Olympic hero Katie Taylor will make her return to the ring when she headlines a fight night at Dublin’s Grand Canal Theatre in February.
Promoter Brian Peters has announced that the gold medal winner will fight at the 2,000-seater arena on February 24.
Taylor will use the bout to springboard her plans for next year and the countdown to the Rio Olympics in 2016 when she plans to defend the title she won in London.
In a statement released by Peters, she said, “It’s great to have a date to focus on now and it will be great to box at home as Olympic champion.
“I was humbled by all the people who came over to support me in London, it felt like the Irish fans took over the arena for my fights so it’s great now that people will have a chance to see me on home soil taking on world class opposition.”
Set to be named Ireland’s Sports Star of the Year at the RTE awards next weekend, Taylor is adamant she will keep her feet on the ground despite all her recent success.
She added, “It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind really and it’s been such a busy time but I’m really looking forward to getting back in the ring and boxing again.
“I’ve tried to keep life as normal as possible and the support from people wishing me well has been brilliant.
“It seems everyone knows who I am now but I’ve never been interested in being a “celebrity,” so that has taken some adjusting to.
“I took a few weeks off from training after the Olympics but I’ve been back in the gym for quite a while now so its good to be back in a routine and training hard again with a fight date to focus on.”
Another Olympic gold medal is top of Taylor’s wish list as she looks to the future.
The Wicklow girl said, “The Olympics really opened people’s eyes to the sport and the standard at the games was so high and it’s only going to get harder to defend my titles.
“The major boxing nations are investing hugely in the sport and some of my rivals like Sofya Ochigava in Russia, the Chinese girl Cheng Dong and Natasha Jonas from the U.K. now face serious competition in their own countries so the standards keep rising as the sport’s profile is increasing.
“I’m still only 26 and I feel I have things to prove and things to achieve in the sport.
“I’m constantly learning in the gym and looking to improve. I’ve always set myself goals and I want to retain that Olympic title in Rio in 2016 and retain my European and world titles as well so I’m hungrier than ever to keep improving.”
Father and coach Pete Taylor has confirmed that preparations are already well advanced for Katie’s return to the ring.
He said, “Katie’s incredibly driven and she’s not happy to settle for everything she’s won to date.
“She wants to keep on improving and to keep winning. Hopefully everything we are doing here will lead to the next Olympics in Rio and that’s the long-term goal but in the medium term it’s about defending her European title next October and obviously the short term goal is this fight on 24 February.
“I know a lot of her European rivals won’t want to box her until the European Championships so to prepare for those I want Katie to box world-class opposition and that will mean bringing over some of the best girls in the world to box her.
“We’re looking at a number of possibilities right now and will confirm her opponent in the next few weeks.”