All these years down the line, Katie Taylor is no closer to curing her allergy to the hype game. On a flying visit to Dublin to gin up ticket sales for her rematch against Chantelle Cameron, she still carries out her duties here with the sort of enthusiasm the rest of us keep for visits to the dentist. “I’m pretty single-minded once a camp starts,” she remarks, as an opener. “To be honest, I find the camp easier than these press conferences.”
As well she should. She was born to box, not to bluster and swank about off the back of it. We’re here because she lost for the first time as a professional back in May, coughing up the decision to Cameron as the air went out of the Dublin night. On the comeback trail now, she’s no fool. A win against Cameron in the 3Arena in November keeps plenty of doors open. Another defeat though?
“Who knows?” she replies. “I’ll take it one fight at a time, I just want to be involved in the biggest fights in women’s boxing. People asked me: ‘What was it like to lose your zero?’ I wasn’t overly concerned with losing it. I was extremely disappointed to lose but not because I lost my zero it was because I lost.
“You have to look at my career – my goal was to be involved in the biggest fights, it wasn’t to retire with a zero. I just want to be involved in the biggest fights possible in the sport. I want to be involved in history-making fights.”
After a bit, Eddie Hearn walks in and takes his seat beside her on the sofa. Eddie has never been burdened with his fighter’s modesty. He’s here to sell the fight and cares deeply that everyone knows about it. Cameron’s camp aren’t one bit happy about having to come back to Dublin to fulfil the fixture. Eddie? He reckons they’ll be happy enough when the cheque clears.
“Yeah probably,” he shrugs when asked if it would have been fairer on Cameron to have the rematch on neutral ground. “I mean I think you always have to look at the numbers and we do a huge gate here which we did last time. Both fighters are doing very well out at the event and I think that’s important.
“I feel like Chantelle has a right after that first win to say, ‘Why should I go back to Dublin?’ Really, I think she was right to question that. But at the end of the day we’ve got to make the numbers work.
“I think you can say [Katie’s] career is up for grabs in this fight. So Chantelle knows what a competitor Katie is and if her career is on the line she’s going to give it everything.”
For Cameron, the win in May lifted her on to a different level in the sport. You dirty up Katie Taylor’s spotless record and nobody underestimates you any more. She had to get up at 5.30 this morning to catch the flight to Dublin for this. All of it goes into the pot, little scraps of irritation at being made to feel like a gatecrasher once again.
“The first time I was very nervous. Coming to Dublin, fighting Katie in her homecoming. I have confidence now because I have done it. Now I’ve got to make sure I come and do the job again but in better fashion. The judges were very fair the last time and I’m hoping I get that sort of treatment again.
“I’m confident. I’m never overconfident. You can’t be, it’s boxing. I’m never complacent either. I’ve got to come and prove a massive point again. I’d rather it wasn’t in Dublin. I wanted it to be on neutral ground. So I’ve got a bit more spite in me, something to prove. It’s lit a fire in me that wasn’t there the last time.”
Ultimately, she knows the game. When she got the decision in May, the boos rained down from the home crowd. But she knew not to take it personally. They weren’t booing her, they were booing the person who beat Katie Taylor.
As for Katie, she’s under no illusions either. She turned 37 in July and though she mock-bristles when she’s asked if she considered retirement after losing in May – “Don’t insult me ...” – she knows what’s at stake.
“Every fight is a must-win fight. This fight is no different. Certainly another loss makes becoming a two weight undisputed champion very difficult. So I know this fight really matters for my career. I love these kind of fights. I love being in these kind of pressure situations.”