Chantelle Cameron has been keen to fight Jessica McCaskill since 2017 and now, as two champions, they are finally set to meet on November 5, writes Elliot Worsell
ALTHOUGH she has never been one to raise her voice, stamp her feet, or demand things out of turn, it is fair to say Chantelle Cameron, a WBC and IBF belt-holder at super-lightweight, has had an ideal opponent in mind for the best part of five years and has been hoping, with fingers crossed, they would one day share a ring.
To her relief, that ideal opponent is now set to become her next opponent, with a fight between Cameron and Jessica McCaskill announced late last week. They will fight at super-lightweight (not welterweight, the division in which McCaskill is champion), on November 5 in Abu Dhabi and Cameron, who enters the fight as champion, is relieved to finally get the matchup she has always wanted and, moreover, get it at a time when it makes most sense, both commercially and in terms of reward.
“It goes way back,” Cameron said of her connection with McCaskill, 12-2 (5). “It goes back to when I turned professional. I’d had five fights and she had just boxed Katie Taylor. Her and her coach (Rick Ramos) were on Twitter doing what they do best, ranting and raving, and trying to get the fight, and I wanted to fight her then. But I was with a different team back then and they didn’t want me to go down that route. They wanted me to fight (Maïva) Hamadouche, Delfine Persoon. They were the sort of opponents they were looking at instead.
“Obviously McCaskill then went on to win world titles at 140 pounds, and I won a fight to become her mandatory, so thought I would end up fighting her. We planned on fighting McCaskill about two and a half years ago but she vacated and ended up fighting (Cecilia) Brækhus. I knew then our paths wouldn’t cross, but now, thankfully, they have. It’s happened at the right time as well because if we had boxed back then, when I first turned professional, it would have only been for an IBO belt. Even when McCaskill won the WBC title at 140 pounds, it wouldn’t have been a big fight. Now, though, we’re boxing for the undisputed title. We’re both going to get the maximum out of this fight.”
Cameron’s hope is that the winner of her fight with McCaskill on November 5 will be able to then go on and fight Katie Taylor at some point next year. That would be a rematch in the case of McCaskill, of course, whereas for Cameron it would represent the biggest fight of her career to date.
Until then, she has her sights set firmly on McCaskill, someone who has, in truth, been a fighter she has watched for a number of years now.
“It was her style,” Cameron said when asked to pinpoint what made the American such an appealing potential opponent. “I really respect her style. I think she’s a great fighter. She’s tough, she’s stubborn. She’s an opponent that excites me. I think we can put on a great show for the fans. She’ll be there until the end and is relentless. It was a fight I wanted to be part of.
“I think our styles will make a really good, fan-friendly fight. That’s why I’m looking forward to it and why I’ve wanted this fight for a long time.”
With McCaskill comes her coach, Rick Ramos, someone active and outspoken on social media and a character with whom Cameron has, for better or worse, grown familiar. His will be a voice Cameron will first ignore and then look to silence when she and McCaskill come to blows in the desert later this year.
“I think that’s his style,” Cameron said of Ramos. “He likes to be loud and active on social media. The impression I get is he likes to stir the pot a little bit and trash talk. But, for me, it’s strictly business. I’m not going to be on Twitter going back and forth with all that he-said, she-said.
“Coaches talking a lot on Twitter and Instagram is madness. They’re not going to be the ones in the ring fighting. They’re supposed to just get their fighter prepared. They don’t need to be bitching on Twitter.
“I think it’s a bit silly really, but everyone has their own style. I’m just glad Jamie (Moore) and Nigel (Travis) aren’t like that. They never get into any spats on social media and I’m the same. We’re all very professional.”
It goes without saying, every boxer is different, every boxer’s motivation for fighting is different, and the route they take to find their motivation tends to be different for every boxer, too. Some will find motivation from within, whereas others will find it from within a rivalry, one fuelled by needle, animosity, and sometimes even hatred.
For Cameron, though, there is no need to create a grudge in order to get her out of bed in the morning.
“I don’t have a grudge against McCaskill,” she said. “I respect her for what she has done. She has had a good career. On my side there’s only respect, but they may try to push my buttons, I don’t know. They’re going to be arguing with themselves if they do. I won’t rise to it. I won’t get into all that.
“If they want to overlook me, that’s their problem. But I’m not overlooking Jessica. I know I have a tough fight on my hands and it’s strictly business for me. I won’t be on Twitter going back and forth. For me, it’s a must-win fight. I don’t have the energy for all that. All the energy I have will be going into training to make sure I have the best performance of my career.”
In terms of what that career-best performance will look like, it’s something Cameron, 16-0 (8), has been visualising for many years now. In the gym, and at home, she imagines how their respective styles will mesh on the night, and she imagines how her best attributes will exploit the weaknesses she has spotted in McCaskill over the years. She then imagines, ultimately, her hand being raised at the fight’s conclusion.
“I think she’ll be surprised when she feels how strong I am,” said Cameron. “I also think I am a better boxer, I’m faster, I’m sharper, and I’ve got Game A, Game B, and Game C, whereas she knows one thing and one thing only. That’s quite easy for me to figure out. I can mix it up, and change game plans, but I don’t think she has that in her toolbox.”