her. You get inside and start ripping the body, you’re opening yourself up for counters and it was one of those fights where it wasn’t all that necessary.

A boxer's arsenal is manufactured in the gym. With Taylor, Enamait has manufactured a ferocious body shot.

I mean she has expanded on it. For working on the body, it’s something you work on with the pads, only using a body shield. It’s something then you go out and try to implement it during sparring. So we took a round, where maybe we only box inside the whole round and try work the body. It’s reinforced on the bag, ripping the bag and then an uppercut bag. It’s a step by step process it’s one we’ve taken to and done very well.

The fruit of their hard work came when Katie dropped Anahi Sanchez with a huge left body-shot during her world title win. For Enamuit, it was encouragingly similar to the shot landed during one of the greatest rounds in boxing, a fight he remembers vividly as it took place in his hometown. Mickey Ward v Arturo Gatti, Connecticut, 2002.

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It was great, I was shocked that she got up. Y'know, it reminded me of when Gatti got up from the left hook by Mickey Ward, it was a nine-count too. She was obviously tough as nails, a lot of girls stay down after a shot like that, she got hit right on the button!

It is certainly a very similar combination, back-to-back lefts that abide to the oldest trick in the book: Head, then body. You can watch the comparison below:

It's been a fast 2017 but a picture is emerging of the potential Katie Taylor has as a professional.

Sanchez was tough as they come. McCaskill was another tough opponent, at the end of the day being tough isn’t enough. That’s where Katie has a big advantage over a lot of girls, she’s just got a skill-set they don’t have and even her athleticism alone is going to put her ahead, as far as footspeed and hand-speed.

She’s excellent. She does a lot of good things, obviously, she is continuing to improve. She listens, she makes adjustments, she's willing to try anything in the gym. As well as she has gone, from a professional standpoint, it is only the beginning. She has been a pro for over a year, she's going to continue to improve. It's why fights like the last one are really important. We got ten rounds, that is two in-a-row we got ten rounds. You can't get that kind of experience, you can’t get it in the gym. It's different, from going out there and sparring to get ten rounds in under the bright lights.

That's huge, really huge.

At this rate, it's hard to see how 2018 won't be too.

Maurice Brosnan

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