7 min reading time

From The Kick to a Punch: Ringside with Tayla Harris

Award-winning AFL Media photographer Michael Willson was in Tayla Harris' corner to capture her recent boxing bout

Carlton star and professional boxer Tayla Harris was not happy the last time she met Janay Harding in the boxing ring. Whilst winning the fight, a less than ideal preparation after a trip to Bali meant Harris was "dehydrated, depleted and unhealthy" in the lead up to last year’s bout.

In the months that followed, Harris went onto deal knockout blows on the football field with her goalkicking for the Blues and fought online trolls after that photo went viral. She also took the time to re-evaluate her pre-fight preparation.

Now almost a year to the day since their last meeting, Harris and Harding again went toe-to-toe, this time to contest the Australian super welterweight title at Melbourne Pavilion.

AFL Media photographer Michael Willson was in Harris' corner to capture the events.

Pictures: Michael Willson Words: Celia Drummond

01/30 ::: Harris' eyes are on the prize during a final key training session a few days out from fight night.

02/30 ::: These aren't footy boots.

03/30 ::: Complementing her physical training, Harris attends to her mental preparation.

04/30 ::: Training takes place at Team Ellis Gym. Team Ellis pride themselves on giving aspiring local boxers a chance to prove themselves on the ‘big stage’, something Harris has already nailed on the football field.

05/30 ::: Sparring practice is an integral part of the build-up to Friday night’s fight...

06/30 ::: …as is the media attention.

07/30 ::: In order to make weight, Harris drinks eight litres of water per day as part of a water loading program. Harris went on to weigh in at 69.85kg.

08/30 ::: After refining her training methods, Harris has learnt not to sweat the small stuff.

09/30 ::: Tayla begins the morning of the fight with a stretch of her famous hamstrings.

10/30 ::: Harris and partner Sarah continue the morning with a family team meeting with doggos Charlie, Oscar and Beans..

11/30 ::: Then it’s time for scrambled eggs with a good dose of tomato sauce. The Breakfast of Champions.

12/30 ::: Football sneaks into the morning’s preparations, as Harris and Beans work on their paw-eye co-ordination with some handball drills.

13/30 ::: There’s just enough time for a quick scroll through messages from those wishing Harris well for the evening’s bout.

14/30 ::: As fight time draws closer, Cammy Liddle is Harris’ go-to for her boxing braids. Cammy also happens to be Carlton CEO Cain Liddle’s daughter. The family has been a great support in Tayla’s burgeoning boxing career.

15/30 ::: With the bell soon to ring, even Harris’ kit is ready to rumble.

16/30 ::: A host of Harris’ Carlton friends are ringside to support their teammate, including Sarah Hosking and Cain Liddle.

17/30 ::: So whilst Tayla takes a moment of solace, she knows support is just outside the door.

18/30 ::: Harris and coach Faris Chevalier focus on what's ahead.

19/30 ::: Carlton teammate Jess Hosking plays social media manager as Harris’ pre-fight warm up is captured live for her 112,000 Instagram followers.

20/30 ::: Proud dad Warren.

21/30 ::: Just like the donning of a footy jumper in the changerooms, the outfit becomes complete as Tayla adorns her robe.

22/30 ::: A massive roar fills the arena as Harris enters.

23/30 ::: The battle begins.

24/30 ::: The first few rounds are an even contest but during the third Harris gains the upper hand.

25/30 ::: But not without a few hairy moments.

26/30 ::: The Harris camp take a moment to regroup.

27/30 ::: Then comes the fourth-round knockout blow.

28/30 ::: Champion.

29/30 ::: Harris gets her hand on the prize.

30/30 ::: As she claims her first Australian super welterweight title, Harris’ mum Lisa is ringside for a congratulatory kiss. After seven wins from her past eight fights, there is no doubt that Harris is kicking goals as a professional boxer.