Tayla Harris makes savage ‘statement’ with KO
AFLW star Tayla Harris has won the Australian female middleweight title with a stunning second-round knockout against kickboxing star Margarite Butcher at the Melbourne Pavilion.
It was a breathtaking result in the eight-round clash for the title, Harris proving far too strong.
Butcher was wildly outmatched, fighting Harris for the third time for three losses in what has been her only three professional boxing fights so far.
But Butcher has fought in 16 kickboxing fights and is on a six fight winning streak in that sport and has 10 wins in her career.
Speaking to GQ before the fight, Harris said she was looking to make a statement.
"I've been working a lot on power and trying to make a statement in boxing in Australia," she said.
"Obviously, I've got ambitions to fight around the world, so I'll try my best to make a statement and whether that means a knockout or just a really clinical fight, that's what I'll aim to do."
Harris was not kidding.
The 22-year-old is now on a two fight knockout streak as she continues to rise in the world rankings.
Coming into the fight as the No.7-ranked fighter in the World Boxing Association's female middleweight division, Harris showed why she's rising through the ranks.
The first round was all Harris as she felt Butcher out and worked her way into the fight, finishing the round with a right hook that rocked the kickboxing star.
Waiting for her opportunity, Harris didn't have to leave it long as she dropped Butcher to the canvas with a big right hand under the chin. While Butcher beat the count, it was a matter of time as Harris punched Butcher into a corner and dropped her again before the referee ended the fight.
The commentators said Harris had gone to another level and could foresee a time when she could take on the world's best.
"I wanted to make a statement," she reiterated post-fight.
Asked if she wanted to fight on the international stage, Harris said she "absolutely" would be open to that but would talk to her people and see where it went.
Harris' pursuit of the Australian female middleweight title was the co-main event before the Joel Camilleri v Samuel Colomban main.
Harris now has a record of sixth wins, zero losses and a draw.
Since their previous meeting in August 2018, Butcher has been training in Thailand, while Harris has developed a large following after her response to online trolling over a now iconic photo of the star kicking during her side's final round match of the AFLW season.
Harris has since become arguably the most recognisable face in the competition and even had a divisive statue immortalising the kick unveiled at Melbourne's Federation Square.
Harris, a dual sport star, has been focusing on boxing in recent times with her most recent fight before this bout coming on the undercard of the Tim Tszyu-Dwight Ritchie fight in Sydney in August, when she had a second-round TKO win over professional debutant and media personality Renee Gartnerr.
Harris told GQ that boxing and AFL were very complementary.
"Especially boxing for footy mentally is massive," the Carlton star said.
"I guess, on the footy field you've got an out in the bench or your teammates, but in the boxing ring there is no bench and there is no one else in there with you. You build mental resilience in that aspect.
"Obviously, on a footy field, there will be scenarios where you can't necessarily go to the bench, but you have to push through and I can draw on my boxing experience there because you experience that every fight for sure. That's a major thing."