There isn’t a fighter in or near Katie Taylor’s weight class that Claressa Shields would favor to beat the undefeated, fully unified lightweight champion.
Chantelle Cameron will have size and youth on her side Saturday night in Dublin, but Shields doesn’t believe those advantages will be enough to overcome one of the fighters Shields admires most. The undefeated, undisputed middleweight champion lauded Ireland’s Taylor as “a one-of-a-kind athlete” whose determination, heart and skill will be too much for Cameron in their 10-round fight for the unbeaten Cameron’s IBF, IBO, WBA, WBC and WBO 140-pound championships.
“I love that she’s taking this big fight against Chantelle Cameron,” Shields told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t think Chantelle Cameron can beat Katie Taylor. I don’t think Chantelle Cameron is seasoned enough to beat Katie. Now, may she be a little bigger? Sure, but Katie has dealt with size and punching power her entire career. And I believe that she’s gonna do it again.”
Taylor (22-0, 6 KOs) was supposed to face rival Amanda Serrano in a rematch Saturday night at 3Arena in Ireland’s capital city. Brooklyn’s Serrano (44-2-1, 30 KOs) withdrew from their second fight soon after it was announced due to a nagging hand injury she aggravated during her 10-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Mexico’s Erika Cruz (15-2, 3 KOs) in their 126-pound title fight February 4 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.
The 36-year-old Taylor decided to move up temporarily to the junior welterweight division to challenge Cameron once Serrano gave up her opportunity to avenge her 10-round, split-decision loss to Taylor in their fan-friendly slugfest a year ago at Madison Square Garden. Serrano instead will box Brooklyn’s Heather Hardy (24-2, 4 KOs) in their own 10-round, 126-pound championship rematch August 6 on the Jake Paul-Nate Diaz undercard at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The 32-year-old Cameron became the undisputed 140-pound champion of women’s boxing by beating Jessica McCaskill in her last fight. England’s Cameron (17-0, 8 KOs) out-pointed Chicago’s McCaskill (12-3, 5 KOs) unanimously in their 10-rounder November 5 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
Despite her impressive victory over McCaskill, Shields cannot envision Cameron conquering Taylor, who is listed by most sportsbooks as almost a 2-1 favorite.
“There aren’t many women in this game who I think can beat Katie in a fight,” Shields said. “Of course, I believe myself and maybe Alycia Baumgardner, or even Amanda Serrano. Their fight was close. But I just think that Katie, when she’s in those tough fights, that she finds a way to win. So, there’s not many girls I can say can beat her, you know, except the girls I just mentioned. But those are very, very close fights. Katie is the one.”
DAZN will stream Taylor-Cameron worldwide as the main event of a show scheduled to start Saturday at 7 p.m. IST and 2 p.m. EDT. Two weeks later, the 10-round, 160-pound championship rematch between Shields (13-0, 2 KOs), a three-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist from Flint, Michigan, and Costa Rica’s Hanna Gabriels (21-2-1, 12 KOs) will headline a show DAZN will stream June 3 from Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.