Katie Taylor’s comeback fight has been discussed in the Irish parliament following comments from her promoter, Eddie Hearn.
Taylor, who never fought in Ireland during her professional boxing career, was due to defend her undisputed lightweight championship against Amanda Serrano at Croke Park in May.
Serrano, who pushed ‘The Bray Bomber’ to the end of their historic fight last year, must first get rid of Erika Cruz whom she will fight in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
However, Hearn revealed earlier this week that the 80,000 seater stadium in Dublin will not host Taylor’s next fight due to the cost of renting the Gaelic Athletic Association headquarters. [GAA].
The chairman of Matchroom Sports told MMA reporter Ariel Helwani that Croke Park would cost three times as much to rent as Wembley Stadium in London.
Hearn said on The MMA Hour: “The fight will not take place in Croke Park. We have done everything possible to [make it happen]. Ultimately and oddly, the cost of doing a show at Croke Park is three times higher than at Wembley.
“And people will say on social media, ‘Oh, pay the money, Hearn!’ It’s like, no, no: the fighters want that much money, if we do it in Croke Park, even with a sold-out sale, with the cost that they want to charge, it’s not possible to give fighters what they deserve.
“So we will go to an arena in Ireland if we do Taylor-Serrano and if Serrano comes through on Saturday night. One thing I promise is that we will be in Ireland for the next Katie Taylor fight. It will happen.
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Croke Park commercial director Peter McKenna denied Hearn’s claim that the Irish stadium costs significantly more to rent than Wembley and revealed the real issue was the cost of security for the potential event.
“We would love to fight here,” he said when releasing the GAA’s annual report and financial results.
“The last time we spoke to them properly was before Christmas. Our rent was around 400,000 euros (£355,000). I think the rent for Wembley is around £250,000-300,000.
“I think the surprise was that our focus on safety and attention to detail was way more than they expected in a Wembley or Bethnal Green scenario.
“You’re talking about bringing 60,000 to 70,000 people into a stadium for a late night fight with quite a bit of alcohol consumed.”
Minister of State for the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Thomas Byrne reacted to Hearn’s comments in the Irish parliament on Thursday.
He said: “The very first meeting I had with anyone outside the department was with Katie Taylor’s manager, Brian Peters, in early January.
“They explained to us that there was a funding gap between what the promoters were willing to pay for the fight and what the fight would actually cost. We said, ‘Yes, the government supports major events, absolutely, but there is a process to follow.”
Byrne went on to explain that Taylor-Serrano 2 is set to take place on May 20, the same date as the European Rugby Champions Cup final will take place in the same city.
The 45-year-old concluded his speech by saying that Hearn suggesting they had stopped contacting him about the Taylor fight was nonsense.
Byrne added: “The review is still ongoing, but what Mr Hearn said yesterday on an MMA channel that the government hasn’t been in touch is simply not the case. There has been a series of meetings and correspondence lately.