Coronation or calamity, Katie Taylor will claim the heart of Dublin city

As ever with Taylor, her fights are always about bigger things

On Friday, shortly after lunchtime, she turned away from Chantelle Cameron, walked from the scales in the Mansion House in Dublin and pulled her green T-shirt back on over her head. Katie Taylor had finished her week’s work.

It ended with the needle on the scales striking 139.7 pounds, as heavy as she has ever been for a professional fight.

In Taylor’s mind that was the closing of the boxing business. Boxing, the sport, could begin. After a week of public workouts and endless cycles of interviews, finally, she was at an end point. Sleep and fight.

At her final press conference in Dublin Castle, where smoke-windowed, chauffeur-driven black limousines crackled up the old cobblestones of the square and deposited VIPs into the care of dark suited security guards with earpieces at the Hibernia Conference Centre, Taylor spoke of a week that tied off loose ends in a career of few blemishes.


She spoke of finally putting a line through Dublin as a venue for a world title fight. Ireland’s omission had been the grit in the ointment. A bucket list thing. After seven years as a professional, her hometown came later than she imagined it would. But, it has come.

“I think I would have felt it would have been unfinished business if I had retired without it happening,” she said. “It would have been an awful shame if I didn’t get the chance to fight at home.”

The previous day, she had spontaneously called 11-year-old Carly Burke into the outdoor ring, set up in the Dundrum Town Centre, and, later, spoke of privilege – her privilege of being able to make joy for someone else.

She brought the conversation around to pioneers like Deirdre Gogarty, who had gone before her, the women boxers she watched and admired and who had passed on the kind of memories she had given to a little girl, who had skipped school to come and see her.

“I just had a chance to meet Deirdre Gogarty for the first time in years. She was a big hero of mine growing up and an inspiration,” said Taylor.

“It is amazing to look at the generations of boxers. I am looking at Deirdre and I hope there is some young girl looking up to me. I can make a huge impact just as Deirdre made a huge impact on me. That’s what legacy is all about.”

Gogarty and American boxer Christy Martin were involved in a women’s boxing match that took place in 1996. The contest was held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the Las Vegas Strip as part of the undercard of a pay-per-view championship match between Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno. It is often called the fight that ‘put women’s boxing on the map’.

“It was the first female professional fight I watched,” says Taylor. “It was an amazing story. They were both getting booed on the way to the ring. After a few minutes, [the crowd] are on their feet applauding. You talk about pressure. That was a pressure situation right there for women’s boxing.”

Taylor wears her own pressures casually. From the early week face off, which she characterised as harmless nonsense, to the outdoor workout and press conference and, finally, the weigh-in, her equanimity has not wavered.

It was a week deliberately constructed to provoke and fray nerves, to hold feet to the fire and draw reactions. The more contentious the better, the more ballyhoo and noise the louder the buzz. It’s a week of challenging character and patience.

Taylor has never fallen into bickering, though. As always, she has preferred to keep conflict to the ring, even when the water is being churned in the hope of a rise.

Her diligence and ever-present sense of knowing the important things and not caring too much about the rest are recurring themes in her answers. There is nonchalance, too.

“Will you mind the crowd booing Chantelle?” she is asked after Cameron was mildly booed at the outdoor workout earlier in the week.

“There is nothing I can do about that. I can only imagine what it is going to be like when the English national anthem gets played,” says Taylor.

“Have you ever been booed?” she is asked

“I don’t think so, can’t remember. I usually couldn’t care less about those things. I wouldn’t let it affect me in any way,” she answers.

Amanda Serrano and New York was an engaging story but is it completely over?

“That is down to her. If she wants the rematch, she knows where I am, I guess,” she says.

On Thursday, Taylor talked about the days counting down to the 3Arena and matter of factly pointed out they were like any other days in Dublin, in any city.

She explained it is what she does for preparation and promotion and that Dublin is no different from London or New York. When her process is in place, the city gives way.

“It’s just like a regular fight week for me, really,” she says. Yet, Taylor has spent years gnawing at the ears of her team, English promoter Eddie Hearn and Irish manager Brian Peters to make it happen in Ireland.

Her efforts on that have been crusading and after the last few days of bouncing between the emotion of her homecoming and the cold science of the fight, an apparent contradiction is nothing new.

The week has been both regular and special. It has been prosaic and exciting. It has been mundane and all consuming, a living, breathing paradox.

“This could be the biggest night of my career, the best night of my career so far,” she says.

Emotions can be what they want, while the fight is a zero-sum game. The only person now in the picture is Cameron.

Playing her part, the 32-year-old has brought dollops of playful bants and chill with her from Northampton and has quipped her way through the week, drawing giggles and cleverly saying little.

At the final press conference, she strafed Dublin Castle with one liners as fast as the questions came at her, showing both a cheeky and respectful attitude towards Taylor.

“You are not giving much away,” she was told.

“I am a dark horse,” says Cameron.

“Does booing bother you?” she is asked.

“No, everyone’s been booing me back in the gym to get prepared,” she smiles.

“It will be a hostile environment, are you ready?”

“Yeah, I am,” she says.

“How can you prepare for that?”

“A cool head in a hot kitchen,” she says, turns to her coach Jamie Moore and laughs.

While she is deep in her press conference jousting, Cameron also understands that although she is defending her titles and Taylor is the challenger, Taylor will walk into the ring last. Cameron will wait.

In a juxtaposition of the boxing hierarchy, in Dublin the challenger is the queen bee and the queen bee does not idle in the ring while her opponent charges the night with her favourite tune booming out and drawing energy from the crowd.

That, at least, was the view of Hearn, who has the wisdom to promote both boxers.

All of Cameron’s undisputed 140-pound super lightweight belts are on the line and none of Taylor’s lightweight titles are. They both weighed in above the lightweight limit to ensure that. Taylor has a rematch clause in the contract, Cameron does not.

Allowing Taylor her ring walk is a significant concession, given the expected hostile indoor crowd of 8,000. The roof raising noise that greeted Taylor’s victory over Britain’s Natasha Jonas in the 2012 Olympic Games in London to secure at least a bronze medal was measured at 114 decibels, a record for those Olympics.

“All of that was agreed within a week and these two would put a lot of fighters to shame,” says Moore. “I seen Eddie mention something today about a reigning undisputed champion taking a fight at a week’s notice, agreeing the terms within a week. It doesn’t happen.

“We talk about negotiations. We had a conversation straight away, as soon as Katie put that out on Instagram [Katie called out Cameron on the social media site]. If you want this fight, make sure you don’t put any blocks in the way or put in any demands that will make the fight fall through.

“So, everything they came with – Katie is going to walk in second, Katie is going to be announced second, Katie has a rematch clause – no problem. Our confidence is that much in Chantelle that regardless of what is going to happen afterwards, I am sure we will have much more pulling power than what the contract says.”

Moore’s tone is more belligerent than that of Cameron. Still, Katie’s reaction is a shrug and a look as if to say, “I’ve been doing this for seven years and 22 professional fights, five successive amateur world titles and an Olympic gold medal.”

The expected weight disparity is no longer a contentious part of the piece. Nor is Cameron visibly bigger but as an undisputed champion she has won all four belts trading in a heavier weight division. She has just cause to feel confident.

Cameron has also hinted that having pored over the tapes of previous fights, they have seen weaknesses in Taylor’s game, most likely from the two in which she has had to dig deep to win, Delfine Persoon, the first fight, and Serrano in New York. Cameron has a plan.

“Everyone has a plan,” says Katie’s mother, Bridget, a qualified boxing referee. “Katie is not as delicate as people think she is.”

Mothers know and Bridget has shadowed her every move this week, staying quietly with her daughter in a hotel up in the Dublin mountains.

“We were afraid the fight was slipping away, that the homecoming wasn’t going to happen,” says Katie. “The minute I sent that tweet out, the fight was made. I don’t use social media much so when I do use it, it makes an impact.

“When it was made, and the homecoming was going to happen, I was reminded of the first time I put on a pair of gloves. I was nine or 10 and the sacrifice, year after year.

“Here we are, how many years later, headlining a huge show. Myself and Chantelle are at the centre of the boxing world. It is pretty amazing.”

As ever with Taylor, her fights are always about bigger things. A homecoming. Dublin is intertwined. It is not neglecting the mood or failing to rise to the moment. Despite her insouciance, it’s personal and Taylor is living it.

Cameron and victory as a career changing event is reaching for it and hoping life is looking up. A coronation or a calamity, either way Taylor again claiming the heart of a city.