Katie Taylor: Dublin ‘god’ not feeling the nerves ahead of long-awaited homecoming fight
At 36 years old and with 22 professional fights to her name, Katie Taylor finally has her homecoming fight in Dublin on Saturday night.
Ireland has been without a big fight night since a shooting at a boxing weigh-in in 2016 at Dublin’s Regency Hotel which led to the death of gang member David Byrne.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has allayed safety fears and played down earlier suggestions that Matchroom had provided additional security to the event as Taylor steps up in weight to light-welterweight against undisputed champion Chantelle Cameron.
The 3A Arena in Dublin has long been sold out and Ireland’s capital is currently in rapture to Taylor, who has been a countrywide star long before turning professional six years ago.
“She’s done her career back to front,” Hearn tells Standard Sport. “You expect to do this on your professional debut — most people have that first fight on home soil, she’s had to wait 22. Katie could have sold this place out on her professional debut, she could have sold this fight out against anybody.
“She’s just like a god here, loved universally by old and young. In fact, she’s the most loved athlete I’ve ever seen, because she’s both so humble and so brave. She’s purely there for the love of the sport and competing.”
She’s just like a god here ... the most loved athlete I’ve ever seen.
Hearn expects the occasion to exceed Taylor boxing Delfine Persoon at Madison Square Garden in 2019, but insists she would not be undone by the enormity of the occasion with such previous experiences.
“I asked her about nerves and she said, ‘It’s just another fight’,” he says. “She’s unfazed. She’s been to Madison Square Garden and, like that, this will be one of the greatest atmospheres she’s ever experienced.”
The softly-spoken Taylor grew up just a few miles outside Dublin, and has long earmarked fighting in front of her adoring public. Her homecoming had initially been planned for the same date as a rematch against Amanda Serrano before injury forced the Puerto Rican’s withdrawal.
Cameron then stepped in when Taylor uncharacteristically went on Instagram to call out the Briton to fight in Serrano’s place.
“It’s amazing bringing big-time boxing back to this nation where it belongs,” says Taylor. “I want the biggest tests and the biggest challenges. I have the chance to make history and nobody is going to take that away from me.”
Cameron may not have the hype around her of Taylor or even some of her fighting peers, but the 32-year-old is undefeated in all 17 of her professional bouts. Hearn describes Saturday night and the step up in weight and power as a “50-50 for Katie”.
“Everyone in boxing knows how good Chantelle Cameron is,” he says. “This is giving someone else a chance to take over this sport, it’s the opportunity to beat the great Katie Taylor.”