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02nd Feb 2023

Ireland’s self destructive mentality kills Croke Park fight for Katie Taylor

Lee Costello

Katie Taylor Croke Park

Another incredible own goal by Ireland.

In the seedy underhanded underworld of boxing, where promises go to die and false hope is bred, the one crusader of truth was the shining light that is Katie Taylor.

The Irish boxing sensation has delivered on everything promised of her throughout her career; every challenge, every obstacle, every declaration of intent that she made, the Bray brawler went and did it.

This is a woman who had the goal of winning an Olympic gold medal in boxing before females were even allowed to compete in the competition.

Katie Taylor Croke Park

When she turned pro, she declared that she would be world champion, which she did in record time, and then it was announced that she would be a unified champion, so that swiftly followed.

No one could or would expect anything more from her, but the 2012 gold medalist kept making her incredibly ambitious targets public, including becoming a multi-weight world champion, and unifying an entire division – two things she successfully did.

Then came the Amanda Serrano saga, the one fighter who could rival Taylor in terms of pedigree and skill, and even our Irish hero had to jump through the usual hoops of boxing to make this happen.

Katie Taylor Croke Park

How often have you heard Tyson Fury call out a fighter, or announce a bout with, say, Anthony Joshua, when even his most loyal fans know that there isn’t a hope of it happening?

How many times have we been promised world class clashes between superstars, only for the fights never to take place or come years after their sell-by date like Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao, or Kell Brook vs Amir Khan?

Boxing is more hype than it is fighting, but while everyone else was talking without walking, Taylor was whispering while sprinting, and managed to make the Serrano match happen in historic circumstances.

Katie Taylor Croke Park

Taylor won an incredible fight by split decision, breaking records in the process, and catapulting female boxing to a whole new stratosphere at the same time.

No sooner was her hand raised than she was calling for the whole thing to happen again, but in typical Taylor fashion, it had to be better and even more ambitious.

The rematch was cited to happen in Croke Park, meaning that Ireland would be the host of one of the biggest boxing events in history, and become an outlier as a beacon for the women’s game.

Katie Taylor Croke Park

However, even someone who stands as tall as Katie Taylor can’t completely keep her head above the polluted water of this murky sport.

Even when you do everything right, and everyone involved can benefit from the risks that you are taking, the unnecessary hurdles of boxing politics still trip you up.

Taylor’s promotor, Eddie Hearn, has effectively said that Croke Park has priced them out of the event happening, claiming that the venue would cost “three times the amount of Wembley”.

Katie Taylor Croke ParkThe Matchroom promoter also asked why the Irish government couldn’t get involved and help out in terms of covering some of the costs, or not charge certain expenses, and basically just help to move some of the roadblocks in place here.

Even the Aviva Stadium isn’t an option as a respectable plan B, because the rugby is on that weekend in May, which means that the biggest modern sporting event that could be hosted in this country will take place in the 3-Arena.

With all respect, this arena doesn’t have the capacity, prestige or historic value to give a fight of this magnitude the platform that it deserves.

Katie Taylor Croke Park

Whether Hearn is just a millionaire who is tight with his purse strings (that’s how you start rich after all) or the Irish government and Croke Park are scoring the biggest own goal in the country’s history, you have to ask why we can’t put the nonsense aside, and allow greatness to grow.

This week, an 18-year-old called Evan Ferguson fell victim to a horrible challenge whilst playing for Brighton against Liverpool in the FA Cup.

The interest in this teenager’s ankle became a national concern as Irish people yearn so badly for their new striker to be able to represent their country in the coming weeks.

Katie Taylor Croke Park

We as a nation are crying out for a saviour, a messiah to represent us in the best way possible; our very own Lionel Messi, Andy Murray, or Mo Farrah  – a character synonymous with the colours of their birthright.

The twisted irony of this is that we do have someone! Katie Taylor is the best representative we have ever had in any sport, period.

The Wicklow Warrior is humble, graceful and unassuming outside of the ring, carrying an aura of maturity and respect – everything an Irish parent would want their child to be like.

Katie Taylor Croke Park

Then, once she steps in the ring she becomes this brave, cocky performer, whose skillset is so vastly larger than most of her
opponents, and not only will she defeat whoever is put in front of her, she will do so in style.

We are so fortunate to have Taylor represent us, and better still, we have this incredible stadium at our disposal that most countries would kill to have.

Croke Park is an Irish monument, a colosseum that has hosted some of the greatest GAA matches, sporting events and gigs that have ever graced Ireland.

Katie Taylor Croke Park

Muhammad Ali fought there for God’s sake and for some twisted, unbeknownst reason, we can’t use it as a platform for our own greatest sporting figure to perform on?

Instead we cram her into a place that isn’t capable of hosting the power that she will bring, and we just brush one of the biggest opportunities we have under the rug, citing money as the reason this wasn’t possible.

As an Irish person who is so proud to have Taylor represent us, I am embarrassed to say that we aren’t fit to represent her.

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