Gary Spike O’Sullivan: Maybe Katie will prove me wrong. Nothing would give me greater pleasure

What can she do differently? I reckon her only chance is to go back to go forward: revert to her amateur days. 
Gary Spike O’Sullivan: Maybe Katie will prove me wrong. Nothing would give me greater pleasure

TOUGH TASK: Katie Taylor. Pic: ©INPHO/Tom Maher

Rematches have, I suppose, never really been my thing. I’ve managed to go 16 years as a pro without ever facing the same opponent twice.

Maybe there was a little bit of that floating in the background when I made the decision this week to turn down a ringside seat for Katie Taylor's rematch with Chantelle Cameron at the 3Arena on Saturday. 

There was a lot floating around to be fair. It’s my daughter’s birthday on Friday and my beloved mam’s turning 60 on Sunday. So I’ve enough going on.

But still the biggest factor was the uncomfortable sense that’s been swirling inside me of what we’re going to see on Saturday night: deja vu.

I was there in May when Cameron was the clear, at times comfortable, winner and it was bloody uncomfortable viewing for so many of us in there. I have written here about how far back myself and Katie go — all the way back. 

We were on the same Irish amateur underage teams when Katie was the lone female fighter, blazing a trail from the get-go. So it’s natural that I have a fondness for her. 

But still, seeing her get hurt is harder than with any of my other close friends or gym partners.

And what about the other 7,999 people inside the place? They weren’t waiting around the same airports and hotel lobbies as myself and Katie 20-plus years ago. 

But that same fondness, the love and connection that makes it so hard to watch her put herself in harm’s way and not have it go her way was shared among the whole of the 3Arena — and most of the country.

That’s the place Katie occupies in the heart of the nation. She’s our daughter and our sister and she’s been an incredible ambassador for Ireland, flying the flag like no sportswoman before her. 

In a week when some absolute simpletons have brought shame on the country, pretending to be ambassadors or defending what they think ‘Irish values’ are, it’s even more important to remember how Katie actually exemplified all of what’s good about us for the past two decades.

Has carrying all of that weight taken a toll? As much as all the fighting she has done? Perhaps. 

But in May it was her bloody determination and iron will that led her to that first professional defeat. She moved up in weight to challenge Cameron for her light welterweight titles in spite of almost nothing being in her favour.

In the end Cameron’s advantages — younger, bigger, taller, greater reach — all counted. It wasn’t a procession but it was a clear victory on the scorecards. Cameron mightn’t have come as close to stopping Katie as say Amanda Serrano did but equally the punches that Katie herself landed weren’t nearly punishing enough.

I wrote in the Examiner the next morning that there was no need for a rematch but even then I wasn’t so sure Katie would listen to that chat. 

So here we are again and the biggest question is: will enough have changed in six months? Judging by the ticket sales, a lot slower this time around even when this is potentially Taylor’s final fight, it would appear I’m not the only one feeling shaky about answering that.

Cameron is so calm again. Why wouldn’t she be? As she said herself ‘this is a fight I’ve won already’. In my amateur days, I did fight lads multiple times and I remember getting ready to step in for a rematch having lost the last one. The adrenaline hits you different. You know they had your number last time and that hurt. 

But it also sharpens the mind a bit. I think it’s interesting that Katie has opted to do a lot less media this week, spending more time with her trainer and team.

But there too I think Cameron still has the upper hand. Jamie Moore was the mastermind of the historic win in May, getting Cameron to focus on the body and gassing Katie early on. 

That meant that most of the pace was dictated by his fighter. I admire Ross Enamait but a bit of me thinks back to what Chris Eubank Sr. said about Adam Booth once: if you haven’t fought then are you in fact more of a PE teacher than a boxing trainer? That kinda view would be harsh on Enamait but I do think if it comes down to tactics, Moore will dominate.

Thankfully Cameron’s hope for the rematch to be over 12 three-minute rounds didn’t come to pass because, at 37, that definitely would have been curtains for Katie. But what can she do differently? I reckon her only chance is to go back to go forward: revert to her amateur days. 

She has to focus on getting in and out and getting the points and don’t engage in the battle, because she’s physically outgunned. Remaining disciplined and not being sucked into trading bombs is hard for any fighter. Can Katie of all people resist? I honestly don’t know.

One result I’m absolutely sure of is Thomas Carty maintaining his unbeaten run as he continues to fulfill my prediction that he could be the best heavyweight our country has produced. He filled a snazzy suit well this week too. Looking sharp but not as sharp as myself, of course.

I’ve been blessed to spend a lot of time in the gym with Thomas and am awful fond of him. While I’ll never stop slagging him for having a head on him like a cavity block, he’s a cute bollocks at the same time and a bloody good fighter. On Saturday night we’ll see plenty of all of the above.

And yeah, a bit of me would love to be there for it. To witness Thomas keep on trucking and maybe even witness Katie pull off a huge bit of redemption too. But I just can’t see it enough to go and see it. 

Maybe she’ll prove me wrong. Nothing would give me greater pleasure.

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