Sky Sports eye ‘Festival Fight Weekend’ for Katie Taylor Homecoming bout
A Dublin homecoming for Katie Taylor looks off the table but the WBA and IBF lightweight champion could fight in Ireland soon.
The Bray fighter has not fought yet fought professionally in Ireland, instead boxing between the U.K. and the U.S.
A fight night at the 3Arena had long been promised by promoter Eddie Hearn but was put off twice before being shelved ‘indefinitely’ – with Taylor’s manager reasoning that he was advised that the climate was “not conducive” to a card in Dublin.
However, Sky Sports, Hearn’s broadcast partner, are keen for the Wicklow woman to fight in Ireland and have an alternative plan of action.
Adam Smith, Head of Boxing with the network and chief commentator for fight nights, wants Taylor [10(5)-0] to box in Cork next Summer.
Not only this, he plans for a Taylor fight card in the city to be part of a family-friendly ‘festival’ of music, arts, and boxing.
Smith, who holidays in Cork annually, revealed his plan in an in-depth interview with the42.ie today.
The English fight boss outlined how “I’m trying to push Eddie, if it can’t happen in Dublin, to maybe go back to somewhere like Millstreet and have a kind of festival next summer.”
“You know, we’d have music and things to do for the family as well as Katie fighting.”
“I think it will be an amazing event; I think thousands and thousands of people would come to the Irish countryside if we could do something like that.”
“I really believe we can make something special happen for Katie’s first professional fight in Ireland – maybe bring all the belts home and, as I said, have some sort of two or three-day festival, get music – a few bands – and things like that. That’s what I mentioned to Matchroom, and we work very closely together. If it’s financially viable, I’m sure it can happen.”
The idea, which enjoyed success on a smaller scale at the 2015 Féile an Phobail in Belfast, would be a massive undertaking and Smith is under no illusions.
The worries of ticket-selling have been cited by many who note how Andy Lee’s Thomond Park middleweight title defence in 2015 was pulled amidst talk of poor sales while the last Sky show in Ireland, Return of the Mack in 2014, came nowhere close to selling out the 3Arena.
However, it would be hoped that any perceived ticket-selling difficulties would be alleviated by the ‘event’ nature of the bout. This effect is something that can be seen currently in Belfast where Carl Frampton v Luke Jackson is set to sell out Windsor Park football stadium just months on from a seemingly superior fight with Nonito Donaire which failed to sell out the far smaller but more familiar SSE Odyssey Arena.
There is also the amplified cost of the British outfit running a show in a different country but Smith is determined for the Olympic gold medallist to experience fighting professionally in her home country at least once.
Smith acknowledged that “of course, it is more difficult logistically, and it’s a big cost for us at Sky, as well, from a production point of view, to come to Ireland.”
“It costs Eddie if he’s to take a risk on something like that, a festival as I mentioned. Obviously, he’s got to think very carefully about whether it works.”
“There is no question that Katie Taylor should come back to Ireland. She is so popular, whether we’re down in West Cork or in Dublin or even up in Northern Ireland, in Belfast, she is massively popular here.
“Yes, she’s been in the States. Yes, she’s been in Britain. But I think she really needs to come home to Ireland. I’m really going to work hard – and I know Brian [Peters] will as well, and the whole team – to try and sway Eddie to come to Ireland.”
“And maybe it’ll take a while! Maybe she should fight in America, unify the titles first. But I’m looking at summer 2019.”
While the revelation of an entire festival centre-pieced by Taylor is new, talk of a fight in Cork is not.
Hearn stated back in May that he had been in talks regarding a Cork fight – perhaps under the same line of thinking.
Since then, Taylor has defended her belts versus IBF mandatory Kimberly Connor via third-round stoppage and already has her next fight lined up.
The 32-year-old will box recent WBO featherweight champ Cindy Serrano in America in October – initially announced as October 6th in Chicago but potentially now moving to October 20th somewhere on the East Coast.
Read Gavan Casey’s interview with Adam Smith in full here.