Chantelle Cameron: “I will keep doing what I have been doing and one day they will have to give me one of those big fights.”

Chantelle Cameron: “I will keep doing what I have been doing and one day they will have to give me one of those big fights.”

Fortune hasn’t favoured Chantelle Cameron many times in her career. But when Dillian Whyte pulled out of his scheduled fight with Otto Wallin late last year, Cameron, for once, had some luck. Promoted to the main event when Whyte withdrew through injury, Cameron was given a platform to shine. She didn’t waste it.

Cameron unified the super-lightweight division when she added the IBF title to the WBC belt she already owned when she impressively beat the American Mary McGee on points at the O2 Arena in London. It was impressive, seriously impressive. Cameron was a unanimous and wide winner on the scorecards, this ringside observer had her winning every single round, and I even had thoughts she would stop the brave American at different stages of a thoroughly entertaining and absorbing contest. Cameron showed a different side to her game, she negated her boxing skills somewhat, took the fight to the trenches and won the fight in the manner that should have propelled her career to another level. But over Zoom after a heavy sparring session, Cameron said despite the many plaudits she received it wasn’t her best performance:

“I wouldn’t say it was my best performance. But I showed something different, that I could bite down on my gumshield and have a fight and stand toe-to-toe. But I can box a lot better, I didn’t have to stand there and trade I could just have outboxed her. But I wanted to show I am tough as well.”

The victory and the performance should have taken her career to another level. But since the fight with McGee, Cameron has been left on the outside looking in. By now, Cameron should have had a chance to be the undisputed champion in her division. Kali Reis holds all the remaining belts and was scheduled to have danced with Cameron to fully unify the division. But the fight hasn’t happened, much to the frustration of Cameron:

“I am really frustrated because I signed up for the tournament to be undisputed and that was the plan. But things happen in life, and sometimes it doesn’t go your way. I’m just more frustrated because I have no idea what has actually happened or what’s gone on and it has kind of been forgotten about. I had that fight in October and I thought my career was really going to take off because people saw what I could do. I flew out to America in November and watched Kali against Jessica Camara in the other semi-final and now it has just gone under the radar and nothing seems to be happening it’s all gone quiet again. It’s really frustrating it’s been a bit of a shit time but I am really lucky that my team have got me this title defence otherwise I might not have boxed this year. I’m so grateful that my team have said to get Chantelle back out it’s not fair, there is no reason why the final is not happening. There has been a lot of waiting around and even now there has been a massive delay in my career. After my last fight if they had kept the momentum going then that is when you would have seen the best version of me. But now I just have to get the ball rolling again, have this fight get the win and hopefully I will be kept active.”

Reis posted on her social media in April that the fight with Cameron will still happen, and more than hinted that she is dealing with some things at her end. But the British world champion is seemingly being kept in the dark, and at the time of writing has no idea when the fight for all the belts will happen:

“I don’t know, nobody has said anything and that’s why I have been so frustrated. It is a fight to become undisputed it is not just a routine title defence where you could just fight anyone. We are contracted for all the belts and that is a massive fight. I don’t actually know what’s going on, it’s a bit of a piss-take really. For us both it is a massive fight with all the belts on the line. But for now, I have got May 21st to focus on, I obviously want to be undisputed but if I don’t get past Victoria Bustos then the undisputed won’t happen so I just have to get on with it.”

But this Saturday back at the O2 Arena, Cameron thankfully has something to focus on. A defence of her titles against the former two-weight world champion Victoria Bustos will have to satisfy, at least for now. The focus is Bustos, it isn’t the fight she wanted, but Cameron knows if she overlooks the Argentinian, everything else falls apart as a result. But there is still one eye on the future:

“I just want to focus on May 21st because I don’t want to look past that. But I have already spoken to my team and said after the fight I want an answer on the undisputed fight. I don’t want to wait around another five or six months and just fight once this year because that is no good for me. I want to be in the ring fighting for belts, fighting the other champions. But at the minute I have just been sitting around watching everyone else box basically in the background and being left in the shadows and just getting more and more frustrated.”

The word that keeps coming up is frustration. And Cameron is certainly that. Much of her career has been stop-start and it does leave mental scars. She politely says it is down to luck, and seems to accept that those that shout louder will get the opportunities over the likes of her. The big fights seem to pass her by, Katie Taylor has always been her target, the dream fight that has so far proved too elusive for her. When I suggested that fights like those might not have happened because she was too good for her own good, she just smiled. The smile was probably an indication that she knows and understands the game, others are just more favoured or have more to sell. Just being good isn’t always enough in a sport that is often more fiction than fact:

“I’m not cocky or arrogant I don’t really say much I just let my boxing do the talking. But at the same time, I think what is going on. I keep proving myself I am a unified world champion. They keep talking about it but nothing seems to come off. We’ll see what happens after May 21st but I am fed up now.”

With Reis currently unavailable, there was much talk of a potential fight with Sandy Ryan. It looked very much like we were heading in that direction. The rivalry is one of spite, trust me, there is real venom in the feud, often boiling over on Social Media. Ryan was unbeaten until she came up short against Erica Farias earlier this year. When Farias upset the odds and a lot of plans, words and plenty of them were said in the wonderful world that is Twitter. But despite all the rumours and the probable wishes of the money men, a fight with Ryan wasn’t on her radar:

“Sandy has been screaming and shouting my name out but I wouldn’t have been fighting her she is still basically a novice. She jumped the gun and got beat, so no, I wouldn’t have been fighting her. I had to wait around to get my world title shot so I wouldn’t have been giving her one, she would have had to earn it. Sandy probably got told go and beat Farias and you will get a shot at Chantelle. But that’s happened to me before, I got told I would fight Katie Taylor and that didn’t happen. I have done it the hard way everyone else can.”

All the frustration hasn’t led to bitterness or jealousy. But Cameron clearly wants more, having just turned 31, she wants the big fights and now. Despite all the delays and setbacks in her career Cameron still has hope that the doors will open for her, and her talent is enough to force through a fight with the likes of Taylor or a Jessica McCaskill:

“If you sit dwelling on other people’s careers you just become bitter and a bit of a brat. But if other people are being pushed then good on them, fair play to them. But I am not going to be bitter and some people who have attitudes, they go and get beat. They shout and scream saying they are going to do this or that, thinking they are better than they are and then they go and get beat and they end up looking a bit of an idiot. For me I just want my boxing to do the talking and as frustrating as it can be I just have to be patient. Something will open up for me and I will get that big fight. I might be being a little bit naive or too optimistic but one day it will happen. I will keep doing what I have been doing and one day they will have to give me one of those big fights.”

The future is uncertain for Cameron, a fighter who despite being a unified world champion clearly deserves better. There seems no immediate route to a fight with Taylor, shameless cash-ins against MMA stars like Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm are being touted around over a fight with Cameron. The name of Cameron is merely an afterthought when future Taylor opponents are suggested. Be it Cyborg, Holm or a rematch with Amanda Serrano look like the likeliest options for the undisputed lightweight champion of the world, a dream fight with Taylor looks remote at best for Cameron. I have always said there is a reason why Cameron won’t get the Taylor fight, I believe she wins, and I believe others think that also.

So for now, unless a fight with McCaskill arises from nowhere, Cameron will have to hope that Reis becomes available before the end of the year or she might have to consider that domestic grudge match with Ryan if her rival gets revenge over Farias in their soon to be announced rematch. Boxing hasn’t always been kind to Cameron, but she retains hope her luck will soon change. It needs to, it should do. But luck shouldn’t really come into it.

Photo Credit: Richard Pucci

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