SCOTLAND’S Josh Taylor isn’t deliberately going out of his way to beat up veteran Mexicans. He didn’t intend to follow a ninth round stoppage of Miguel Vasquez, a former IBF lightweight champion, with a March 3 date against Humberto Soto, a former WBC super-featherweight champion. It just happened that way.
If anything, a habit of selecting and then chipping away at Mexicans is indicative of the need to give a promising, heavy-handed fighter rounds. Go Mexican, Taylor knows, and, at the very least, he will be made to work.
“It seems to be the trend just now, two Mexicans in a row,” he tells Boxing News, laughing. “They’re quality fighters, though, and you know what you’re getting with a Mexican.
“I watched Soto against Lucas Matthysse and another couple of fights where he was on top. He’s your typical Mexican fighter: tough as nails.
“He’s a good fighter. He’s got it all really. He can come forward, he can fight, he can box, he’s got a good defence, he’s a very good body puncher, and he’s a very good with his left hand. He varies his shots very well.
“I’m expecting quite a tough fight. We’re expecting him to be up for it and have a go. But it’s a fight I’m very confident of winning and I believe I can stop him, too.”
Such was Miguel Vasquez’s reputation for toughness, it came as something of a surprise when Taylor managed to grind him down and stop him in round nine last November. The fight was competitive for the most part, Vasquez proving an awkward, game customer, but Taylor, in remaining one step ahead and eventually halting a man never before stopped, showed he was more than just a run-of-the-mill British prospect. He also signalled the arrival of a new force at 140lbs.
“It was good,” Taylor, 27, says of the performance. “I’ve watched it back a couple of times and seen a few things I need to work on and could have done better, but that’s the benefit of hindsight. I was marching forward at times, being a bit careless, diving in, and getting one big shot off and then getting caught with silly shots. It was just a few wee things like that.
“They are things I will have to fix and tighten up with this next fight. I believe Soto is a better fighter than Vasquez in all departments and I need to be switched on.”
If pressed, Taylor would argue both Vasquez and Soto are vastly superior to the man with whom he was once, for a short period of time, synonymous: Ohara Davies. Yet it is Davies, the controversial Londoner humbled by Taylor in July, who remains a talking point, and therefore someone his conqueror is keen to ignore.
“I don’t know how he’s still got the brass neck to carry on the way he does,” says Taylor. “He still goes around calling fighters ‘bums’ and this and that. I don’t know how he can do that when he conducted himself the way he did during the fight, and even at the press conference when he made all these excuses. He said he couldn’t breathe through his nose and all that sort of stuff.
“But it is what it is. I’ve been there and done that. It’s happened. I’m moving on now. I’m happy to forget about him really.”
Taylor, having beaten Vasquez and now arranged to fight Soto, hasn’t had to make a conscious decision to leave Ohara Davies in the dust. It has, instead, happened organically. He has moved on. He has surpassed him. And the farfetched idea of a rematch, if such a thing even appeals, would be one ridiculed by Taylor and presumably many others.
Besides, the man from Edinburgh has bigger fish to fry. Right now, he’s thinking not of Ohara Davies but of names like Mikey Garcia and Sergey Lipinets. He’s dreaming only of world titles.
“I don’t think I could have planned my career better if I tried,” says Taylor, 11-0 (10). “It’s gone perfectly so far. I’m really happy with the fights I’ve had, and the performances I’ve had.
“I’m actually a wee bit surprised the big fights have come around as quickly as they have. I always knew I would be involved in big fights and had the potential to go all the way but it’s happened sooner than I expected.
“This time next year I’d love to be a world champion. I can’t look past Humberto Soto, I’m focusing on that just now, but the goal is to become a world champion.
“Lipinets and Garcia are the two biggest names out there right now, but there are a lot of top fighters in the division. And I strongly believe I have the talent to live with them all.”
At this point, it’s all about finding durable opponents capable of living with ‘The Tartan Tornado’.”
Step forward Humberto Soto.