KATIE TAYLOR DEFEATED IN DUBLIN
Katie Taylor [22(6)-1(0)] has been defeated in her homecoming.
The undisputed lightweight queen brought big-time boxing back to Dublin tonight but could not bring the undisputed light-welterweight crown back to Bray after she was edged out on a majority decision by reigning champion Chantelle Cameron [18(8)-0].
The Northampton puncher was just too strong for Taylor and managed to fight the bout on her terms from an early stage at the 3Arena, despite a partisan atmosphere.
The Olympic gold medallist and amateur legend boxed brilliantly in pockets but not consistently enough to bank rounds – although a grandstand finish left the bout up for debate.
It was the culmination of a long hunt for Cameron who had turned pro under Cyclone Promotions in 2017 and had Barry McGuigan namedropping Taylor from the very start. Having claimed IBO lightweight honours during a fractious time under the McGuigans, Cameron joined the exodus to MTK in 2018, linking up with Jamie Moore. Claiming to have given up on the Taylor match-up after being dismissed as a potential opponent by Taylor’s manager, Brian Peters, Cameron jumped up to light welterweight where she won the WBC title in 2020, unified with the IBF in 2021, and then became undisputed in 2022 by muscling past Jessica McCaskill in Abu Dhabi.
Meanwhile, Taylor would defeat Amanda Serrano in their historic Madison Square Garden showdown last year and Croke Park looked to be the next stop before a battle-weary Puerto Rican and costly Gaelic Athletic Association combined to leave us needing an opponent for the 3Arena.
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In a move that was equal parts refreshing and anxiety-inducing, the normally vanilla social media output of Taylor ensured that Cameron would be the woman that would be standing in the way of a happy night for 8,000 screaming fans – rather than a nondescript Argentinian who made ‘business sense’. The enormity of the challenge facing Taylor perhaps did not dawn on the more general sports fan until fight week but, as the crowd descended on the Point Village, there was an appropriate degree of nervousness.
Among the many, many questions during the build-up were a) how much of a factor will Cameron’s size be? and b) what impact will the occasion have on Cameron? She was probably half a stone heavier than Taylor in the ring, would the sheer scale of the event also weigh down on the Englishwoman’s shoulders? It did not appear to, with Cameron staying ‘calm in the kitchen’ as she had repeated throughout the week.
The crowd, fresh from the shock of Gary Cully’s knockout defeat to Jose Felix Jr and the relatively uneventful Agyarko-Dennis and Hogan-Metcalf bouts were somewhat muted leading in but, once Taylor Time came around, they were whipped into a frenzy. Cameron entered to sporadic whistles, which were drowned out by the thudding bass of her ringwalk songs. Taylor, meanwhile, went for her preferred gospel music, drinking in the occasion, and the atmosphere raised to a crescendo as she entered the ring.
Cameron, noticeably bigger, was on the front foot from the off but Taylor did not initially indulge her, circling and catching her with hooks as the champion came in. The final ten seconds, however, offered warning to the Irishwoman as, trapped into a corner, she ate a pair of Cameron backhands.
Worryingly, the Cameron aggression continued into the second as she backed Taylor up but the Bray boxer landed a sharp counter right hand midway through, the most notable punch of the fight at that stage.
32 last week and almost five years Taylor’s junior, Cameron’s workrate was most definitely the higher but much was being caught on the arms of Taylor who attempted to counter with flurries.
Cameron landed her best punches at the start of the fourth as Taylor’s defences became somewhat porous – and also continuing to target the body. A definite round for the champion, Taylor needed to make adjustments to ensure the fight did not unravel as her braids did at the conclusion of the round.
There was furious trading on the ropes in the fifth stanza as Taylor fought hard to stem the charge of Cameron – with two well-timed counters in the closing moments proving the perfect tonic for an anxious crowd in Dublin
A solid amateur having won EU silver and bronze – losing to Taylor in the semi-finals of the latter – as well as an Olympic Test Event gold, Cameron was not merely some brutish lump looking to overpower the Irish challenger. However, skillset was where Taylor had a clear advantage and she picked some lovely clean shots in the sixth. This was only momentary, though, as a toe-to-toe brawl broke out at centre-ring, with the Wicklow woman holding her own in that moment.
Cameron landed some heavy, damaging leather in the seventh, perhaps her best round – digging to Taylor’s body and landing the better punches as they traded.
With the bout at risk of getting away from her, Taylor attempted to box from the outside in Round Eight but Cameron quickly closed the distance once again. The home hero was showing immense bravery but was being bullied up close by her light welterweight foe.
Recognising the Cameron charge they were seeing, the buzz in the crowd continued to dwindle in the penultimate round only for Taylor to light a fire once again with a spirited fightback in the final seconds.
Giving her all in the final two, a frenetic brawl that brought the house down, Taylor finally started to get the better of a tiring Cameron but would it be reflected on the scorecards.
With uncertainty throughout the arena, we went to the judges and they were split, with a 95-95 drawn card and two 96-94 cards to Chantelle Cameron who retains her undisputed crown.
With the wounds in a pre-raw state, talk immediately turned to a rematch with Croke Park once again being mentioned. Would anything be different or is Cameron a bridge too far? That will be the debate for the Summer.