NOT all that long ago Lewisham super-bantamweight Ellie Scotney believed she was on course to fulfil her childhood dream of boxing for a world title on the same night and in the same venue as her hero, Ireland’s Katie Taylor.
That, however, proved to be a dream wrapped in a nightmare for Scotney, who this week took to social media to reveal her IBF super-bantamweight title fight against Cherneka Johnson was in fact not happening on May 20 in Dublin, Ireland, as originally planned.
Usually, a cancellation such as this would be due to some sort of injury or illness on the part of either her or her opponent, yet here, unfortunately for Scotney, her fight has been pulled for quite a different reason; one more abstract and difficult to understand.
According to Scotney, the reason she has been robbed of the chance to fight on the same card as her hero is because Katie Taylor’s opponent, Chantelle Cameron, didn’t want Scotney or, specifically, Scotney’s training team, headed up by former Cameron coach Shane McGuigan, anywhere near her on the biggest night of her boxing life.
The 25-year-old explained on Tuesday: “I am incredibly disappointed to say that I am now hearing I will be removed from the May 20th card in Dublin due to Chantelle Cameron and her manager insisting to my promoter that I’m not allowed to be on her undercard because of who trains me. This is despite having been on two cards together before with no problems whatsoever.
“After my world title fight had been announced (on a huge night globally for women’s boxing), my dream is now being taken away from me by a fellow fighter dictating terms and making unreasonable demands to my promoter. I cannot describe how heartbroken I am.”
Cameron, who was coached by McGuigan until 2019, did not go into detail about her issues with him, but in a statement released shortly after Scotney’s did reveal she had once signed a non-disclosure agreement which prevents her from speaking about their evidently acrimonious split.
In her own statement, the 31-year-old said: “A few years ago I almost walked away from the sport I love because of what I went through with my (old) team.
“I would have hoped that she (Scotney) would have understood the situation and how important our mental health is going into fights like these, especially as the away fighter in Dublin where Katie is hailed as a national treasure. The last thing I need is more intimidation.
“It brings me to this point where I am in the biggest fight of my life. It has not been an easy road and it has not been an easy decision for my team to make, but they have to protect me in this situation and I have to protect myself.
“I am sorry this impacts Ellie, this is not about her, and even though I don’t appreciate being publicly bullied and shamed into trying to change the decision last night, I really do wish her well moving forward and know that there are big opportunities around the corner for her.”
In terms of these “big opportunities”, hopefully Scotney’s scrapped fight against Johnson finds its way onto another bill and fairly soon. It is the least Scotney deserves not only for her hard work leading up to this point but also, having reached what she felt was the Promised Land, finding it cruelly snatched away from her through no fault of her own.
Similarly, Cameron, a fighter who has worked hard for her shot at Katie Taylor, is allowed to feel the way she feels, even if, admittedly, it is much harder to understand her grievances without knowing every detail of the story. (Scotney’s, in comparison, are clearer and therefore she has every right to voice them the way she did.) Clearly, from simply reading between the lines (which is all any of us can do here), Cameron feels her performance against Taylor on the night would be adversely affected by having people for whom she has very little time or love surrounding her not just on fight night but in the days leading up to it as well.
Ultimately, whatever the right solution is, two things are certain: one, it doesn’t reflect well on the professionalism of boxing for a fighter, even a headliner, to call the shots in this way and rob an undercard fighter of an opportunity due to a grudge, whatever its roots or severity. And two, what seems just as unfair is the fact that of all the people involved it is left to Scotney and Cameron to come out and, to the best of their ability, explain a situation seemingly brought on by men happy to hide behind either an NDA or an ability to shift a fight from one card to another.
That doesn’t and never will seem right. After all, by releasing these statements, both fighters then received the very thing they were looking to avoid: scrutiny, criticism, negativity. Scotney, for her part, may have received some support in there as well, but, for Cameron, in particular, pressured into releasing her statement by virtue of her being painted as some sort of villain, she will now struggle getting through fight week without at least one reporter mentioning the name Ellie Scotney and asking her, “Why?”
One only hopes that rather than solely targeting Cameron reporters instead expand their search and think about the other players lurking in the shadows – the promoter, the manager, advisor, the trainer – not one of whom will be in the ring taking punches on May 20.