The scene was set.
Katie Taylor’s first professional fight in Ireland would be more than just a one-sided homecoming, it would give her the chance to become an undisputed champion in a second weight division. The lightweight champion’s adoring fans poured into Dublin’s 3Arena expecting to see a coronation.
Instead, they witnessed a passing of the torch.
Undisputed super-lightweight champion, Chantelle Cameron, tore up the script. Cameron was brilliant, looking the fresher, stronger and more powerful fighter from the opening bell as she brought Taylor’s long, storied journey through the weight divisions to a halt.
After ten rounds, Cameron (18-0, 8 KO’s) was awarded a career defining majority decision victory. In truth, the scorecards seemed too close. Even the two 96-94 cards which decided the fight in Cameron’s favor appeared a little kind to Taylor who bravely bit down just when the fight appeared to be slipping out of reach.
The pair will meet again on November 25th after Taylor - admirably - invoked the rematch. Given the way the first fight played out, turning matters around would be the most outstanding achievement of her trailblazing career and Cameron is intent on making sure it doesn’t happen.
“I think I can’t be complacent. I’m never complacent. Katie is a great fighter and I know that all she wants is this revenge,” Cameron said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I’ve just gotta be better. Me and Jamie [Moore. her trainer] have been going over the fight over and over and I’m kind of sick of watching it because I did make so many mistakes. Some of the bits I cringe over. I look back at that and definitely think I’ve got more gears in there and I’ve gotta come back to Dublin, do the business again and get on with my career.”
Cameron has always been respected but struggled for recognition, even winning her WBC title behind closed doors in the midst of a pandemic. Undeterred and convinced that their time would come, Cameron, Moore and Nigel Travis quietly worked on making her impossible to ignore. She unified the super-lightweight division against Mary McGee and then collected the remaining vacant titles by dominating welterweight champion, Jessica McCaskill, last November. Cameron had quietly gone about building one of the most impressive records in world boxing but Taylor’s name holds so much weight that it immediately overshadowed every other achievement on her C.V.
Cameron may have taken Taylor’s unbeaten record, her goal now will be to take over her mantle as the best fighter in women’s boxing and that can only be achieved by beating her again.
“I think it was the first fight where I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve just beaten Katie Taylor.’ I’ve had other fights where I’ve won and it’s not really fazed me,” she said. “I’ve always wanted that fight because I thought that if you beat Katie Taylor, you’ve kind of completed boxing because she’s such a great fighter but that’s been and done now.
“I’ve beaten Katie. Now I have to do it again and everything is about me improving and me getting better. Everything has had to change in my mindset.”