THERE’S a storm brewing in Scotland this year and he goes by the name of the “Tartan Tornado.”
Josh Taylor’s 2017 went surprisingly quick as he swept through every obstacle put in front of him. Starting with a warm-up points win over Alfonso Olvera in Vegas last January, he then dispatched Warren Joubert in six rounds, dismantled Ohara Davies in seven and halted quality Mexican Miguel Vasquez in nine.
After all he displayed in the ring last year, Taylor thinks it won’t be long before he’s fighting on a big stage for world honours.
“Without sounding big-headed, I am not surprised at where I am now. When I turned pro, I expected fights like this to happen and I expected to be fighting for world titles,” said Taylor, who is unbeaten in 11 contests with all but one inside the distance.
“I expect to be at the top of the game. I just didn’t think it would happen as quick as it has. If I could try and place a better start to my career, I probably couldn’t. I had four phenomenal performances in 2017 and I’m really proud that I have shown my potential. People are starting to see it and recognize me as a real top prospect.”
Scotland’s 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist will next fight another tough Mexican in former two-weight world champion Humberto Soto, 66-9-2 (36), on March 3 at the SSE Arena in Glasgow, and it’s another challenge where Taylor believes he can strengthen his case to the light-welterweight division’s world champions.
“They’ve matched me really well and (trainer) Shane McGuigan has nurtured me into a better fighter. He’s developing me and I’m proving that every day in the gym. I can adapt to any style put in front of me. I can box at range or I can stand toe-to-toe with the best of them and beat them. It doesn’t matter to me because my goal is to become world champion and to do that, you have to fight everybody in your way.”
Taylor made his professional debut in the States and is ranked No. 5 in the WBC rankings. With the previously undisputed light-welterweight champion Terence Crawford moving on and Mikey Garcia joining the 140lbs ranks, Taylor’s trainer McGuigan is confident the 27-year-old can return to the States as a dominant force.
“He’s a fighter that I would never try and keep away from certain opponents,” said McGuigan.
“I believe he has the ability to beat anybody in the 140lbs division. That’s a great fighter to work with. He can overcome any challenge and Mikey Garcia is one of the best pound for pound fighters out there, let alone Josh’s division. But in three or four fights time, I believe Josh Taylor can beat them all. We could even move up to welterweight and clear that lot out. The plan is to get him a world title at home and then take him back to the States.”
Taylor added: “I’d like to fight them all and everyone keeps ruling out Mikey Garcia but I think I would do awesome against Garcia. I’ve got too much speed for him, my foot work is better than his. He hits really hard and comes at you like a train but I’ve been sparring with people two or three weights above me at middleweight so I’m used to the heavy handed guys already. Lets be honest before that big fight, I will be a bag of nerves in the changing room but once I step through those ropes, I’ll be full of confidence and it will be the best fight of my career.”
Taylor is adamant that the Hall of Famer and former world champion Barry McGuigan and his family are the only ones that can guide him to the top of the sport, and that relationship was solidified almost instantly.
“I had offers from Eddie Hearn, Frank Warren and MTK Global but a phone call from Barry persuaded me that he was the man to go with,” Taylor said.
“My dad said it was the team to go with because it’s a close knit group. I was going to the boxing writers’ dinner in 2014 to collect Amateur Boxer of the Year on the train and I got a call from a withheld number.
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“This was five weeks after the Commonwealth Games and my dad said, ‘Hurry up! Answer it. It might be important.’ I answered and all I needed to hear was, ‘hello Josh, it’s Barry McGuigan.’ My jaw dropped and I went back to my dad with a big smile to tell him Barry McGuigan wants to sign me. That was my mind made up then. I didn’t need to speak to anyone else.”
It’s only January and there is calm before the storm but Taylor says he is prepared to ride some big waves this year.
“My dream is within my grasp but I’m just enjoying this fast ride that has happened so quickly,” he said.
“It’s a really exciting year and I am prepared to jump in the deep end if I have to.”