Katie Taylor has the perfect location and opponent in mind for her next outing.
The Irish superstar registered her fourteenth defense of at least one lightweight title and sixth as undisputed champion following a ten-round, unanimous decision win over Argentina’s Karen Elizabeth Carabajal. The win took place at OVO Arena Wembley, the same London venue (though Wembley Arena at the time) that hosted her pro debut nearly six years ago.
Saturday’s feat came six months after Taylor’s split decision win over Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican star Amanda Serrano in their unforgettable superfight on April 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The event produced a $1,450,180.60 live gate, playing to a sold-out crowd of 19.187 rabid, adoring fans. Talks immediately after the fight centered around a must-see rematch, with hopes of bringing the fight to Ireland, where Taylor has yet to box professionally.
“I’ve always said, we want the (rematch) with Amanda Serrano,” Taylor (22-0, 6KOs) said following her latest win. “Croke Park (in Dublin), 80,000 people. It will be the biggest event in women’s boxing history.”
To her credit, Taylor’s pound-for-pound counterpart is all the way on board.
“Congratulations, Katie Taylor,” Serrano stated immediately after Taylor’s latest win. “2023, we dance again.”
Serrano (43-2-1, 30KOs)—a record-setting, seven-division champ—returned to the featherweight division for her most recent start, soundly outpointing unbeaten Sarah Mahfoud to win the IBF title while defending her WBC/WBO belts. The 34-year-old Boricua has repeatedly expressed her desire to become Puerto Rico's first-ever undisputed champion, now one belt away at featherweight after coming so close to unseating Taylor earlier this year at lightweight.
Boxing in Ireland has been nonexistent for the past several years. A shooting at the Regency Hotel in Dublin during a weigh-in for a February 2016 event was linked to the bloody Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud. The Kinahan side reportedly involves Daniel Kinahan, who helped co-found MGM (Macklin’s Gym Marbella) which would later become MTK Global and who has gained far too much influence in the sport over the past decade.
That incident marked the demise of boxing in Taylor’s home country, citing strict security concerns. Taylor herself has never had any direct involvement with Kinahan; in fact, her handlers always steered her career as far away as possible from that kind of drama. Still, her pro journey has been limited to the U.K. and U.S., though emerging as box-office gold in both markets.
Her massive drawing power is attributed to her adoring fans willing to travel anywhere in the world to watch her fight. The sense now that restrictions have been considerably eased in Ireland, is that it’s time to reward those who’ve shown such passionate support.
“It’s time to return to Ireland,” insisted Eddie Hearn, Taylor’s career-long promoter. “Whoever it is, wherever it is, Ireland has to be next. She’s boxed all over the world. The Irish fans are incredible. They travel everywhere.
“It’s time to give Ireland the sporting event they will never forget.”
Croke Park is a football stadium in Dublin that seats more than 82,000 for its primary purpose. Its all-time record attendance is 90,556, for the 1961 all-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final between Down and Offaly.
The venue has hosted 17 boxing events, the last coming in a July 1972 show headlined by the late, legendary Muhammad Ali in his only ever appearance in Ireland. The event was attended by an announced crowd of 25,000, though many of the tickets were given away and the show served as a financial bust.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox