Ladies and gentlemen, we have a fight. Last month, Matchroom Boxing’s Master of
Ceremonies Eddie Hearn made known his plans to host a series of pugilistic garden
parties at his Essex estate and Delfine Persoon has formally accepted his invitation to
trade blows with August 22’s guest of honor and undisputed women’s lightweight world
champion, Katie Taylor.
Word started to spread online a mere hour after Persoon’s manager and trainer Filiep
Tampere announced defiantly to Independent.ie that the former WBC lightweight
champion would not be fighting a rematch with Taylor due to an unspecified breakdown
in negotiations with the “very difficult” Eddie Hearn. ESPN confirmed the news later
Thursday evening during their Top Rank Boxing program.
Naturally, it was later revealed that the quarrel had to do with financial considerations
and that Persoon fought for a guarantee to earn a bigger purse for her rematch with
Taylor than she did for their unification bout in New York City last June, a Garden party
that ended badly for Delfine. She hopes to flip the script in six weeks’ time, raining on
Hearn’s backyard bash by reclaiming the WBC title and flying back to Belgium with
Katie’s WBA, IBF, and WBO belts also in her carry-on luggage.
For a little over five years Persoon had been in possession of the WBC lightweight title,
winning the coveted green and gold belt from then-undefeated champion Erica Anabella
Farias in a closely-contested, foul-laden donnybrook. She made nine successful
defenses, racking up a stellar 43-1 record in the process, before being unseated by
Katie Taylor last summer in what some have referred to as a gift decision while others
deemed it an outright robbery.
Ringside judge Don Trella scored the bout even at 95 apiece, which I suppose you
could conceivably make a case for. The identical 96-94 scorecards turned in by Allen
Nace and John Poturaj, however, represent a mirror image of what nearly everyone
else witnessed, myself included. In a fierce battle, Taylor found herself dragged into
deep water by a far more experienced foe and was being outmatched by an opponent
with an equal or greater work rate for the first time in her professional career. Katie gave
as good as she got on most occasions with both competitors looking worse for wear at
the final bell. However, Persoon began to pull away by a negligible degree late in the
fight and, the way I saw it, Taylor needed to claim the tenth round decisively just to draw
even. But the aggressive Belgian pressed the pedal to the floor and seemed to put the
fight in her pocket by a slim margin of 96-94, a reversal of the tallies arrived at by Nace
For the interest of full disclosure, let me get out in the open that I am a big fan of Katie
Taylor. I have followed her journey with keen interest since the 2012 Olympics, having
attended and written about her U.S. debut opposite Jasmine Clarkson at the Barclays
Center in 2017. Taking the day off from work, I seized the opportunity to watch Taylor
hit the mitts and punch a tennis ball tethered to her baseball cap at the open workout a
few days prior where I tried and failed to score an interview but did at least manage to
cop a quick photo-op with her.
That being said, allow me to assure you that I am more than able to separate fandom
from journalism for objectivity’s sake, as partisan as I can be while watching and
rewatching a too-close-to-call fight. As much as I may be rooting for my favorite boxer, I
also need to be honest with myself about the outcome.
My subsequent viewings of Taylor/Persoon remind me of how I have rewatched other
big bouts like Hagler/Leonard or Qawi/Holyfield (the first one, obviously) several times
over the years, hoping to come away with a believable alternate ending where I can
sleep comfortably at night, secure in the knowledge that Marvelous Marvin and the
Camden Buzzsaw got righteously screwed in those scraps. Alas, I cannot. Same thing
goes with Taylor and Persoon. I just can’t justify putting blinders on so that I can see
something that is clearly not there.
Now that the lingering contractual drama has been thankfully put to bed, Amanda
Serrano will have to watch from home with the rest of us while Delfine Persoon attempts
to settle the score with Katie Taylor. Inside a boxing ring constructed on the grounds of
Eddie Hearn’s lush garden Taylor and Persoon will duke it out to determine the claim to
the undisputed women’s lightweight championship of the world and maybe, just maybe,
the pound for pound best in women’s boxing while they’re at it.
Will Amanda Serrano still be in play for a shot at the winner sometime down the line? In
light of what the last few contentious weeks have been like, let’s keep our eyes on the
prize and simply focus on getting to August 22 first. There is nothing but time to worry
about what comes next.