This Saturday, Chantelle Cameron takes on the toughest challenge of her career as she faces the iconic Katie Taylor. Despite the fact it is ‘Il Capo’ putting her undisputed super lightweight championship on the line against the Irish legend, you will find very few people characterising this as one of Taylor’s toughest tests.
On the one hand you can view this as a natural consequence of the superlative career Taylor has had. It has taken the emergence of the equally-excellent Claressa Shields for anyone to even begin to question Taylor’s status as the pound-for-pound best female in boxing. It was always going to be a tall order for Cameron to be viewed as the toughest opponent on a record that includes a win over Amanda Serrano, a guaranteed Hall of Famer if ever there was one. But The 31-year-old from Northampton is underappreciated. This fight is a perfect chance to put things right.
Cameron scarcely gets brought up in the Taylor-Shields-Serrano conversation at the top of women’s boxing. Ebanie Bridges has hit upon some crossover appeal while Savannah Marshall’s feud with Shields and Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner’s feud with each other has put them on a pedestal. Cameron has been lost in the shuffle a little when it comes to mainstream attention. It’s a real shame when you consider the sheer strength of her resume.
In her last bout, Cameron beat ‘CasKILLA’ herself, Jessica McCaskill, to become the undisputed 140lb queen. The American was unbeaten in five years, with her last conqueror none other than Katie Taylor. Cameron has also beaten former world champion Melissa Hernandez, Olympic bronze medalist Adriana Araujo, beat the double-tough Mary McGhee for her IBF belt and Argentina’s dangerous veteran Victoria Bustos to retain the unified title.
It’s not the out-and-out best record in the sport but it’s well up there. At the age of 31, Cameron has plenty of time to add more meat to the bones too. But for true immortality there is only one name she needs on there. On Saturday night she just happens to be facing the perfect opponent to elevate her status to immortality; Katie Taylor.
That’s easier said than done of course. 22 of the best women in the world have swung for Taylor and thus far all 22 have missed. Can Cameron succeed where some incredible boxers have failed? The Serrano sisters? Natasha Jonas? Delfine Persoon? Does Cameron have anything those women did not have?
In truth she probably does. Size wise she’s bigger than most fighters Taylor has faced. ‘Simply The Best’ has fought at super lightweight just once, when she captured the WBO title in a one-fight flying visit against Christina Linardatou. This will be Cameron’s sixth world title fight at 140lb, making her far more experienced at the sharp end of the weight.
There is also the fact that no other fighter has found a way to beat Cameron. While Taylor is not just any fighter, once again she is being asked to pull off something no one else has ever done. How many miracles can one athlete give us? At the age of 36, she can’t go on stunning us forever. Many thought the punishing Amanda Serrano fight could end up being the beginning of the end and it is true she was functional rather than lethal against Karen Carbajal in her following bout. Torches are passed in sport all the time. Perhaps Cameron will be the one to take it from Taylor.
You don’t put together the career Taylor has by being complacent. 22-0 and a two-weight world champion, gunning for a second undisputed title when she faces Cameron. But it is true that this is not the fight she was anticipating. Taylor was supposed to be facing Serrano in a rematch of their incredible Madison Square Garden bout. The biggest fight in women’s boxing history, their follow-up was tipped for Croke Park in Dublin. Will Taylor be able to get up for an indoor assignment in front of a smaller crowd against a great but admittedly less legendary opponent?
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change