Cameron lands a right hand on Taylor. Gary Carr/INPHO
party spoiled

Chantelle Cameron edges Katie Taylor in Dublin thriller to retain light-welterweight crown

The three judges scored a thrilling contest 95-95 and 96-94 in favour of the defending champion.

AND STILL: SO often, they are words that bring Katie Taylor fans to their feet but on an incredible night at Dublin’s 3Arena, they were words that punctured the electrifying atmosphere as Chantelle Cameron was hoisted aloft.

Cameron’s undisputed light-welterweight reign will continue after she edged the home fighter in a thriller, taking a well-earned majority decision on judges’ scores of 96-94 (x2) and 95-95.

Taylor, who had a rematch clause coming into tonight’s bout, was relatively magnanimous in what was a narrow defeat to a naturally larger woman. Cameron’s skills, though, as well as her physical power, were telling at crucial junctures of a brilliant contest.

The hush that fell over the 3Arena upon the verdict was such that the noise from Cameron’s corner was piercing. A phenomenal Dublin crowd was quick to rally behind Taylor in defeat, however, serenading the Irish icon as she was left to contend with her first competitive defeat in a boxing ring since the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Ultimately, Cameron’s accuracy and body attack were as relevant to the bout’s outcome as her natural size advantage on the night.

Taylor produced moments of stirring defiance, and even led the dance on occasion, but the Northampton woman’s success rate with power shots was telling as she retained her own unbeaten record.

Both boxers had weighed in at 139.7lbs but it was champion Cameron who was predictably the visibly larger woman on the night. She set the pace in the opening round, stalking forward and seeking to pin Taylor in the corners to significant success. Her jab was potent and while Taylor got the better of a couple of flurries, it was the Englishwoman who started slightly the brighter in Dublin.

Taylor punctured an ‘Olé Olé’ with a thumping overhand right halfway through the second, finding more moments of fleeting success off her back foot. A right-hook, left-hook combination in the stage-side neutral corner was probably enough for her to nick what was another close round.

Taylor, too, made a lively start to the third before Cameron began to crunch her with jabs to the head and one audible left hook to the body. It was Taylor who bookmarked the round with a couple of tidy combinations, but Cameron would have been within her rights to claim it.

Taylor had decided to remain standing between rounds and her trainer, Ross Enamait, made for an animated figure before the fourth.

Cameron enjoyed the better of that particular round, thwarting Taylor’s offensive efforts and landing a succession of clean shots upstairs.

Though they didn’t especially perturb her challenger, they were enough to remain the defining image of the round in the judges’ eyes, albeit Taylor landed a nice right hand upstairs before the bell.

As the temperature at the 3Arena raised, Taylor made a sharper start to the fifth before Cameron pinned her against the ropes and teed off to her body, a conscious effort to deplete Taylor’s energy for the second half.

Taylor had almost come apart at this stage of her bout with Amanda Serrano 13 months ago. This time, though, she did enough to take the 10-9 on offer: an overhand right was followed by a left hook to Cameron’s head, and those were followed by the delirious screams of 8,000 home fans.

Cameron landed a powerful right hand upstairs to kick off the sixth in earnest, to which Taylor responded with a strong right of her own. That spurred a brilliant, 90-second war in which both fighters exchanged venomous combinations to both decks. Cameron’s shots, in ones and twos, were of the soul-destroying variety — but Taylor’s threes and fours packed their own wallop and brought the crowd to its feet once more. It was likely an Irish round.

Cameron’s power, though, was again telling in the seventh as she whipped her brilliant left hand back to the Irishwoman’s body. Taylor responded with another brilliant finish to what was another close round, but it probably belonged to Cameron.

Three to go in what was becoming a spine-tingling clash between two of the greatest competitors in women’s boxing.

For a moment, in the eighth, Cameron — the younger boxer by almost five years — appeared to have more left in the tank. Taylor’s answer to that briefly lingering sentiment was to light her up with a picture-perfect three-punch combination off the ropes. It was a sequence which provoked the loudest roar of the fight so far, and should have been enough to sneak another tight verse.

The Bray woman was forced to dig deep in the ninth as Cameron broke a bit of deadlock halfway through the round. Clearly stronger than her challenger, she was able to pin Taylor against the ropes and tee off, before enjoying similar success in a stand-up exchange from centre-ring. Taylor again responded, and she would have been within her rights to believe the bout was still up for grabs going into the last.

The crowd sensed as much and the fighters appeared to, too. Cameron pressed the issue but Taylor had more than enough left in the tank to give as good as she got.

She countered Cameron in phonebooth exchanges and probably edged a mad final 30 seconds which didn’t quite reach the levels of Serrano last year — but almost sent the roof of the 3Arena into the Dublin night sky nonetheless.

The verdict, however, left the capacity crowd floored and created an energy vacuum in which Cameron and her crew could celebrate one of the greatest away wins in British boxing history.

Cameron, cognisant of the reality that she was the antagonist in another woman’s story this week, emerged to Bob Marley and The Wailers’ ‘Three Little Birds’, which was then run into a track that might be heard again in the basements of some of Dublin’s finest establishments by the people who make it that far into the night.

The reigning champion was roundly booed but cut a confident figure, smiling as she took the steps towards a fight for which she has called for several years.

Taylor, meanwhile, had a singer introduce her to P. Diddy’s ‘I’m Coming Home’, which segued into a Christian-themed song as was the case at Madison Square Garden last year. Though the second song was unfamiliar to most, the woman it enveloped was finally about to compete in an Irish ring — and the sound which met her own climb onto the canvas was deafening.

The noise continued even when Irish fans were left disappointed by a string of three successive defeats by home fighters.

Even allowing for the fact that this event made for the return of ‘bigtime boxing’ to Dublin for the first time since Matchroom’s last visit here, the ambience reached a kind of feral level at a surprisingly early juncture of the evening.

Not even a pre-recorded message from Eddie Hearn, who threatened to fire Black Forge-decorated t-shirts into the crowd as part of his sponsorship deal with Conor McGregor for this Dublin event, could suppress the jovial mood.

There was tremendous support for the Irish undercard boxers: Limerick’s Andy Lee-trained welterweight Paddy Donovan won a solid test against England’s Sam O’Maison and, by the time Dublin heavyweight Thomas Carty took to the ring for what had become a grudge match with Glasgow’s Jay McFarlane, the 3Arena looked half-full. It sounded even better than that as popular Dub Carty disposed of a cheeky opponent to win the Celtic heavyweight title, and a similarly celebratory mood permeated all corners of the building from that point onwards.

Glimpses of Taylor on the jumbotron overhanging the ring were greeted with ear-splitting noise even two hours out from her meeting with Cameron. Indeed, even her rival Mikaela Mayer’s prediction that Taylor would emerge victorious — beamed live to to the arena via the same overhead screen — brought people to their feet.

The amphitheatre was virtually full by the time Brisbane-based Kilcullen man Denis Hogan took to an Irish ring for the first time since his 2010 Irish Senior semi-final defeat to Ken Egan; this was three fights out from the main event, and Hogan’s opponent JJ Metcalf — a Liverpudlian of Irish heritage — stirred a huge noise when he emerged to ‘Irish Rover.’ There was — thankfully — even greater recognition for Hogan, though, as the two-time world-title challenger and current holder of a secondary light-middleweight world title was introduced by MC David Diamante to a standing ovation.

Metcalf, however, proved a little bit too fresh at 34 for the 38-year-old Hogan, and the Englishman continued his impressive Indian summer with a terrific unanimous-decision win which was warmly applauded by the affable Lilywhite.

The noise which greeted Hogan’s fellow Kildare man Gary Cully in his chief support bout with hard-hitting Mexican Jose Felix, however, was genuinely befitting of a main event.

It has often been said of Cully since he signed with Matchroom that he may be the man to pick up the mantle and ensure bigtime boxing returns to this venue when Katie Taylor eventually hangs them up. The atmosphere he generated in Dublin tonight might have expedited that process only for ‘Josesito’, previously 39-6-1 (30KOs), to pull the rug from under him with a third-round stoppage that should have been ended sooner.

Cully showed tremendous heart and was applauded out of the ring on his feet, as was his conqueror Felix who transformed his own career with the scalp.

It didn’t take long to bring the 3Arena to its feet again: throbbing dance tunes tend to do the trick at half-10 on a Saturday night.

So too did Amhrán na Bhfiann at about twenty to 11, which gave way to a chorus of ‘Olé Olé’ that was likely audibly detectable from the International Space Station.

Chantelle Cameron was impervious to the hostility that greeted her and wound up making her own noise.

The early suggestions are that the rematch will also take place on Irish soil, but she should first enjoy a landmark victory in the lion’s den.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel