split decision | 

Sean McGoldrick: Katie Taylor did enough to win – now she faces uncertain future

Opinion divided at ringside as Taylor and Cameron serve up a Dublin thriller

Katie Taylor© Action Images via Reuters

Sean McGoldrick

Katie Taylor’s bid to become a two-weight undisputed World champion fell short last night at the 3Arena.

She suffered her first defeat in professional boxing losing on points to the defending undisputed super lightweight champion Chantelle Cameron after a terrific scrap over ten rounds.

Two of the ringside judges Craig Metcalfe (Canada) and Patrick Morley (USA) scored the contest 96-94 while the third judge Raul Craiz Jr (USA) had it level 95-95 so the defending champion won on a majority 2-0 decision.

“It is not how I wanted my home going to go but I am grateful for the support,” said Taylor, who was magnanimous in congratulating Chantelle.

Frankly, Taylor looked to have done enough to win the fight, even if Cameron landed the bigger punches.

Admittedly Cameron was probably the more aggressive fighter and her body shot with her left hand was particularly effective, but it was a difficult loss for the Taylor camp to stomach.

It was certainly not the dream homecoming fight that either Taylor or her legions of fans who packed the venue had envisaged.

But it was a big ask for even of boxer of Taylor’s calibre, who is probably past per physical peak, to move up a weight – the winner could have been as much as much as ten pounds heavier when they stepped into the ring.

Taylor, who will be 37 in early July, remains the undisputed World lightweight champion despite the loss, her first in a boxing ring since a controversial defeat to Mira Potkonen in the bronze medal fight at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Katie Taylor, and her mum Bridget, after her defeat to Chantelle Cameron in their undisputed super lightweight championship fight at the 3Arena in Dublin© SPORTSFILE

Contractually the Northampton fighter is obliged to offer Taylor a rematch and given her competitive instincts the odds the Bray fighter will probably take up the offer.

Given the interest generated by the fight and the surprise results Eddie Hearn will be tempted to have another look at staging a rematch in Croke Park in September.

Cameron deserves enormous credit for fashioning this victory – easily the most significant ever achieved by a British female fighter and arguably by any British fighter on foreign soil. All week her mantra has been ‘A cool head in a hot kitchen.’

Only Evander Holyfield (cruiserweight and heavyweight) and double Olympic gold medallist Claressa Shields (welterweight and middleweight) had achieved what Taylor was aiming to do, become a two-weight undisputed World champion.

Cameron (32) was the seventh World champion that Taylor had faced in her glittering seven-year career in pro boxing. But though she was the defending title she allowed Taylor, the hometown heroine, to be last into the ring.

The noise levels surely exceeding the record 113.7 decibels reached for Katie’s Olympic debut against Natasha Jonas in London ExCel Centre in 2012.

Those levels have might been surpassed by the 9,000 fans in the 3Arena. Amhrán na bhFiann followed by Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and even though the night had gone poorly for the Irish boxing fans they were in full voice by the time Cameron made her appearance.

She was the seventh World champion that Taylor had faced in her glittering seven-year career in pro boxing.

But though she was the defending champion at 140lbs she allowed Taylor, the hometown heroine, the honour of being last in the ring. Again, as in Madison Square 13 months ago her march to the ring was slow and deliberate as she savoured the moment.

Chantelle Cameron produced a fine performance in Dublin© Getty Images

But then who could deny her a few extra minutes to soak up what it was like to finally get her chance to fight as a professional on Irish soil.

Finally, at 56 minutes to midnight the action got underway with experienced US referee Sparkle Lee the third person in the ring after Cameron got a final hug from trainer Jamie Moore.

The action was furious from the start as neither boxer was willing to take a step back. Cameron momentarily caught Taylor in a corner but was still able to escape her attentions and land a couple of combinations which might have been able to give the home favourite the round.

Taylor’s defensive evasive skills were to the fore early in the second and she landed a big combination. The pattern of the contest was already being established: Cameron was much busier, but Taylor was landing the better shots.

Taylor opted not to sit down between rounds whereas Cameron did take a breather on the stool. By now Taylor had got her jab going and she was clearly frustrating Cameron. Taylor, the better technical fighter was dictating the exchanges; Cameron smiles wryly after being on the receiving end of one exchange in the third round.

Taylor was expertly keeping her distance, but Cameron did catch her with an eye-catching uppercut in round four. Taylor was making her miss more often not and she had the potential to land one fight defining punch. By the end of the fourth Katie’s hair had become undone but otherwise the fight was going according to her plan.

Cameron had more success in the fifth as Taylor’s hair began to get in the way it looked like the Northampton fighter had finally found a way to penetrate Taylor’s defence.

The pace slowly marginally in the sixth but Cameron caught Taylor with two sickening body shots before Taylor replied with a two-handed combination.

Taylor’s decision to stand and fight in the centre of the ring was beneficial to Cameron who left shot to the body was by far her most effective punch.

Cameron was landing the heavier punches in the seventh round, but Taylor finished the round well though judging by the scoring it with Cameron’s way.

Into the championship rounds the crowd broke into Ole, Ole, Ole but inside the ring there was nothing to separate the pair though Taylor’s defensive guard was back up, but she was again caught on the ropes and those body shots she shipped impressed the judges.

After a bright start to the penultimate round Taylor was caught on the ropes but she recovered magnificently and landed three straight shots before being caught at the eye by a telling blow from Cameron.

The fight had lived up to its star billing with both fighters landing ferocious shots with Cameron’s face marked at the start of the final stanza. Predictably Cameron did her best to land one telling blow and as is her wont Taylor stood and graded punches as a fitting end to a great contest. The fighters embraced as the decision went to the three judges.

Uncharacteristically, Ross Enamait, Taylor’s trainer hoisted her high in the ring before the verdict was announced.

His optimism was misplaced, though, as the announcer stunned the crowd into silence when he announced the outcome.

Taylor has the option of a re-match though it is now probably time for her to step away from the ring and reassess her future in the sport.

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