Katie Taylor brings Dundrum Town Centre to a standstill with public workout

Behind the relaxed mood the world champion faces a dangerous opponent in Chantelle Cameron

As she stepped into the makeshift outdoor ring in Dundrum Town Centre, Katie Taylor raised her eyes upwards to see a blue sky and sunshine. On day one of her homecoming fight week, the weather gods were on her side.

With ‘Undisputed’ printed on her back and ‘Psalm 18′ on her arm, nothing had changed. With her it seems nothing ever does as she waved out to several hundred fans three and four deep at the barriers around two sides of the ring.

Inside buildings, people peered down from the elevated walkways, from Wagamama, Harvey Nichols and Smash It, an eatery that serves hot dogs, ribs and beer, to watch fighters whose first battle every day is with the scales.

They had all come for Katie, only Katie and as loud music pumped out around the square the lightweight world champion performed her Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In the Dark’ moment.


Reaching out towards 11-year-old Carly Burke in the crowd, she beckoned for the Sandyford girl to climb into the ring with her for a mini workout. She had given herself a day off school to take a rare glimpse of the sporting icon in a ring on her own turf.

And so it went as the world champion proceeded into a short routine of swirling around the ring with US coach Ross Enamait.

“The public events are capped. We would have been delighted to push it out a little more,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. Nothing, he said, would put them off returning to Ireland, including the extra security costs that have increased since the Regency Hotel shooting in 2016.

“The only thing that’s been off-putting is the hotel prices,” he said. “F**k me, pardon the language, never spent so much money on hotels. I’m talking about New York, I’m talking about Vegas, talking about London, talking about Madrid, Milan ... you know.”

Just three days out from her Saturday night fight against England’s Chantelle Cameron in Dublin’s 3Arena, Taylor hopes to extend her 22-0 perfect professional record to 23-0.

Cameron, too, has ideas as she performed her workout just minutes before Taylor drew all of the energy her way. The 32-year-old, like Taylor, is also an undisputed champion in the heavier super lightweight division and unbeaten in 17 bouts.

She is seen as much a threat to Taylor’s dominance as Amanda Serrano was in the historic meeting of the pair in Madison Square Garden last year.

That’s one of the reasons it is sold out. Or is it?

“Yes,” said Hearn. “Because I spoke to the 3Arena last night. It is by far the highest grossing event of all time at the 3Arena by an absolute mile.”

How much, he was asked. “I’m not telling you. A lot of money. It’s considerably over a couple of million euros, closer to three.”

More than Madison Square Garden, it was suggested.

“Huge amount more than that. Yeah,” said Hearn. “Look we’ve got about 8,000 tickets. Tickets were expensive. We put some back on. The €1,500 and the €750 obviously went slower and some were still available. They’ve all gone now.”

When Taylor was finished, she left the ring and walked towards the crowd where shrieks and screaming greeted her arrival at the barriers. A little Katie mania in Dundrum with a trail of cameras and security around her.

Truth is with the young crowd the most serious thing that could have happened was chewing gum in her hair or a half-chewed Haribo left in her tracksuit pocket.

“She’s called for it for so long,” said Hearn of Cameron. “When Serrano pulled out, she was really like ‘I’ll take the fight’ and then from there it was just money. She’s being paid a lot of money. She wasn’t going to outprice herself.

“She knew, I know my number. As long as I get that let’s go. It was not even 24 hours. She’s won a world title. She’s become undisputed and now she’s fighting Katie Taylor. She’s well prepared. This is absolute prime for Chantelle Cameron. She’s at the prime of her career. The question for Katie is, is it her prime or is it slightly past her prime.”

We’ll let Taylor answer that on Saturday.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times