It was a hard, hard night back in May for Katie Taylor when she lost for the first time as a professional boxer.
This Saturday, back in Dublin, she fights Chantelle Cameron again and this time it is personal. The belts mean nothing, it is all about revenge and for Cameron it is all about respect.
In many ways, Cameron was the underdog the first time, she was defending her four belts at super-lightweight, but she was the opponent for Taylor’s triumphant return to Ireland. She knew her role, played it perfectly all week and then ruined the fairytale on fight night.
This time it is different, and she will not play the loser once the week’s events start. She will start as the favourite, the champion, the conqueror. But it will probably still all be about Katie.
“I’m the champion and I need to start getting a bit more respect,” said Cameron. She is not angry, just looking for a bit more recognition for her role in the fight. Cameron is unbeaten in 18 fights and arguably the No 1 attraction in the women’s game; beating Taylor comes with benefits.
Back in May, there was tremendous pressure on Taylor and that was part of the attraction, part of the fight’s story; Taylor could have picked an easy fight for her return to Ireland, but she picked the unbeaten, four-belt champion from the weight above. It was a bold move; Cameron praised her at the time.
Taylor is now 37, the Cameron fight was her 17th consecutive world-title fight. She was, for years, untouchable as an amateur and won Olympic, European and World championships. She once went on a winning streak of 62; she does not like losing and the build to this rematch has been intense. It was a very personal defeat for Taylor, a loss she was never going to take in her stride.
“I have watched the fight, made some adjustments,” said Taylor. “I’m not concerned with what Cameron is doing; I’m only concerned with what I can do.” In the lexicon of Katie Taylor quotes, that is close to trash talk.
In May, Cameron started fast, stayed fast and it took Taylor four or five rounds to get going; it was tight in the last few rounds, but Cameron secured victory in the first five. One judge scored a draw, the other two went for Cameron by two rounds. Taylor never complained and, more importantly, the capacity crowd of 10,000 never booed. It was a great fight.
The rematch was obvious from the last bell, perhaps even sooner. There was talk of the fight being in Cameron’s hometown of Northampton, but the romantic pull of Dublin, revenge, redemption and one of the world’s smartest audiences, led the two women back to the venue, the 3Arena on the banks of the Liffey. The money was also in Dublin.
Cameron will deliver her four super-lightweight belts again on Saturday night, Taylor will move up in weight once again, and their rivalry will lead to a fierce fight. The rematch might be better; Taylor has to win. And Cameron knows that she can repeat the first victory; there are a lot of big, big fights for Cameron, who is 32, if she can win. There are, arguably, even bigger fights for Taylor if she can win; one of those fights might be a scuffle with reason, and the pull of finally walking away. Taylor has devoted nearly 30 years of her life to this unforgiving business. All fighters want to leave on a high, after a great win. Make no mistake, Taylor will always be boxing’s queen.
There is far more pressure on Taylor this time and far less pressure on Cameron; they both have a calmness in fight week that is deceptive. This week might just be different as Taylor seeks revenge, and Cameron another win. She is also determined to get the credit that she has perhaps not quite received in full from the first dramatic fight. A repeat is likely, a classic is certain.