Gary Carr/INPHO Katie Taylor.
# insanity
With Serrano out, Katie Taylor chooses her Everest
If Taylor can beat the Englishwoman and become a two-weight undisputed champion, it would unquestionably be her greatest moment in the ring.

IN SEPTEMBER 2016, it was a private message on Twitter. In March 2023, it was a public call to action on Instagram.

Six and a half years ago, Katie Taylor ‘DMed’ Eddie Hearn and asked the promoter to sign her to his Matchroom Boxing banner.

Hearn set up a meeting only as a courtesy to a woman whose amateur achievements in the Irish vest he had admired from afar. He had no intention of signing Taylor: he knew virtually nothing of women’s professional boxing and had no idea as to how he would navigate its forgotten terrain, overgrown since a trail was first blazed through it by names such as Jane Couch, Christy Martin and Laila Ali.

After sitting with the Irish icon in person, Hearn wasn’t long reaching for his sickle. The world was changing, Taylor was clearly an adventure worth taking and, together with her manager, Brian Peters, they dragged female prizefighting to previously unchartered heights.

Earlier this month, it felt as though Hearn had begun to suspect that he had climbed as far as he could with Taylor and, for the moment, with women’s professional boxing. In terms of risk, last April’s sold-out Madison Square Garden epic with Amanda Serrano had been Kilimanjaro but a rematch at Croke Park had proven to be K2.

A Serrano fight was eventually agreed upon for Dublin’s 3Arena. It felt anticlimactic. The Puerto Rican-born Brooklynite later withdrew citing niggles sustained in her most recent fight in February but perhaps she was just unmoved by the idea of crossing the Atlantic to climb Carrauntoohil.

Hearn announced that the fight would be rescheduled but it never felt likely. Plans were in flux, things went flat and, amid the admitted madness of his schedule, a Dublin show slipped down his list of priorities.

Sensing as much, Taylor took the nuclear option and publicly gave her promoter the Katie Taylor version of a bollocking.

“Let’s get it done @EddieHearn, this homecoming has waited long enough!” she wrote on Instagram, posting a picture of herself wielding a tricolour after last year’s victory over Serrano. “@3arenadublin is available so let’s give Ireland a night to remember on May 20th.”

Crucially, the unequivocal ruler of the lightweight division also made Hearn an offer he couldn’t refuse, tagging in her light-welterweight equivalent and Matchroom stablemate, Chantelle Cameron [17-0, 8KOs], and stating her willingness to move up in weight to challenge the Englishwoman in a bid to become a two-division undisputed champion.

Northampton’s Cameron, who has sought a fight with Taylor for the last couple of years, verbally agreed almost instantly. The boxing world — particularly in Ireland and the UK — was abuzz: Taylor’s uncharacteristic call-out and Cameron’s acceptance made more of a dent than even February’s announcement of Taylor-Serrano II.

Hearn has always loved the idea of a Taylor-Cameron fight and the protagonists had effectively done his job for him. Within days, pens were put to paper and the bout was confirmed for 20 May at the 3Arena.

Make no mistake about it: this was a crazy move by Taylor.

There’s a reason why this fight created more of a buzz than the Serrano rematch and that reason is because, on paper, Taylor probably loses it.

Cameron is younger, fresher, stronger, and has sufficient ring IQ to trouble Taylor even if their encounter becomes a boxing match in two months’ time.

Hearn was stunned to hear Taylor call for the fight for all of those reasons. He presumed the undisputed lightweight champion would always be steered away from her equivalent a division above.

But Taylor isn’t an ordinary athlete, not to mind boxer. The word from her side is that she simply didn’t give a you-know-what, and that if it took challenging Cameron to bring a fight to Dublin, she was on board.

It serves as a reminder that Taylor is, behind it all, a lunatic — as has been written previously on The42. As soon as Serrano pulled out, the former Olympic champion’s mind went not to the next best challenge, but to an even greater one.

And Cameron is truly a challenge that Taylor might not pass.

The Irishwoman doesn’t think of it in these terms but rather through a lens of achieving something even greater than she has ever achieved before; rather than replace it, why not escalate it?

This is the mindset of an athlete who is maniacally intent on bolstering their legacy but, at this stage of her two-decade-long career, one wonders if Taylor has enough left in the tank to do justice the challenge she has laid down to Cameron.

The suspicion is that she doesn’t, but the same sentiment pervaded the build-up to Taylor-Serrano — the first fight into which Taylor entered as an underdog. And we know how that went.

Weight-wise, Taylor walks around just north of 140 pounds, the weight at which she’ll face Northampton’s Cameron. That means the Englishwoman could take into the ring a serious size advantage when she rehydrates after the weigh-in.

Taylor is an Irish sportsperson who for years seemed unconquerable but she has reached the stage of her career where, while she continues to defy the odds, she is increasingly susceptible to age. Cameron will be licking her lips at the very real idea of ending an era.

If Taylor can beat the Englishwoman and become a two-weight undisputed champion, make no mistake about it: it would be the greatest moment of her boxing career and one of the greatest achievements in the history of Irish sport.

It’s not Croke Park, sure, but strictly as a boxing contest, 20 May at the 3Arena will be Katie Taylor’s Everest.

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