Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna has disputed claims by boxing promoter Eddie Hearn that the prohibitive cost of renting Croke Park ended hopes of Katie Taylor meeting Amanda Serrano at GAA headquarters in a much anticipated rematch of their thrilling Madison Square Garden lightweight world title fight last April.
Taylor now looks set to fight Serrano in the 3Arena, Dublin on May 20th, according to Hearn. However, The Irish Times understands that nothing has been confirmed as of yet with the North Wall venue.
“The cost of hire, the cost of everything involved with the event is three times nearly more than staging it at Wembley Stadium,” said Hearn, speaking on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “It’s unbelievable, it’s so frustrating.
“People will just tweet me and go, ‘Shut up Hearn, just do it anyway.’ It doesn’t work like that, it’s a business. Ultimately, Katie Taylor has her financial demands for this fight, so does Amanda Serrano, and we want to make sure we deliver them that. But we’re so far out on that possibility with the cost of running that show, and we’re out of time in terms of delivering that date to the broadcaster that we’ve got to move.”
Speaking at the announcement that the GAA returned a consolidated surplus of €6.7 million for 2022, McKenna outlined his dealings with Hearn about the hiring of Croke Park, stating that issues surrounding who would foot the security bill were the real issue.
“So they have been in conversation with us for some time. The last time we talked to them properly was before Christmas. We would love to have the fight here. We set our stall out on that basis.
“So our rent was coming in around €400,000. I think the rent for Wembley is about Stg£250,000-£300,000 (€281,000-€337,000). The real issue here is about security costs that which we felt the promoter should carry.
“And having gone through this with statutory services and our own team, we looked at the risk analysis on the event and we felt that the amount of security that you’d need would be at the top level.”
The Aviva Stadium is set to host both the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup rugby finals on the same weekend as the proposed bout between Taylor and Serrano, something McKenna pointed out in his comments.
“It’s going to go to the 3Arena and I think that’s a far smaller, they’ve got 9,000. They’ve done some really, really good boxing events in the past so it will suit it very well. There are going to be challenges that weekend, no doubt, in the city because the Heineken Cup final is on so you will be stretching the gardaí across a whole series of events. They are very, very good at what they do, genuinely very, very good at what they do but I mean that’s something that needs to be thought about as well.”
McKenna insisted that Croke Park were keen to host the Olympic gold medal winner, even reducing their costs for the event.
“The costs quoted are far less than we’d normally charge because we would have loved to have had Katie Taylor. The eyes of the world would be on us. We’re never shy in bringing world class events like the Special Olympics here.”
Serrano is fighting Erika Cruz for the world featherweight title on Saturday, the result of which will determine if the rematch with Taylor will go ahead. And Hearn pointed towards a potential third fight in September between the two stars of the lightweight division.
“Now we’ll be in a big arena in Dublin, subject to Serrano winning and subject to tying up a deal, and then hopefully in September we revisit Croke Park,” said Hearn.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time I promised Katie Taylor we’d be in Ireland for her next fight, it will be the most sensational atmosphere wherever we are, but we’ll see what happens on Saturday night.”