This weekend’s biggest fight goes down in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. At that storied arena Katie Taylor will defend her WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight titles against WBC, WBO and IBO featherweight champion Amanda Serrano.
Taylor, who is 20-0, is one of boxing’s brightest stars. This is her second fight at MSG and the first women’s boxing match to ever headline the main room. She’s also fought in front of packed crowds at England’s famous Manchester Arena and Wembley Stadium. Despite the fact she hails from Bray, Ireland, Taylor has never fought on home soil.
It’s widely believed that the reason Taylor has not fought in Ireland is because of the influence Daniel Kinahan has enjoyed in Irish (and world) boxing. Kinahan, who founded the company that would become MTK Global, was recently sanctioned by the US government and accused of running a billion dollar cocaine smuggling outfit that is responsible for gangland assassinations across Ireland and Spain.
Writing for Sports Illustrated, Chris Mannix claimed sources close to Taylor have confirmed that her avoidance of fighting in Ireland is because of concerns over Kinahan. The concerns seem mostly focused on MTK fighters being forced onto the hypothetical card and thus being elevated by Taylor’s presence.
Those concerns were vocalized by Irish politician Neale Richmond in early 2021. The Teachta Dála for Dublin Rathdown once implored Taylor to steer clear of MTK repped fighter Natasha Jonas because of the “toxic” influence of Kinahan.
Despite that request, Taylor faced Jonas at Manchester’s AO Arena and defeated her by unanimous decision.
Last week it was announced that MTK would cease operations due to the intense scrutiny they have faced since Kinahan was sanctioned. Prior to Kinahan’s sanctioning MTK maintained that Kinahan stopped working with the promotion in 2017, after one of their weigh-in shows was attacked by gunmen who police believe were trying to kill Kinahan. Kinahan fled to Dubai shortly after this.
Despite MTK claiming Kinahan was not involved in the company, their top talent continued to shout him out as a their friend and advisor. Most notable among that talent was Tyson Fury, who thanked Kinahan for negotiating fights for him in 2020, and the UFC’s Darren Till, who has posed for multiple pictures with Kinahan around Dubai.
With MTK disbanding, the door is now open for Taylor to fight in Ireland without worrying about that company and their association to Kinahan. However, Probellum—a boxing and MMA promoter closely associated with MTK—does remain in business.
If concerns over MTK and Kinahan weren’t enough, Taylor has also had to suffer the anguish of her father almost dying in a shooting at his Bray Boxing Club in 2018.
In June 2018 a gunman entered Peter Taylor’s gym and opened fire; killing one man. Taylor was wounded when he tackled the gunman.
Authorities believed Taylor was the target of the attack and that the man who was killed was at the gym just to exercise. Authorities further believed that Taylor was targeted because he had been drawn into a rivalry between Dublin based drug dealers and that someone had decided to take a shot at him over a “personal grudge.”
Later that year Gerard Cervi was charged with attempted murder in connection to this incident. In September 2021 Cervi’s trial collapsed after a juror became seriously ill (per Irish Times). A new trial date is yet to be set.
There are no reports linking the Bray Boxing Club shooting to the so-called Kinahan Organized Crime Group.
These high profile instances of crime intersecting with Irish boxing have done little to overshadow Taylor’s excellence in the ring. In 2020 she was named Sports Person of the Year by Ireland’s public broadcaster RTÉ.
Taylor’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, hinted that a homecoming fight could materialize in the near future.
“I just think it would be very disappointing if she never got the chance to go to Ireland and let her have that moment,” said Hearn (via RTÉ).
“We will see what happens. It’s too early to comment on anything that has happened,” added Hearn, when asked if it would be an easier eventuality in relation to the closing down of MTK. “But if she beats Serrano maybe we could do the repeat there.”
Taylor vs. Serrano is being broadcast on DAZN. The event is being co-produced by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom boxing and Jake Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions.