Gary Carr/INPHO

Katie Taylor’s Croke Park homecoming complicated by lawsuits and backups

Promoter Eddie Hearn on the Amanda Serrano rematch, alternatives and Katie Taylor’s marketability.

THIS WEEK LONDON is the long layover. In the immediate aftermath of the mayhem at Madison Square Garden, no one anticipated or asked for this turn, but it is a compulsory step on the road to the promised land.

The Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor showdown was so awesome that a rematch felt inevitable. Both camps wanted it and Dublin was the perfect setting. Simple.

More fool us. Little in this sport is simple and so it proved. Instead, it is a mandatory defence against Argentina’s Karen Elizabeth Carabajal. A means to keep active and stay undisputed.

Serrano returned to action last month with a unanimous-decision win over Sarah Mahfoud to unify the world featherweight titles. For all the world it seems these foes are circling each other from a distance. Do they need each other to make more history?

Speaking to Irish media this week, Eddie Hearn was adamant Taylor will go to the mountain. One sole desire.

“It’s a must,” he said.

“The fact that she’s never boxed in Ireland before (as a pro) obviously means it’s a must for us, but I want to do it in Croke Park.

“I don’t just want to go back to the 3Arena. We could have done this fight in the 3Arena, but we want that moment at Croke Park and to do that really we need an Amanda Serrano or a big name of that ilk.

“For us now it’s a lot more positive now with Amanda Serrano and hopefully if Katie’s triumphant at the weekend we can move forward and try to make that fight.”

Here is where the fighter and promoter are ever so slightly at odds. Hearn feels there are only a few fights that will guarantee a sell-out. A lawsuit between Hearn and Most Valuable Promotions’ Jake Paul continues to churn away in the background.

The latest noise from the Puerto Rican puncher’s camp suggested the wait could reach until 2024. Suddenly, this seems an erratic foundation to rest the entire hopes of a homecoming on.

katie-taylor-with-her-dad-pete Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

Taylor, for her part, has used media duties this week to stress it does not have to be Serrano. The destination is all important. The company less so.

“Obviously, I would love to have that big homecoming fight,” she said this week.

“We were in talks with Croke Park over the past few months and it looks like it can easily happen.

“So, that is an amazing thought for me to actually have a homecoming fight in Croke Park, the biggest stadium in the country with 80,000 people. That is a huge mega event. It could possibly be the biggest event in women’s boxing history so far.”

Earlier this month, Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall recorded the highest overall viewership in women’s boxing history on 15 October when over two million tuned in to watch their long-awaited bout. A Taylor-Serrano rematch would be an equally-intriguing matchup, though it is not the be-all and end-all. 

On Friday, she weighed in at 134lbs 2ozs. On Saturday, she steps into the ring against the undefeated Carabajal. Take care of business and it is back to breaking new ground, with or without her last rival.    

“It takes two to tango but I think there is no shortage of big fights out there – it doesn’t have to be Amanda Serrano. There are a lot of big fights for me out there.”

A possible option is the bright lights of Las Vegas, which she adds is on the bucket list. In the meantime, Hearn has started to survey the hall in search of another dance partner.

The winner of next week’s bout between Jessica McCaskill and Chantelle Cameron in Abu Dhabi is one possibility for the lightweight.  

“If McCaskill against Cameron is a Taylor-Serrano / Shields-Marshall next week, maybe that fight becomes big enough to do at Croke Park,” the promoter explained. 

“You got other MMA fighters that could crossover, whether that’s Holly Holm or Cris Cyborg, or Alycia Baumgardner, but for me as a promoter the one that puts it on the line when you go into a stadium of that size, the one that I feel most comfortable with and the one that deserves that platform is Taylor-Serrano two.

“I feel like Jessica McCaskill has never really had the credit in terms of what she’s achieved.

“She fought Katie Taylor at lightweight, she moved up to 140. She won the 140 world title, she unified the title, she moved up to 147 to go and become undisputed against Cecilia Braekhus, now she’s going back to 140 to fight for the undisputed belt.

“She’s got a chance to become a two-division undisputed champion so she would deserve a fight with Katie Taylor, but so does Chantelle Cameron.

“That’s a really big fight that a lot of people in boxing have wanted for a long time and that’s the sort of fight that will give Chantelle Cameron the opportunity to make a name for herself and become undisputed. That’s when Taylor-Cameron becomes a real possibility.”

Recently, Media analysts SportsPro placed Taylor at No 47 in the list of the most marketable global athletes. She was the only boxer in the top 50. 

Hearn knows the time is now to capitalise on this popularity. Taylor has made it clear what she wants, as she always does. 

“It’s an amazing accolade. One of the problems commercially you have with Katie Taylor is the last thing she’s ever going to be is a sell-out. She has turned down millions of pounds worth of endorsements over the years because she just won’t do it.

“We’ve taken endorsements to her over the years for this brand and that brand and she’s like, ‘No, not for me’. And I’m like, ‘No, what about the commission?’

“But on a serious note, she’s purer than they come and that’s one of the beauties of Katie Taylor.”

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