Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron are shaming their male counterparts
Katie Taylor has been on a long, glorious and hard road to the ring on Saturday night in Dublin.
Taylor has been worshipped and adored in Ireland long before she won her Olympic medal in 2012 and long before she won the first of her world titles in 2017. On Saturday, against a backdrop of joy, she returns and fights in Ireland for the first time since 2016 when she fought at a beauty spa in Tralee.
She could have taken an easy fight, gone back over old ground, boxed the ears off a woman from Argentina or made one of the other champions jump up in weight for a shot at her four lightweight belts. That would have been the easy plan, the safe route. However, a rematch with Amanda Serrano collapsed and Chantelle Cameron was found. It might just be one of the boldest pieces of match-making that I have ever known.
Taylor is now unbeaten in 22 fights as a professional, she is on a run of 16 consecutive world title fights, she holds all four of the lightweight belts, she briefly held the WBO light-welterweight belt. She is the most recognised face in the world of female boxing. She is the true pioneer of the modern version of the sport, not the mad, topless, chaotic, abusive side of the business from the Eighties and Nineties. Taylor is women’s boxing, and this Saturday is her grand moment.
Last year, at Madison Square Garden, she made history with Serrano in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 20,000 and collected a payday of more than $1million dollars. This Saturday was meant to be the rematch, there was talk of 70,000 at Croke Park, but that outdoor fantasy has been pushed back to September; Serrano is injured, and Cameron was found for the 3Arena on Saturday. It is, trust me, a far harder fight.
All of the greatest fighters in history have taken risks, refused easy fights and put their records on the line to prove their greatness. Taylor can join that list.
Cameron lost to Taylor over four rounds in Poland back in 2011 when they were both amateur boxers. They were circuit queens, popping up at tournaments in Rio, Tashkent, Bridgetown and Ankara. They both wanted this fight for a long, long time. It has been mentioned, but Cameron has been fighting at the weight above Taylor. The five pounds looked like it was the critical barrier. And, by the way, a sensible barrier.
Last November, in Abu Dhabi, Cameron unified the four belts at light-welter. She is also unbeaten; she has talked about big fights she wanted and never dreamed that Taylor would move up in weight, never dreamed that Taylor would agree to fight her. She thought that the chance was gone forever and then the news trickled through. It seems Taylor had the same dream: “It’s not just Cameron that wanted this fight – Katie has wanted this fight for a long time,” insisted Ross Enamait, Taylor’s trainer. The fight was made in the blink of an eye.
So, on Saturday there will be two unbeaten boxers, both hold four versions of the world title, and one of them is a homecoming hero. The venue sold out in seconds; the city will come to a stop. It is one of the purest fights in recent years, both a thoroughly old-fashioned fight and a totally modern edition. The bookies are stuck, the punters will back with their hearts and Taylor and Cameron might just be the calmest pair in the city this week.
In the other boxing world, we wait for the Saudi throne to find $400m to deliver Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk (unbeaten in a total of 54 fights and holding all four heavyweight titles) and in cloud cuckoo land, the six-year wait for Errol Spence and Terence Crawford (unbeaten in a total of 67 fights and holders of all four belts at welterweight) continues with no end in sight. Taylor and Cameron have shamed the other top fighters and all the people on the safe side of the ropes who have failed to get the men in the ring with each other.
Taylor has taken the type of risk that, if she wins, will elevate her to the very highest position in boxing history. She will be walking, fighting and talking with true boxing gods. It’s that big, but Cameron is the most severe risk to both Taylor’s ambitions and her status. It is a great fight. Enjoy it, and remember that Taylor did not have to accept Cameron as an opponent. She did what the bravest and the best in boxing have always done.
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