BY KEN DOHERTY
What a gladiator Katie Taylor is. Few, if any, outside of her close circle gave her any chance in last Saturday night’s fight against Chantelle Cameron in the 3 Arena in front of 10,000 or so fans but by the end of the fight, all you could do was marvel at the talent and tenacity of this Irish hero of heroes.
Since then I’ve been going through all our great sporting stars from Ronnie Delaney to Michael Carruth to Pádraig Harrington to Sonia O’Sullivan and really I think her Olympic gold and now these two weight world championship belts means she is top of the pile.
That is an argument for another day perhaps but there was no disputing the verdict on Saturday. Except for that odd judge who gave it as a draw, I think everyone inside the arena, including it must be said a gracious loser, knew who the boss was on the night.
The disadvantage for me based in England is that I can’t get to these big Dublin occasions as much as I would love to. I watched it on television live and when the commentators said this could be the fight of the year, I was fully in agreement with them.
It had a touch of the Ali vs Foreman fight from the mid-seventies when everyone had written Ali off. Katie was thrown into that corner with no one I know thinking she had a chance. Indeed several people thought that the bigger and stronger Cameron would finish the job inside the distance this time.
Aside from the first round slip or knockdown, Katie was always the one dictating the tempo of the fight and while she seemed to have bulked up to match her opponent’s power, I’ve never seen her hand speed become such an effective weapon in her professional era.
Her corner certainly did their homework in ensuring that she must avoid the jab which was the basis of Cameron’s win the last time. Then once she dodged that, she was to come in with her own flurry of punches which invariably saw her land two to every shot that her opponent got away successfully.
Whereas she appeared too light the last time, on Saturday she was much more formidable at close quarters and dominated the holding and pushing too. She was a warrior queen in battle all night and by the end, she had won (again) all Irish hearts and those the world over with the sheer bravery and honesty of her night’s work.
Part of me was hoping she might call it a day and go out at the top but no sooner had her arm been raised in victory than she was calling for a third and deciding fight with the England star. And not only that but in Croke Park, the cradle of Ireland’s sporting history.
Eddie Hearn, her promoter, also called on the GAA to make the occasion happen either in the spring or early summer of next year and there is no doubt both girls would get a payday commensurate with what they have done for their sport.
Since then some have expressed doubts that Katie wouldn’t be able to get 80,000 to fill Croke Park but I don’t agree with that. She is an emerald icon, a force of nature, a role model for boys and girls in every town and village in the country. I think that given the right card, and yes I am prepared to box Stephen Hendry in the undercard (only joking), the place could be heaving for a showdown which could give Katie Taylor the grand finale she deserves.
She makes us all proud to be Irish and if you wanted a role model for your daughter, her humility and work ethic would certainly make you proud to have someone of your own try to emulate her in day to day living.
* While mentioning a weekend of great sporting achievements, as a Man United fan, I can’t let the moment pass without reflecting on the great goal scored by Garnacho for the Red Devils against Everton in Goodison Park on Sunday. While I am sympathetic to Everton in their current problems, I was delighted to see that early goal as it gave United the confidence to go on and win quite easily in the end,
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