Taylor’s Dublin Homecoming Against Cameron Coincides with Seven-Year Anniversary of F.atal Sh.ooting

When Katie Taylor walks to the ring for her fight with Chantelle Cameron, she will be responsible for bringing the first major fight back to Ireland since before a gangland shooting in 2016.

On that occasion on February 5 at Dublin’s Regency Hotel, ahead of the ‘Clash of the Clans’ promotion headlined by Irishman Jamie Kavanagh and Antonio Joao Bento of Portugal, four gunmen raided the weigh-in and killed David Byrne of the Kinahan cartel.

Byrne was fatally shot at the Regency Airport Hotel in Dublin
Byrne was fatally shot at the Regency Airport Hotel in DublinCredit: AFP

The gunmen were linked to the rival Hutch gang, and the Garda – the Irish police – believe their intended target was none other than Daniel Kinahan as a consequence of a shooting two years previous.

Byrne’s friends Sean McGovern and Aaron Bolger were also injured in the coordinated attack that involved two of the gunmen carrying AK-47 rifles and wearing military-style helmets and police SWAT-type uniforms.

Another of their group was dressed as a woman, and earlier this month two men – Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy – were found guilty of providing getaway vehicles and sentenced to lengthy spells in jail.

Kinahan, whose father Christy and brother Christopher Jr are also wanted by the Garda and other European law enforcement agencies, today resides in Dubai having fled Ireland shortly afterwards.

The Kinahan Organised Crime Group has, in the Irish courts, since been accepted as being ‘involved in drug trafficking, money laundering and gangland executions’ worth in excess of $1billion, and last year the US government offered a reward of $5million for information on them or for the arrest and conviction of its leaders.

A total of 18 people have been murdered in the ongoing feud between the Kinahans and Hutchs. Some of those involved in the promotion around Taylor-Cameron have even almost become collateral.

Jamie Moore, Cameron’s trainer, was in August 2014 shot in the hip bone and calf outside of Kinahan’s home in Marbella, Spain, in another case of mistaken identity.

They had been there to shoot Kinahan and, while Moore did recover from his wounds, one of the bullets had missed an artery by millimetres.

The Clash of Clans event was pulled as a result
The Clash of Clans event was pulled as a resultCredit: AFP

Cameron was previously trained by Shane McGuigan but has worked with Moore, who has no links to crime, since joining MTK Global – the management company set up by Kinahan in 2006 and previously known as MGM.

The talented Ellie Scotney was removed from the undercard on Cameron’s insistence. Cameron said that she had been badly treated by the McGuigans – a charge her former trainer rejected.

Most consistently, a price has been paid in the absence of a significant fight in Ireland – until Taylor vs Cameron was announced.

Taylor is 36 and about to fight for the 23rd time of a decorated professional career that started in November 2016. She is also not only Ireland’s most popular active athlete, she is perhaps Ireland’s finest fighter of all time.

Despite being so influential towards the increased popularity of women’s boxing, the patriotic, Connecticut-based Taylor – who fought Alanna Nihell in Ireland’s first ever sanctioned women’s fight in 2001 – has been unable to fight in front of the supporters who love her most.

Taylor will surely be desperate for victory in her homecoming fight
Taylor will surely be desperate for victory in her homecoming fightCredit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom

In the years since the shooting at the Regency there had been only small-hall promotions; Taylor’s peak years have therefore unfolded in the UK and US, and the sport that Dublin’s often-troubled working-class communities – they, too, have been shaped by the Kinahans –hold dear has literally paid the price.

The Garda, and insurance companies, have been reluctant to support professional boxing, making the already difficult pursuit of small hall promoting even more difficult to turn into a profit.

Fears surrounding a repeat and the reputational damage suffered by Irish boxing meant that the cost of insurance for a promotion was 20 times that in Belfast – which hosted fights not only involving Carl Frampton and Tyson Fury, both then associated in a boxing context with Kinahan, but, like Frampton, another Belfast native in Ryan Burnett.

As recently as 2019 it would cost ten times more to insure a promotion in Dublin than in Newry, a city an hour away.

Between the cancellation of ‘Clash of the Clans’ and Taylor vs Cameron, Ireland – a country with a proud tradition of boxing – had hosted only 22 professional promotions.

Cameron is likely to be a tough opponent for her though
Cameron is likely to be a tough opponent for her thoughCredit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom

Matchroom, the promoters of Taylor vs Cameron, were the last major organisation to operate from Ireland when they staged Jorge Sebastian Heiland’s victory over Matthew Macklin – who by then had helped Kinahan establish MGM, or Macklin’s Gym Marbella, rebranded MTK in 2017 when Macklin also sold his stake.

Frank Warren’s attempts to stage a fight between Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders in 2015 were ultimately cancelled. Even in 2018, when Matchroom previously attempted to stage one of Taylor’s fights in Dublin, they were told by the Garda that “the climate was not conducive” to them pursing their plans.

In 2011 the Cuban great Guillermo Rigondeaux had travelled to Ireland to stop Willie Casey. Bernard Dunne, the last Irish fighter before Taylor to crossover into the mainstream, had attracted significant crowds and attention between 2005 and 2009.

Dublin is getting ready to host the anticipated bout
Dublin is getting ready to host the anticipated boutCredit: Getty

Without big promotions to feature on, the undercards of Taylor’s fellow professionals also suffered. A professional promotion staged in November 2022 was the first in her home city for four years.

Taylor herself last fought in Dublin as a remarkably popular amateur at the Tralee Boxing Club, 15 days after the shooting – since when the scale of Kinahan’s attempts at sports-washing his reputation have become increasingly clear.

The very same day of that fight armed Garda units were monitoring the streets of Dublin before the funeral of Eddie Hutch – the brother of Gerry – who had been murdered in retaliation for the killing of Kinahan’s associate Byrne.

Few, regardless, could have known it would be so long since she would return.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Taylor said ahead of the fight with Cameron at the 3Arena less than three miles from where the shooting took place that had contributed to her absence.

“We’re definitely turning a new leaf for Irish boxing. Hopefully this will be the first night of many nights here at home.”

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