Gary Connaughton reporting from Dublin Castle
It has been far too long since we saw a top class professional boxing event in this country. The reasons for the lack of professional scene in Ireland have been well reported on, but there is a real sense that the sport is returning to its former glories once again.
The hype around Katie Taylor's upcoming fight against Chantelle Cameron has been steadily building ever since the bout was first announced. It has kicked into overdrive now that fight week has arrived.
There were some fantastic scenes in Dundrum yesterday, with sizeable numbers showing up to see an open workout featuring the fighters on the card. Of course, Taylor received by far the biggest welcome of the day.
This is very wholesome ❤️️
Katie Taylor took time to sign autographs for young fans 🙏#BBCBoxing pic.twitter.com/L76PXJoph7
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 17, 2023
What was notable about the event in Dundrum was how many children came to see their hero. Boxing is not necessarily a sport you would associate with a younger fan base, but the Bray woman is not your typical boxer.
She is a national hero in Ireland, one that will now take to the ring in front of her compatriots this weekend for the first time in a professional setting. Speaking at the press conference for the fight earlier this afternoon, Taylor said she was hopeful that this event could inspire a whole new generation of female fighters in this country.
Katie Taylor is hoping that her fight at the 3Arena on Saturday night will inspire a new generation of young girls in Ireland to make their own way in boxing ☘️ #TaylorCameron pic.twitter.com/68BkNvxBiz
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) May 18, 2023
One of the things I wanted to achieve when I first turned pro six years ago was a fight here on home turf. This is a nation that loves its sport, loves its boxing. For a very small nation, we're very good at it as well.
It's amazing to be bringing big time boxing back to this nation again, where it belongs...
I think that's what it's all about, making the way for the next generation of fighters. That generation of fighters is going to do even more than we have ever done. That's what legacy is all about really.
When I was growing up, I was a nine or ten-year old having these big dreams. I didn't have the Olympics at the time, we had so many obstacle and boundaries in the way.
Now, here we are making the path so much easier for the next generation of fighters. It's amazing.
Just a few hours ago I met up again with Deirdre Gogarty, who was my hero growing up. She was the only female fighter I actually know at the time. The influence she had on my career was amazing.
I could be that for some young girl coming up in the sport as well.
FACE OFF 👀@KatieTaylor vs @chantellecam
👑 Undisputed World Super-Lightweight Championship#TaylorCameron | DAZN pic.twitter.com/scs2aYSzje
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) May 18, 2023
The chance to become an undisputed champion in a second weight class is something that Taylor will be keen not to let pass her by. This bout will certainly provide a different sort of challenge to what she is used to, moving up in weight to take on an opponent who possesses a noticeable size advantage.
In saying that, it is no doubt a challenge she will relish. The opportunity to do it in front of a manic Dublin crowd would only make a potential victory all the sweeter.
This isn't any normal fight, this is undisputed champion versus undisputed champion.
This will be a very special fight, one of the biggest fights in boxing I believe.
Judging by the way the nation have reacted to this event, that statement might not be too far from the truth.
Here's hoping the week is capped off with the Katie Taylor victory that we all want to see on Saturday night.