Column: It is hard to see Katie Taylor turning this one around

Column: It is hard to see Katie Taylor turning this one around

Katie Taylor faces a serious challenge tonight.

When Katie Taylor begins her ring walk around 10pm in Dublin on Saturday night there will be a lot more on the line than just Chantelle Cameron’s super lightweight world title belts.

Having suffered her first professional defeat to the English boxer last May, defeat in this rematch risks tarnishing Taylor’s legacy in the eyes of some.

Taylor was never one for being particularly open with the media, preferring to do her talking in the ring, but there has been a particular edge to her this week.

Her answers have been even more curt than normal and she cancelled a planned round table session with the Irish media on Thursday.

There is certainly a sense she has gotten tired of being written off.

Taylor defiant ahead of Dublin fight.

“I don’t take too much notice of what people are saying,” said Taylor ahead of the fight.

“I’m very much single-minded. The only people I listen to are my team, my family, and the people I trust.

“I understand this is a huge fight, a must-win fight for me and I can’t wait to step in there.”

Many boxing pundits were calling for Taylor to retire after the first Cameron fight, saying she had nothing more to prove.

Some of those who weren’t calling for her to retire were still saying she should avoid a rematch with the undisputed champion.

The undefeated Cameron, fighting at her natural weight of 140lbs, controlled the tempo of the first fight, especially early on.

She used her size advantage to dominate inside against Taylor, whose natural weight is 135lbs. Cameron won the original fight by two rounds on two of the judge’s scorecards, with the third calling it a draw.

There is little doubt that Taylor is a far superior boxer, but as Andy Lee noted in his excellent autobiography, even an average heavyweight would dominate a world-class middleweight. Size and power rule.

Taylor Vs Cameron

Taylor, 37, is also five years older than the 32-year-old Cameron. Despite her impressive record of 22 wins and just one defeat, the Bray boxer’s professional career has been far from plain sailing.

She has had a tendency to get drawn into brawls far too often for someone with her skillset. For all her talents, she does not possess knockout power. A record of just six knockouts in 23 fights proves that.

Against Delfine Persoon (twice) and Amanda Serrano, Taylor got embroiled in free-for-alls against clearly inferior boxers. Rather than stepping back and using her superior skills she stood in the centre of the ring and traded blow for blow.

Many felt she should have lost the first Persoon fight and she was in serious trouble early on against Serrano in Madison Square Garden. Of course, it made for tremendous drama and entertained us all but there was another, arguably better, way for her to fight.

There can hardly have been a more beloved Irish sportsperson than Taylor. Ever since she was a teenager she has been talked about and revered.

As an amateur she won five World Championship golds, six European Championship golds, five EU Championship golds, and she was a European Games gold medallist to boot. She is also still the undisputed world lightweight champion as a pro (she will get to keep those belts no matter what happens on Saturday night).

No Irish person has ever transformed their sport so single handedly. Without Taylor there likely would have been no female boxing at the 2012 Olympics. One can only imagine the pressure that was on her shoulders as she fought her way to gold in London.

Taylor’s legacy and place in Ireland’s sporting folklore is assured no matter what happens on Saturday night. A revenge win over Cameron would add to it, but only a fraction.

The risk of losing a second fight in a row would do more to tarnish her reputation than a win would enhance it.

Defeat could also herald her immediate retirement from the sport. That’s why this fight did not make sense to many boxing fans.

As she is so beloved amongst Irish fans, there is a danger of being paternalistic when it comes to Taylor and wishing she would retire while still seemingly unscathed.

She is almost universally referred to as ‘Katie’ and it is always good to check oneself and ask if the same attitude would prevail on a male boxer in a similar position.

It’s impossible to know for sure but looking at it as objectively as possible it’s hard to find reasons to think this fight will pan out any differently from the first one.


Taylor’s coach Ross Enamait says she is in much better shape this time around.

“We’re in a much, much better place than we were last time around – a lot healthier. There’s no pressure on us, nobody here thinks we’ve got a shot so we’re here to prove everybody wrong and we’re ready for the fight and looking forward to it.

“Losing sucks. Nobody wants to be there. It was a long time since she had a loss. She’s always hungry and she’s definitely hungrier.”

While Taylor and her camp are clearly getting motivation from being written off, Cameron has her own grievance to feed off. Despite winning the original fight, the champion has been forced to fight once again in Dublin.

As ever in boxing, money talks and Eddie Hearn, who promotes both fighters, decided the 3Arena was the best venue given Taylor’s pulling power and popularity in Ireland – the fight is now a sell-out.

Cameron’s coach Jamie Moore made his feelings clear on the matter.

“We’re back in Dublin, so that in itself speaks a lot in terms of Eddie’s priority,” said Moore. “Seemed like from the beginning (the intention) was to get Katie the rematch in her hometown, probably to try and give her more of an advantage.

“Having home advantage and having that support is a positive, but the pressure is a negative. So, it just all depends.”

As for Taylor, as ever she isn’t in the mood for any more talking.

“I hate all the talk. I hate all these press conferences. There’s nothing (more) to say. I’m just ready to fight at this stage. I’m just ready.”

Taylor has always done her best talking in the ring. Time to see whether there is one last glorious chapter to recite.