Katie Taylor’s Croke Park dream fight scuppered by €500k security bill

A deal between the GAA and boxing promoter Eddie Hearn hangs in the balance over the €500,000 security bill

Katie Taylor© SPORTSFILE

Katie Taylor. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Philip Ryan and Sean McGoldrickIndependent.ie

Katie Taylor’s dream of taking on Amanda Serrano in Croke Park has been dashed over a €500,000 bill for security on the night of the fight.

Ireland’s most successful boxer has long wanted to fight in the country’s largest stadium in front of a home crowd while defending her belts.

A rematch of her award-winning Madison Square Garden bout against Ms Serrano has been at the centre of tense negotiations for months.

However, the Irish Independenthas revealed a deal between the GAA and boxing promoter Eddie Hearn hangs in the balance over the €500,000 security bill needed to police the event.

Mr Hearn’s team are refusing to pay the bill for security over fears the costs could soar once they strike a deal with the GAA.

The Matchroom boxing boss also criticised the rental costs for hiring Croke Park for the rematch of the biggest fight in female boxing history.

Yesterday, Croke Park director Peter McKenna hit back at Mr Hearn saying rent for the stadium is “not colossally more expensive than Wembley” where the promoter has previously hosted fights

“We would love to have the fight here and we set our stall out on that basis,” Mr McKenna said.

“So our rent was coming in around €400,000. I think the rent for Wembley is about £250,000 or €300,000.”

Katie Taylor. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

The Croke Park chief said the “real issue” during talks with Mr Hearn was about security costs for hosting the fight which the promoter felt the GAA should carry.

Meanwhile, Matchroom sources say the possibility of hosting the fight in the historic stadium are fading as there is not enough time to organise the event and the 3Arena is now the most likely option.

“May is not a long way off when you’re trying to organise a fight.

"If you’re talking about the 3Arena with between 8,000 or 10,000 tickets, you can sell it out almost immediately but if it was Croke Park and 80,000 seats you’re talking about an entirely different ticketing model,” the company source said.

They added that Croke Park is “not off the table” but said that if it were to happen “people need to move quickly”.

The Government has also been dragged into the row over security bill but, as the Heineken Champions Cup is on the same weekend as the fight, officials believe there is no tourism justification for forking out for a policing presence at the event.

Yesterday, Sports Minister Thomas Byrne hit back at Mr Hearn’s claims the Government had not engaged with the company about the fight.

Mr Byrne said the first meeting he had in his new role was with Ms Taylor’s manage Brian Peters in January where they discussed the funding gap between what promoters and the GAA were willing to pay for the fight.

“What Mr Hearn said on some mixed martial arts, MMA, channel yesterday, that the Government had not been in touch, is simply not the case. There has been a range of meetings and correspondence in the past while,” the minister told the Dáil.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr McKenna denied Croke Park was reluctant to host the fight because of concerns over the Kinahan-Hutch gangland feud.

“That would be a very small part of the concern. You’re talking about bringing 60,000-70,000 people into a stadium for a fight that’s late in the evening with quite a bit of alcohol taken,” he said.

Mr McKenna also said the promoter was worried “they wouldn’t quite get the attendance” they expected.

He also said Mr Hearn’s company got “little bit of jitters” over the costs associated with hosting an event at a “certain standard” that the GAA “would be very proud” of.

He refused to be drawn on suggestions that Matchroom were willing to pay the figure Croke Park wanted for rent but baulked when presented with an additional list of operational expenses.

A Matchroom source said: “They may be talking €500,000 now but if it sells out does that become €750,000 if it sells out? “It’s more complicated than people think,” the source added.

The source also said the fight is not guaranteed as Ms Serrano still has to defeat Erika Cruz this weekend to tee up a fight with Taylor in May.

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