Boxing fans are in for a treat on Saturday as two undisputed champions go head-to-head in Ireland. Home fighter Katie Taylor (22-0, 6KOs), the undisputed lightweight champion, is stepping up one weight class to challenge Chantelle Cameron (17-0, 8KOs), the undisputed champion at light welterweight.
Dublin's 3Arena will be bursting at the seams for the first major professional boxing promotion to be held in Ireland for over seven years.
Chantelle Cameron, from Northampton, England, will be defending her titles in front of an arena packed full of Taylor fans.
For those fans, this will be their first opportunity to see Taylor box as a professional in Ireland.
For Taylor, becoming undisputed champion in a second weight division would be an unforgettable way to mark her homecoming fight.
She faces an intense challenge. Chantelle Cameron isn't in Dublin to hand over her titles. The 140-pound division belongs to Cameron. It will take a huge effort from Taylor for that to change on Saturday.
Why Has Taylor's Homecoming Taken So Long To Happen?
In order to put into context just how big Saturday's event is, it is relevant to look back on some recent history.
After an outstanding amateur campaign, Katie Taylor began her professional career in November 2016.
Instead of Dublin, Cork and Limerick though, the Irishwoman had her early professional bouts in London, Manchester and Brooklyn. There were reasons for that.
An appalling incident, linked to two warring Irish drug cartels at a February 2016 weigh-in in Dublin, effectively ended hopes of large boxing events taking place in Ireland.
Organised crime, with one of the cartels having strong links to boxing, invaded professional sport that day with fatal consequences.
Four gunmen entered the Regency Hotel that February day in Dublin, targeting a prominent member of a rival gang. They killed one man and injured two others.
While small hall professional shows have taken place in Ireland since then, security concerns and associated costs along with the refusal of the police and insurance companies to support any large boxing events made it impossible for Taylor to fight at home – until now.
While small hall professional shows have taken place in Ireland since a gang warfare outbreak, security concerns and associated costs along with the refusal of the police and insurance companies to support any large boxing events made it impossible for Taylor to fight at home – until now.
Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano Rematch Put Off
Amanda Serrano was supposed to be in the opposite corner for Taylor's homecoming.
A rematch of their Madison Square Garden April 2022 classic was to be the event that would bring a major night of boxing back to Ireland.
When Serrano withdrew through injury, Taylor needed a similarly significant opponent in order to keep her homecoming dream alive.
Taylor challenged Chantelle Cameron on Instagram, declaring that she would move up in weight and take the position of challenger for Cameron's titles. Cameron accepted and Taylor's May 20 homecoming date was saved.
Chantelle Cameron's Journey To Undisputed
Chantelle Cameron has been a professional since 2017.
She steadily worked her way up the rankings, winning the lightly regarded IBO world title at 135-pounds in her fifth outing in the paid ranks.
Cameron boxed regularly and made the move up to the 140-pound weight class she currently rules.
In 2020 she captured the WBC world title by shutting out Adriana dos Santos on the scorecards.
One year later Cameron added Mary McGee's IBF strap to her collection. The points victory over McGee also saw Cameron awarded the Ring Magazine belt.
A points victory over Victoria Bustos one year ago saw Chantelle Cameron defend her belts before she narrowly, but unanimously decisioned Jessica McCaskill in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in November last year to add the WBA and WBO titles she needed to be declared undisputed light welterweight champion.
Now the Englishwoman is in Dublin for a high-profile defence of her titles.
Katie Taylor Takes On Everyone
While Claressa Shields is credited for raising the profile of women's boxing in the United States, it is acknowledged that Katie Taylor has done the same on the European side of the Atlantic.
Held in high regard by fans, media and opponents alike, Taylor is humble and unassuming outside the ring. In the ring she is a fierce competitor with world class ability.
She also doesn't back away from a challenge.
Taylor has taken on and beaten just about all of the big names in and around her weight class during her professional campaign.
Cameron's last foe, Jessica McCaskill was beaten by Taylor in 2017. Taylor has also turned away the challenges of Cindy Serrano, Rose Volante, Delfine Persoon (twice), Christina Linardatou, Natasha Jonas and, via razor thin split decision, Amanda Serrano.
An impressive run of victories, yet at 36-years-old she keeps challenging herself.
Taylor dipped her toe into the light welterweight division back in 2019 – winning a world title in the process with her win over Linardatou.
Since then, Taylor has boxed back at lightweight, making seven defences of the undisputed crown she won in June 2019.
Taylor's return to the 140-pound division on Saturday will sees her facing the best light welterweight in the world today, Chantelle Cameron.
Tactics, Observations & Prediction
Chantelle Cameron goes into this contest with the size and power advantage. The question is, will she be good enough to make it count?
At 32-years-old Cameron also has youth on her side. In Jamie Moore and Nigel Travis, she has a strong coaching team in her corner.
They will have a sensible game plan outlined for the task at hand.
Part of that plan could be cleverly moving Taylor into the correct positions in order to land on the home fighter.
While Taylor is probably the better pure boxer of the two, the gap isn't that large so Cameron should be able to get her work done and look impressive doing it.
For Taylor, her main asset has always been her hand speed. Again, she holds the trump card in that department here, but after a gruelling career could this be the night that her skills and will aren't quite enough to get the job done?
While Taylor should look to utilise her jab, footwork and quick combos to impress the judges, she might find herself unable to get out of the way of Cameron's return fire.
With ten, two-minute rounds there isn't any time to waste in each session. The fight will be over quickly so making a good start is key.
If Chantelle Cameron can take the early initiative and force Taylor to come looking for her in the mid-to-late rounds then the champion will be in a commanding position.
As we have seen in Taylor's recent fights, she takes far more punishment now than she did earlier in her career. She is fighting higher quality opponents but perhaps she has lost half a step.
Perhaps her reflexes are declining slightly. At the highest level of professional sport, even a slight decline is taken advantage of by opponents.
If the fight does come down to numerous toe-to-toe trading sessions, Chantelle Cameron would be favoured across the board. A stoppage wouldn't be out of the question.
I don't envisage a stoppage but I am predicting that Chantelle Cameron will prevail and retain her light welterweight titles. As good as Taylor is, this will be one challenge too many and she will lose a close but clear decision on the cards.
This is not the outcome Taylor or her fans will want for the homecoming event, but Taylor can move back to lightweight and defend her undisputed champion status there in her next fight.
Hopefully that is a rematch with Amanda Serrano.
Hopefully after a successful staging of Cameron vs. Taylor, Dublin can also host that fight.