As boxing goes in Dublin, anything involving Katie Taylor will sell. Her wholesome brand, her winner’s touch and her humility at this point in time makes her a most useful vehicle for the rehabilitation of professional boxing in the city.
Since the fatal shooting in the Regency Hotel in 2016, professional shows in Dublin have been scarce. There have been few major promotions. Last November the first professional boxing card in almost four years was organised in Dublin at the National Stadium.
The rise and fall of MTK Global, a management and events company with links to known criminal Daniel Kinahan, queered the pitch and the result has been boxing has taken a beating in recent years.
To that backdrop, Taylor’s meeting with Chantelle Cameron in the 3Arena on May 20th is a new departure and a welcome arrival to Dublin. Promoter Eddie Hearn expects to sell out the venue for what is billed as Taylor’s homecoming. It is that and more. It is professional boxing dipping its toe into the mood of the city
It also speaks to the lightweight world champion’s broad appeal across ages and gender that the event is proceeding. It spells a new beginning, although the scars of the past remain.
Simple precautions are required like at the Mansion House press conference on Monday, which was entry by accreditation only. Names were checked against a list and all bags were searched on entry by professional security staff.
Cameron attended the event with her coach Jamie Moore, who carries more wounds than most. Two years before The Regency in August 2014, Moore was walking along a street in Estepona, near Marbella on the Costa del Sol, where he was training Irish middleweight, Matthew Macklin, in preparation for his next fight.
Someone stepped from the shadows and began shooting. Two bullets hit Moore in the hip and calf, the first shattering his hip bone. He was lucky to escape with his life.
Although no one was arrested for the attack, Moore was the innocent victim of Irish gang activity in the area. The shooting took place outside a property belonging to Kinahan. Moore had been training Macklin in MGM, a gym cofounded by Kinahan.
MTK and MGM closed last year with the company claiming that it had faced “unprecedented levels of unfair scrutiny and criticism” after the United States government enacted worldwide sanctions against Kinahan.
On Monday Moore was asked about Kinahan twice.
“We are not here to talk about that. We are here to talk about the fight,” he said.
In an interview with The Guardian nine years ago Moore did talk about how he could have bled to death waiting for help to arrive.
Now Moore part of what is hoped can be a Dublin pro-boxing revival and Cameron, not Kinahan, is his sole interest. Cameron, who took up boxing because kick-boxing was too expensive for her family, won silver and bronze medals as an amateur at the European Championships and is now unbeaten as a professional after 17 bouts.
She is not unaware of the size of the challenge. The year she won bronze, 2011, it was Taylor who beat her in the semi-final before claiming gold.
“Yeah, I can remember it,” she says of the European Championships. “I was pretty novice in the amateurs. I was about ten fights as an amateur and it was my second international and I met Katie in a quarter- or semi-final and ...
“I was a bit star struck when I faced her, especially as I was so new to boxing and I had Savannah Marshall and Nicola Adams basically telling me she is God in boxing. It was a privilege so early in my amateur career.
“There was no hesitation [accepting the bout],” she adds. “I want to fight the best and I want to end my career in boxing with the chance of saying I boxed the best and the best is Katie Taylor. This is my own legacy and making my career how I want it to go. It was a no-brainer.”
The 31-year-old began her professional career in 2017, when she signed a promotional contract with Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions. Under the guidance of Barry’s son, Shane McGuigan, she made her debut in May of that year. Then in early 2019, she announced she had left Cyclone Promotions to train with Moore.
Taylor represents a career high point and a respectable purse for Cameron, who has been able to make herself a contender, the gift a shot in an Irish production. But she’s not coming to Dublin to play a bit part.
“I think we both have the same mentality,” she says. “We want to fight the best and be in the best fights. I’d say there were other fights that were better options for her because I am a threat and I always have been a threat.”
She says she thought Taylor beat Serrano in New York last year, a decision many disputed, that she watched the fight with her coach and that she thinks she learned something too. So, you noticed Katie has some weaknesses, she is asked.
“Yeah, we got some,” she says.