At a career crossroads, Katie Taylor seeks redemption against Chantelle Cameron

Taylor lost her first professional fight in May and is looking for a victory to steady her winning career

It seemed like last time out was an aberration, that it never happened. As Katie Taylor landed in Liffey Valley and threw a few shots into the pads of American coach, Ross Enamait, the mood was that the Queen Bee of boxing was back and defeat in Dublin to Chantelle Cameron last May was forgotten.

Reality will return for Saturday night’s rematch in the sold out 3Arena against the first professional to beat Taylor since switching codes from amateur after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Over almost seven years, Taylor had won each of her 21 bouts until the unbeaten Cameron stepped up.

But Wednesday was as much a demonstration of devotion as fans dutifully turned out in dozens to peer over the balcony and onto the makeshift ring inside the shopping mall. Then at the end, when Taylor raised hands strapped in red tape to signify the close of her short routine, a cheer went around as security, shop assistants, casual shoppers caught in the headlights of a Taylor workout, children, and gardaí held up their mobile phones to capture a moment in the first leg of her comeback week.

Optimism was rife, although promoter Eddie Hearn, as always, had his finger on the pulse of win or lose consequences for Taylor.


“I mean like you know Katie,” said Hearn. “It is very difficult to have the conversation about if you lose ... and I would never have that conversation with her. But if you lose at home back-to-back...

“She is a huge draw but you keep getting beat you won’t be ... I haven’t seen Katie this week but the word is the media obligations are been cut a little bit shorter. I get it. Honestly, last time she did so much. I think this time around she will say no. She will say I don’t care because when she left that night [when she was beaten] and I was in the lift with her going down I remember it very clearly. I sort of said to her we had got to exercise the rematch next week if you want to do it. But we will have a chat. But she was like ‘exercise it.’”

It will be third seven-figure fight in which Taylor, still the undisputed 135 pounds lightweight world champion, has fought. The bout in Madison Square Garden against Amanda Serrano, the last fight in Dublin and Saturday’s have made Taylor the highest paid female boxer. The rematch is again for Cameron’s heavier Super lightweight, 140 pounds belts and it is expected to be another “war”.

“You could have offered her [Taylor] 10 times the money to fight someone else and she would never have taken it,” says Hearn. “She’s been so driven to win this fight ... one thing is for sure, she will be levels above where she was last time. But so will Chantelle Cameron. Tell you what, I went up to see Chantelle Cameron in training camp. She thinks she is winning this fight by stoppage 100 per cent. She thinks she didn’t do that well last time. Katie Taylor is right up against it and for the first time in her history where she is an underdog.

“I know that physically she [Taylor] wasn’t at her best last time. But I hate even saying it because then it’s ‘oh you are not giving Chantelle Cameron the credit.’ She’s in a much better place physically for this fight but a lot of people in the boxing world are saying ‘how does she beat Chantelle’?

“Every Katie Taylor fight, she wins the first five rounds 5-0 or 4-1, even against Serrano. She’s always ahead. After the first four rounds last time she was run like a rag doll. So, the start of this fight is so important. She’s got to get off to a fast start. I’ll tell you now when the first bell goes, she will come out, Chantelle Cameron. She will walk Katie Taylor down and throw the kitchen sink at her in the first half of the fight. It’s going to be an absolute war this fight.”

A war is probably what the 37-year-old does not need. Her strengths have always been speed, elusiveness and the best technical skillset. If she wins to make it one each, Hearn has already mentioned the word “Trilogy” or Taylor-Cameron III. He has also brought up the prospect of Croke Park again in a promise to Taylor, although in May he went to some lengths to explain why the cost of staging it in the GAA stadium made it impossible.

It is a risk for Taylor to take on Cameron immediately after being beaten and she knows it. Hearn does too and he says it after two of his heavyweight fighters, Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk made the same decision following defeats.

“[AJ] won every round in the rematch. Usyk, same thing, didn’t work out,” says Hearn. “There’s certain fighters that I work with – and Katie Taylor is definitely one of them – where I would never even have the guts to say, ‘now listen Katie, let’s be sensible about it’. She’d say, ‘Shut up, absolutely no way. I know I can beat Chantelle Cameron and that’s what I’m going to do’.”

“It” happened last time and Taylor is in again at the heavier weight and as underdog. But in Liffey Valley there wasn’t a care in the world.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times