Katie Taylor confirms homecoming fight, but Croke Park row leaves bad taste

The undisputed lightweight world champion has confirmed her meeting with Chantelle Cameron in Dublin’s 3Arena

The Katie Taylor show rumbled into Dublin’s Mansion House on Monday to confirm a home fight in the 3Arena for the first time in eight years.

After the on-off swirl over a Croke Park venue and the possibility of Amanda Serrano II, a sell-out of the 8,000 capacity venue, when the tickets go on sale next week, is expected.

Taylor confirmed England’s Chantelle Cameron, the light welterweight world champion, as her opponent on May 20th, the same day as the Heineken Champions Cup final takes place in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

The price range for tickets has not yet been disclosed with promoter Eddie Hearn diplomatically advising, “from very accessible to expensive”.


“We are unfortunately leaving money behind going to this arena because it holds 8,000 versus 70,000 at Croke Park and there was other options outside but there is obviously a rugby match that weekend as well,” added Hearn.

“I think it has worked out well. I would honestly like to say that this is a one-off. But I don’t think it’s the last time that we will see Katie Taylor fight in Ireland, for sure.”

Hearn added that the saga of dealing with the GAA in trying to acquire Croke Park for the bigger outdoor event was, from his point of view, unrealistically expensive and has left a sour taste.

“When you are going to negotiate with someone and the cost is three times more than Wembley Stadium, to be honest, I think it takes the absolute piss,” said Hearn.

“We have done national stadiums, we’ve done 90,000, 80,000. Numbers are numbers so three times the cost of running a show there left a little bit of a bad taste.

“But that’s our problem, not Katie’s problem. She wanted to fight in Croke Park and we’ll work to make that happen. But what I’m not prepared to do is be involved in a fight of that magnitude, with a huge amount of risk and work for nothing.”

Despite his reputation as a divisive figure, Hearn also confirmed that a company owned by Conor McGregor may be involved in sponsorship of the event. The MMA fighter met with Hearn when he was attempting to get the Croke Park deal over the line.

“Like I said it’s not the Conor McGregor show,” said Hearn. “But he reached out to help in any way and if he is going to support the event commercially fantastic. But obviously it’s the Katie Taylor show.”

The undisputed lightweight world champion’s last bout in the capital was as an amateur at the National Championships of 2015 when she beat Shauna O’Keefe 3-0 in the lightweight final, her last outing in Ireland against American Queen Underwood the following year in Tralee.

It is Taylor’s first professional bout in Ireland since she left amateur boxing behind following the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and her second since coming through a brutal exchange with Serrano in New York’s Madison Square Garden at the end of April last year.

This is one of the best fights in boxing, two undisputed champions going head-to-head, it is going to be an amazing night and amazing celebration. Pro boxing is coming home

—  Katie Taylor

Taylor subsequently beat Karen Elizabeth Carabajal by unanimous decision last October in the Wembley Arena.

In Cameron, she faces a young opponent with a career as unblemished as her own. Taylor is unbeaten at 22-0 and Cameron, who is 31 to Taylor’s 36, unbeaten at 17-0, eight of those by knock-out.

“This is a fight I wanted for a long time,” said Taylor. “This is one of the best fights in boxing, two undisputed champions going head-to-head, it is going to be an amazing night and amazing celebration. Pro boxing is coming home.”

When the Croke Park fight with Serrano was finally declined, Taylor publicly called out her promoter with an Instagram post to get the Dublin bout with Cameron done.

“Well, I guess once I heard that Serrano was out, I was thinking who the best fight is out there for me and we all agreed that Chantelle was the obvious choice. So, we were just trying to put Eddie under pressure to make the fight happen.

“Obviously, May 20th was free for the 3Arena. I was in training to fight on that date, so I am glad it is actually happening.”

Taylor fought Cameron as an amateur in the 2011 European semi-final. But she has no memory of the meeting except that she won. Not such a hard thing to recall as she did not lose a fight in any European Championships between 2005 and 2014, winning six in a row.

However, Cameron is now also an undisputed light welterweight champion and brings her own high level of performance and success. Taylor might not remember her from a previous amateur career. But the former kick boxer will come to Dublin as a serious opponent with Taylor moving up a few pounds to make the fight.

“I have very little memory of it [2011 meeting]. But I know I won the fight, so that is all that matters,” said Taylor. “I am definitely going to be prepared for a tough night. She has the style to make this an epic fight.

“I won a world title at that weight before and it is not unusual for me to spar heavier people. If anything, it might be a little easier psychologically for me, because I don’t have to worry about making weight. I can just focus on the boxing part and not worry about weight management, so I have no problem with the step-up in weight.”

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times