How Chantelle Cameron beat Katie Taylor – the mental techniques behind the undisputed triumph
Chantelle Cameron passed the ultimate test when she beat Katie Taylor on Saturday night in Dublin.
Northampton’s Cameron was already the undisputed super-lightweight champion but in Taylor she was facing a legend in the sport – an Olympic gold medalist, two-weight world titlist and the reigning undisputed champion at 135lbs – who was fighting in Ireland for the first time in her professional career.
But Cameron handled the occasion and handed Taylor her first professional defeat by majority decision.
Cameron’s head trainer Jamie Moore had always been confident that she had the style to beat Taylor, or at the least give her serious problems.
“Her jab is really underestimated,” he said of Cameron. “Her distance, her timing, I don’t think people have spoken about it a lot, maybe it goes under the radar and she doesn’t get the credit for that.
“I think people were surprised how quickly she got into the fight,” he continued. “Straight away, within a minute in the first round, I said she’s going to [win easily].
“It didn’t actually go exactly how I anticipated beforehand because Katie didn’t go out the blocks as fast as she usually does. Because she knew she had to save herself [for later in the contest].”
He added: “Katie’s so good with her feet, her distance, her timing. The way she drops counter-shots and check left hooks and stuff instantly, for the vast majority of fighters it makes them hesitant so they second guess themselves then in coming forward and letting their hands go.
“She usually wins the fight or mentally gets a grip of the fight in the first couple of rounds.”
Cameron also had the right experience for this moment. She wasn’t fast-tracked, as others can be. Though Cameron is unbeaten she has had testing fights and been progressed step by step.
She won the vacant WBC 140lb title in 2020 and defended it in Las Vegas the following year. Her unification fight at the O2 ended up headlining when a Dillian Whyte fight was called off and she beat Jessica McCaskill, an undisputed champion at welterweight, to go undisputed at super-lightweight.
These were all preparatory experiences for Cameron to take on the biggest fight of his life.
But Jamie Moore believes that the mental techniques Cameron had been honing made all the difference.
“Everyone, rightly so, is obsessed with training the body. I’m a big believer in when you’re a world class fighter, or at least a British class fighter, you know how to fight. At a certain level small percentages make a big difference,” he told Sky Sports.
“So if you’re prepared mentally then you’re going to have a better chance against an equal sort of level of talent. I always say to my fighters make sure when you’re in there – as long as you’re fit and everything – that your mind has to be in the right place.”
Cameron has also been working with a mental coach.
“People have got that much respect for Katie, rightly so, then that can be a little bit overwhelming for opponents and they don’t commit to it, because they’ve got a lot of respect for her,” Moore said.
“I kept saying to Chantelle I know we’ve got a lot of respect for Katie but on the night for half an hour you have no respect for her. You go in there and you dominate her and then afterwards we go back to how it was before.
“We spoke about how long Katie’s ringwalk was going to be, keep us hanging around. Everything was going to be against us but I needed her mind to be in the right place for it.”
They also used “trigger words” to cope with the challenges.
“I try to have different words for different fights for different reasons,” Moore revealed. “I was just throwing them out all fight week.
“We came up with these trigger words like ‘no respect’ and ‘no problem’. One of the ones was ‘no problem’ and it sounds dead simple but when the noise came up in the arena and everyone was cheering and screaming for Katie I was just looking at Chantelle and I just kept smiling, going: ‘No problem’ and she kept repeating to me: ‘No problem.’
“Little things like that when they’re drilled and drilled for weeks and weeks take your mind off what else is happening and keep you laser focused. I kept repeating it to her over and over again and it worked a treat.”
He expects Cameron to get even better as well.
“If she can do it under those conditions,” he warned, “then she can do it anywhere.”