They said it was impossible!
Chantelle Cameron was too big, too good and even too mean. The champion had the blueprint and it was going to make getting the job done a lot easier this time around.
Eddie Hearn told us no one in boxing thought Katie Taylor had a chance. ‘How can she beat Cameron’ they asked with a rhetorical slant.
Those within Irish boxing were less harsh but the tone was similar, ‘I’d love nothing more than to see Katie do it,’ they said before allowing the dreaded ‘but’ to pass through their lips.
Taylor will always be the greatest but a GOAT that should be put out to pasture and the best we should hope for was an honourable boxing exit on her shield.
The Olympic gold medal winner’s steeliness around fight week did inspire some to hope but such was the sense of fear the venue still known as The Point in boxing parlance, braced itself for a Bernard Dunne – Kiko Martinez-style deflation when the ringwalks took place on Saturday night.
However, within the same 63-second time frame the Spaniard turned the most raucous theatres into a morgue, Taylor, who had discussed resurrection throughout her reduced media appearances, restored the faith.
Skill, speed and accuracy saw her open up a lead. Ring generalship and natural talent saw her maintain it, while true heart, bravery, and grit got her over the line. In fact, so good was Taylor against a fellow pound-for-pound star, that by the time the scorecards were being tallied an air of expectancy rather than hope filled the arena.
That confidence meant the drawn card raised eyebrows but not concerns and the joy was starting to shoot through the roof even before ‘And the new’ lifted it off.
They said it was impossible… but they forgot impossible is Katie Taylor’s modus operandi.
Legendary Irish boxing scribe Gerry Callan argues Muhammad Ali is the greatest fighter of all time for a number of reasons one of which is ‘he did the impossible twice’ – by that he means defeating Sonny Liston and George Forman in fights people feared for his life going into.
Taylor hasn’t quite had to defy possible death to win in the ring, but she has achieved what looked impossible when she first laced up the gloves as a 10-year-old and fought as ‘K. Taylor’ pretending to be a boy.
When Ireland’s first undisputed two weight world champion first began boxing there was no female fighting in Ireland.
The 20×20 campaign of a number of years ago- which aimed to change the overall perception of women’s sport – ran with the slogan ‘If she can’t see it, she can’t be it’ warning us that female sporting success is impossible without role models or a visible path to follow.
While Deirdre Gogarty was a role model, there was no real rocky road, never mind clear pathway to visualize or follow. The Bray native has been dreaming in a bulldozer and forged a sporting path of her own, in the process changing the face of boxing in Ireland and further afield in less than a decade.
The now 37-year-old’s talent was too good to be ignored and the fact she was on a par with the majority of top males she shared the ring with in her early fight years meant, by 15, the IABA had to accommodate.
The Bray BC graduate took part in the first-ever sanctioned female amateur fight in Ireland defeating Alanna Nihell [then Alanna Audley Murphy] and took step one to changing the face of female boxing forever.
Taylor wasn’t long about winning the hearts of the boxing fan and then changed the perception of the female of the boxing specie with the same speed as one of her now lauded combinations.
Even the most staunch anti-female fighting lobbyists in Ireland couldn’t deny her talent and quickly turned from detractors to vocal supporters outraged if she wasn’t handed the respect she deserved.
That process and narrative carried onto the world scene. It wasn’t long before the Wicklow wonder woman was being heralded as a supreme boxer rather than an excellent fighter ‘…for a girl’ in the wider boxing world.
It’s no secret that Taylor was a major force in ensuring that boxing became an Olympic sport in 2012, making an impossible dream for so many women possible.
The AIBA used Taylor and her talents in a now-legendary exhibition in Chicago in 2007 to persuade to prove to the Olympic Council that boxing should no longer be the only sport without female representation at the greatest sporting event in the world.
Her pro run has been equally transformative. The Matchroom star has dragged female boxing to the fore leading a revolution that has changed the paid element of the sweet science completely. Again doing the so-called ‘impossible’ she opened the door for women to top bills, secure prominent TV time, earn seven-figure sums, and become prominent names in the sport. Don’t believe us just any pro women’s boxer and they will hype the impact of Taylor, indeed her biggest rivals will express gratitude for the change Taylor has lead.
No athlete in the history of sport has had that sort of direct impact on their chosen code. There have been icons, sure, market expanders, interest drivers, but has a single competing individual ever brought about so much change?
There have been a number of trailblazers for women’s boxing, of course, but Taylor has brought the sport to the next level, and created pathways on which new talents prosper.
So in terms of boxing, Taylor already did the impossible 1000 times over before Saturday night. She changed the sport and has been doing so consistently for over 20 years.
With that in mind, no one should have been worried about a 20-minute so-called mission impossible – and after Saturday we should be wondering what is the next ‘impossible’ barrier to be broken.
Bringing a massive fight night to Croke Park.