Since her days as a Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Jean-Claude Van Damme loving teenager, Chantelle Cameron has always dreamed of triumphing on the biggest stages possible.
The 30-year-old has withstood plenty of tough times and disappointments throughout her career – from missing out on the 2016 Olympics due to a controversial split decision loss to the disintegration of her managerial and training relationship with the McGuigans.
During her bleakest, darkest hours – as she herself has admitted – Cameron seriously considered hanging up her boxing gloves, making the switch to MMA or walking away from competitive sport forever.
There have been other times, frustrating times, when it seemed like the big nights, the world title fights, the high-profile showdowns would simply never arrive. How very different life is now for the Northampton-born power-puncher. Since October 2020, Cameron has reigned as the WBC super-lightweight champion, she has defended her title in Las Vegas and the next time she enters the ring – on October 30 at the O2 Arena in London – she will do so in a massive unification contest against IBF titlist Mary McGee.
With the victor scheduled to square off against the winner of the WBA, IBO and vacant WBO title showdown between Kali Reis and Jessica Camara for all the belts and the status of undisputed 140lbs champion, Cameron is well aware that the next two fights could change her life forever and define her career and legacy.
“I’m so excited,” Cameron enthuses to Boxing Social over her hands-free car phone as she drives to Manchester for another week of training under Jamie Moore and Nigel Travis.
“What an opportunity, what a chance!” she continues. “I can’t wait and I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I knew this tournament was on the cards from a few months ago, but then nothing much was happening, although things were going on behind the scenes. Then about two weeks ago I found out it was all official.”
One of Cameron’s most endearing qualities is her inherent honesty. She admits – for example – that her most recent fight in Vegas was halted – to her mind – prematurely.
“The stoppage was a bit annoying,” is her assessment of her fifth-round TKO of Melissa Hernandez. “It was an early stoppage, I don’t think it was fair to be honest. Sure, I was going to stop her anyway but I wanted the chance to stop her properly. It was a much easier fight than I’d expected and than I’d trained for. I think from the first shot I threw I earned her respect and straight away she was on the the back foot and didn’t really want to know.”
Cameron is grateful for the experience of having fought in ther United States, but also confesses she is happy to be back home again for her next bout.
“I can’t wait to box in the UK again,” she says. “It’s been a long time since I’ve boxed in the UK with fans there. It was a great experience in Vegas. I had an amazing time over there. Beforehand I was a bit worried that I would find boxing abroad very different to boxing in the UK but I settled in quickly.”
As for the tournament she is about to participate in, the resolutely grounded Cameron is taking nothing for granted. She won’t – for example – countenance discussing the ifs and buts of who she thinks will prevail in the other 140lbs ‘semi-final’ between Reis and Camara.
“I’m just focusing on my fight to be honest, not theirs. Focusing on their fight is going to do nothing for me. The best woman will win between Kali and Jessica and hopefully I’ll meet them in the final.”
And Cameron’s assessment of her opponent, Mary McGee? Usually so modest and self-effacing, Cameron ends with a touch of convincing bravado, re-emphasising that beneath her good natured exterior lurks a steely and confident competitor.
“She’s tough, she’s hungry, but I think I’m an all-round better boxer than her,” Cameron stresses. “She relies on her power but I don’t think she’s that powerful. She’s also a bit wild with her shots.
“I need to be switched on and I need to box her. I can punch hard and I think she’s under-estimating my power. I think she’s in for a big shock.”
Main image: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA.