Katie Taylor gets what she always wanted: a big fight at home in Ireland

As a professional boxer, Katie Taylor walks out of the bowels of the 3Arena in Dublin on Saturday night. The enormity of what she has done for boxing in Ireland and for women’s boxing in general — maybe that will hit her.

Knowing Taylor, it wouldn’t show on her face, but there might be a glow. Since turning pro, Taylor has wanted to return to Ireland to fight and allow the fans in his birthplace, where he is a huge star, to compete as a champion. But for years that seemed unlikely.

At the age of 15, Taylor fought in the first women’s amateur fight allowed in Ireland. Now, at the age of 36, after hundreds of amateur fights and 22 professional fights, he will be back in one of the biggest professional fights the country has ever seen. Taylor, the undisputed lightweight champion, will face Chantal Cameron for Cameron’s undisputed junior welterweight championship in one of the biggest fights of the year.

„It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time,” Taylor said. „For years I expressed my desire to actually fight [at] Home in Ireland. And because all the fights were in the UK or the US, I think I got discouraged along the way thinking it wasn’t going to happen.

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„But now that we’re here, we’re getting ready for a big, big fight, and I’m very grateful.”

Taylor had longed for this moment since 2016, when she turned professional after the Olympics and left Ireland to train and, eventually, live full-time in the United States. America has become her temporary home — she’s bought a place in rural Connecticut — but returning to Ireland to fight is an unfulfilling constant, mentioned occasionally to Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn over the years.

There are roadblocks and concerns. In 2016, there was a shooting at the weigh-in before a scheduled WBO European title fight. Dublin, killing one This led to the cancellation of the fight and changed the timing of boxing events in the country. Although not of the same level of impact, it did not deter Taylor from fighting in his home country, but in 2018, a shooting at Bray Boxing Club, where Taylor’s father Peter coached, made national headlines. Taylor’s father was injured in the shooting.

None of these things had to do directly with Katy, and she declined to discuss the two incidents when asked by ESPN, but this is the first major fight in the country since. It was slow, but Taylor finally picked up the pace to fight in Ireland.

After Taylor beat Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden last year, several members of Serrano’s team said they would have a rematch in Ireland — where Serrano was the initial opponent before pulling out with a hand injury.

They tried to secure Croke Park for Taylor-Serrano 2 — even Irish MMA star Conor McGregor offered to help with the cost — and the conversation reached the highest levels of government in February. Eventually the fight was recorded in the small 3 arena.

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„It was a little surreal to be honest with you,” Taylor’s mother Bridget said. „And I think my stomach did two flips and I thought, 'OK, this is happening’.”

Cameron confirmed that Taylor was getting the type of fight he wanted. Ticketmaster says the cheapest ticket on the secondary market is going for more than $550 and some for as much as $1,700 — a fight his Irish compatriots desperately wanted to see.

„She’s not that into fighting for the sake of fighting, you know what I mean,” Taylor’s brother Peter said. “Fighting should represent progress for her, that’s her personality.

„I think she’s always looking for improvement, so I think she’s been worried for a couple of days. She knows she wants someone really good. She wants a big name.”

Cameron understood the situation he was entering. She understood that she was the one making the headlines — not Taylor. But because it’s Taylor’s homecoming, Cameron sees Taylor as the champion, but he’s the one with all the pressure. This has been happening to her for years.

That’s right with Cameron. While acknowledging Taylor’s importance to the sport and boxing in Ireland, he can play spoiler even as a champion.

„If it wasn’t for Katie, I wouldn’t have gotten to this point because of what she’s done for women’s boxing,” Cameron said. „She’s incredible and she should have made her homecoming fight a long time ago because she deserves it.”

With Cameron stepping in and the fight saved, Taylor can once again pursue his only focus: training. Even though there is no space, everything is still the same. She still trained in Connecticut. His manager Brian Peters handled any ticket requests and Thomas Rohan facilitated his media requests. In Dublin, she does her best to treat the fight like it’s in America or England instead of kilometers from where she grew up.

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During fight week, his team and his mother had already worked to surround Taylor from family and friends who wanted attention. Time will come with them, when she stays in Brae.

This will be the country’s first world title fight since 2011, when Guillermo Ricondaux knocked out Willie Casey in the first round to win the WBA interim junior featherweight title. Last time an Irishman won a world title in which country? Bernard Dunne defeated Ricardo Cordoba at the 3Arena, then known as The O2.

One of the undercard fights? Taylor defeated Gary Barry 27-3 in a lightweight amateur bout. Will that memory slip away for Taylor on Saturday night? Probably not. But it also connects her past to her present and in some ways fits her entire thought process: her life is about „the next generation of fighters,” and that’s for herself.

This fight means everything to her – but the same attitude she has had in all her previous fights. train fight success What’s next.

„It’s huge for me,” Taylor said. “This is what I always wanted.

„We are bringing big time boxing back to Ireland for the first time in a long time.”

ESPN UK boxing reporter Nick Parkinson contributed to this story.

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