Boxing on TV: Katie Taylor vs Karina Kopinska, Vasyl Lomachenko vs Nicholas Walters

Everything you need to know about the big fights on TV this weekend

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The Independent Online

Irish amateur legend Katie Taylor makes her professional debut tonight in London, as she attempts to share her prodigious boxing talents with a wider audience.

Taylor’s amateur pedigree is virtually unparalleled in the women’s game, with perhaps only Claressa Shields rivalling the Irish star in regards to success.

A five-time World Champion and a gold medalist from the London 2012 Olympic Games, Taylor was shockingly eliminated in the first round of Rio 2016, and also failed to win a sixth world title earlier this year.

With hopes of emulating the likes of Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey who became huge female combat sport icons in MMA, Taylor is aiming to establish a professional career which can rival her amateur success.

Whether she can do so remains to be seen. Women’s professional boxing has never been popular in the UK while Rousey had the likes of Gina Carano to follow in MMA, but she has the likability factor and the boxing prowess to entertain through her new journey.

Taylor fights Poland’s Karina Kopinska tonight at Wembley Arena on Sky Sports, while Ohara Davies steps up to fight Italian Andrea Scarpa on the bill.

The British super featherweight title will also be on the line when Martin J Ward defends against Ronnie Clark.

One of the most technically gifted fighters on the planet finally gets the big fight he wanted tonight on BoxNation.

Two amateur World Championship victories plus back-to-back Olympic gold medals have already established Vasyl Lomachenko as a true boxing icon, and after just seven professional fights the 28-year-old has already won two world titles.

His opponent tonight is 30-year-old Jamaican Nicholas Walters, who is one of the heaviest hitting punchers in the lower weight divisions.

The two fighters will be competing for the WBO super featherweight title, but most importantly each will be attempting to secure a victory would could potentially define their careers.

Lomachenko turned professional after a amateur career consisting of a supposed 396-1 record, but surprisingly lost his second paid bout to Orlando Salido via split decision in March 2014.

That defeat came after Salido continually utilised a range of crafty and dirty tactics which left the typically aggressive Lomachenko out of his depth.

In prior bouts against the likes of Gary Russell Jr, and most recently Roman Martinez, Lomachenko has added steely physicality to his ring-work, which has combined beautifully with his outstanding boxing talents.

Dazzling fast combinations are supplemented with the best footwork in the game, while his unorthodox attacking style is based on finely-tuned fundamentals.

After some criticism of not being able to pull the trigger enough, the Ukrainian has shown pretty fearsome power when he needs to, and has particularly vicious body shots.

On the surface, he’s virtually unbeatable, with a complete understanding of when to box and when to fight.

But Walters is no hand-picked fighter. The 30-year-old has won 26 of his 27 professional fights with just one draw in his last bout to the underrated Jason Sosa.

Walters was lucky to scrape a draw in that bout, but has typically looked destructive across his career.

A brutal October 2014 shellacking of Nonito Donaire let the world know the power and panache he possesses, but it’s the manner of his victories which are most impressive.

At the lower weight classes, power is a sought after attribute, and Walters uses his gift sensibly. He typically doesn’t just look for the knockout, he’s happy to scope out opponents first before unleashing the big shots.

Unfortunately for Walters, he’s coming up against a defensive master tonight in Vegas who makes Paulo Maldini look like Paul Scholes.

Anything Walters can offer, Lomachenko can match or better. His movement is better, his tactical knowledge is better, and he can stun with his own shots.

If Walters can hurt Lomachenko early, there is the possibility of a competitive fight, but expect a confident performance from the Ukrainian maestro, who has the potential to stop an exasperated Walters late.

There is more boxing on tonight from Cardiff, as Terry Flanagan defends his WBO lightweight title against 35-year-old Orlando Cruz.

The undefeated Flanagan has fought an uninspiring line-up of opponents since winning his world title against Jose Zepeda last year, and Cruz is another average name to add to that last.

Cruz is seeking to become the first openly gay boxer to win a world tighters, but his credentials don’t leave a great deal to be enthused by.

Five wins in a row against average opposition in Florida only mask a career which has seen him lose every time he’s stepped up in competition, and Cruz has never had a meaningful fight at lightweight before.

This is simply another boxing publicity stunt which has not succeeded in its goal to create a talking point, so instead it’s another dull world title defence which does nothing to advance the sport.

Liam Williams was supposed to headline this show, but an injury to initial opponent Ahmet Patterson means he will now fight Gabor Gorbics in a keep busy fight.

Elsewhere, Thomas Stalker and Craig Evans complete a trilogy after two previous draws, while Tommy Langford fights Sam Sheedy for the vacant British middleweight title.