Chantelle Cameron broke hearts with a smile on her face last weekend.
The undisputed super-lightweight champion left Dublin having ended the unbeaten streak of undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor. The homecoming party, a week-long Taylor celebration, was abruptly ended by the Northampton star.
All the while, Cameron did it all knowing she was a merely brought there to be a walk-on part for the Katie Taylor show.
“I’ve done it the hard way,” she admitted earlier today. “Nothing’s been given to me, but I’m glad my journey has been the way it has. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be as satisfying as it is now.”
Asked whether she would return to Dublin to face Taylor again in a rematch, she said she would be she had not had time to watch the fight back, let alone discuss her next moves formally with her team.
“I will happily take the rematch, and I will go back to Dublin, but this time around there’s got to be a few changes,” Cameron said. “What champion signs for a fight of that magnitude and just accepts everything, didn’t question anything, didn’t ask for any changes, nothing. I just agreed to everything. I wasn’t treated like the champion that week. I was just treated like I was there to turn up and be part of the occasion, but I knew and my team knew that I was there to ruin the homecoming.”
Cameron added she would negotiate to have a few things in her favour next time, pointing out that she had to wait a long time in the ring as Taylor made her entrance.
“I was just trying not to look too much into it,” Chantelle added, of how fight week and the night went as the B-side. “It could have got a bit frustrating. I could have got angry. But it was Katie Taylor’s homecoming. It was Katie Taylor’s show, and I was defending my belts and it was all about Katie Taylor but it makes it even better for me.”
There is an unlikely dream, however, for Cameron and it doesn’t include going back to Ireland. She wants to fight in front of her own fans in Northampton before she calls time on her career.
She would like to box at either the Sixfields Stadium (where Northampton FC play soccer) or the Saints rugby stadium.
“I definitely want to box in Northampton,” she continued. “I’m from a small town, and it’s definitely on my bucket list because I was born and bred here and I’d love to bring boxing back to Northampton. We’ve not had big boxing nights, so I’d absolutely love that. That would be a satisfying dream, knowing I got to fight at home for once. I’ve been to Vegas, I’ve been to Abu Dhabi, I’ve been to Ireland, so I would love to have support at home for once and become multiple weight undisputed world champion.”
And while much talk will surround her returning to Dublin – she hasn’t spoken to Taylor since the fight – her trainer Jamie Moore would actually like to see her go up in weight and firstly fight Terri Harper and then try to unify at 154 with Natasha Jonas.
And Cameron only sees herself fighting for another couple of years. She wants to open her own gym, invest in property and enjoy the fruits of labouring through a hard sport. Already she helps out in amateur clubs in her free time.
“It’s about the next generation, where maybe it’s two years [she has] left in the sport but I want to help bring the next generation through and maybe myself become a coach one day and have a young female and male fighters and chase their dreams with them and put them on the right path,” Cameron said.
Cameron was also quick to heap praise on trainer Moore, who scored the fight 7-3 for his fighter, and his No. 2 Nigel Travis. The two Manchester coaches have worked on Cameron’s physical and psychological attributes. They gave her the belief she needed to conquer an icon in her own country.
“If it wasn’t for them, I could have crumbled easily,” Chantelle admitted. “I say it time and time again, I’m not the most confident person anyway, and those two know the ins and outs of what I’m about and my mindset and they know me inside out so they know how to work me, they know how to trigger me, especially the ringwalk and the build-up. There were certain things… and it was making sure I was cool, calm and collected, but without a doubt, if I had anyone else in my corner, I think they would have panicked, I would have panicked, their nerves would have gone off on me and I would have crumbled. But Jamie and Nige are probably two of the coolest men you will meet and it’s rubbing off on me.”
Taylor has faced calls for her to quit, to retire after the event of a lifetime. Her huge homecoming certainly did not have the final chapter she would have written, but Cameron has no sympathies, not because she did not care but because throughout she has only been focused on her own journey.
“In all honesty, no it didn’t,” she replied, talking about crashing the party. “I said all along I was going to ruin the homecoming and that’s what I turned up and did. I didn’t feel nothing. At the end of the day, it was all about me. My team kept saying to me all week, ‘It’s all about you, it’s all about you.’ It got into my head that it was about me. As much as the whole event was about Katie Taylor, and the crowd was for Katie Taylor, as soon as I stepped in the ring, it was ‘This is about me now.’ I’m going to beat Katie Taylor, the torch is going to be handed over and I’m going to rocket my career off. Boxing is a selfish sport and I went in there with a selfish mindset.”