SATURDAY’S (June 23) fight between Josh Taylor and Viktor Postol is so good I’ve spent every one of the 54 days since it was announced fully expecting it to be cancelled.
This sounds pessimistic and might not reflect well on those involved with the promotion, but it’s not meant to be taken this way. Instead, it is a testament to the surprise element of it all and says more about the regard in which I hold boxing and its ability to deliver the goods than anything else.
When announced, Taylor vs. Postol was, to me at least, something akin to the white lie a parent tells a child when trying to cajole them to the dentist. “We’re going to McDonald’s,” they might say. You believe it the first time. You go with it. But once burnt, once allowed to salivate only to feel the vibration of a drill, you’ll never make the same mistake again.
Boxing fans have been promised Happy Meals and delivered shock fillings for years (frankly, it comes with the territory). Which is why whenever a fight like Taylor vs. Postol comes along, it’s easy to assume legs are being pulled and that rugs will later be pulled from beneath these legs. You wait for the inevitable withdrawal. The injury. The doctor’s note. The replacement. You wait to read the small print detailing myriad ways disgruntled punters can get back their money. “All part of the wonderfully unpredictable nature of boxing,” they say.
Bill subject to change.
Saturday’s fight between Josh Taylor and Viktor Postol is so good I felt moved to write this article despite the fact I’ve just used a thousand other words to explore its undeniable greatness in this week’s Boxing News. Evidently, more needs to be said, and more attention needs to be given to what represents the best – bravest, craziest – bit of matchmaking seen in Britain so far this calendar year.
Whereas some previews drain the brain and require artificial enthusiasm, a fight like Taylor vs. Postol, this surprising little gem delivered to us at the year’s halfway mark, can’t be discussed enough. It deserves it. It has earned it. Moreover, because of the dynamic at play, and the unnerving sense of risk involved on the part of Taylor and his team, there’s so much to talk about, so much to admire.
Too good to be true. That’s another way of looking at it. Only it is true. With 54 days having passed, and only four more to go, it really does seem as though Josh Taylor, the Scotsman with just 12 pro fights, will actually be fighting Viktor Postol, a former WBC champion whose only loss was against Terence Crawford, at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, live on Channel 5.
1) Josh Taylor has only a dozen pro fights
Josh Taylor turned professional in July 2015, which, according to my calculations, is not even three years ago. Since then, of course, he has emerged as one of the finest talents in the country and his progress has been accelerated as a result. He’s now three years and 12 fights deep.
On his resume you’ll find a few scalps – the likes of Miguel Vazquez, a former IBF lightweight champion, and Ohara Davies – that serve to strengthen those paltry numbers, but, make no mistake, Taylor’s more than entitled to splash about in the shallow end for another 12 months if he was that way inclined.
2) Viktor Postol has 30 pro fights
Viktor Postol, 34, turned professional all the way back in December 2007. That’s over a decade ago. Not only that, he has done the rounds, competing in his native Ukraine, Bosnia, Spain, Russia, Georgia and the United States of America.
That’s not to say the sight and sound of a Glasgow crowd won’t haunt Postol’s dreams for the rest of his life – the likelihood is, it will – but what it does emphasis is the back catalogue of the man and the ease with which he has travelled and performed at the highest level. He might be ‘The Iceman’, but he won’t freeze.
3) Josh Taylor hasn’t been 10 rounds, let alone 12
The furthest Taylor has gone as a professional is two minutes and thirty seconds into the ninth round of a fight against Miguel Vazquez in 2017. That’s it. He’s never done the 10 rounds, much less 12.
In contrast to this, Postol has done the full 12 rounds on six separate occasions and boasts a style – patient, poised, all lateral movement and well-picked punches – that suggests a distance fight is often at the forefront of his mind.
4) Viktor Postol has stopped Lucas Matthysse
Postol is far more than a patient poker and prodder. With just 12 knockouts from 29 wins, it’s tough to argue the virtues of his one-punch power, but, if you look at some of his big wins, Postol undoubtedly has the timing, accuracy and spite to break the heart and will of an opponent down the stretch.
The greatest example of this, perhaps, is Postol’s breakout 11th round stoppage of Lucas Matthysse in 2015. That night Postol, the underdog, did a lot of boxing and a little brawling before eventually beating his heavy-handed Argentine opponent, a man known for violence and KO power, into a kind of wave-the-white-flag submission.
Interestingly, a similar thing happened to Selcuk Aydin, another macho man who believed he’d march forward and whack a skinny Ukrainian around the ring only to find himself slowly dissected and finished in round 11.
5) Josh Taylor is awesome
That’s the word on the street anyway. It sounds strange – Josh Taylor is awesome – because, unlike the other points raised, it lacks hard, tangible evidence and is no more than opinion at this stage.
That said, the whole reason this Postol fight is happening is because Josh Taylor is awesome and seemingly different to all the other British prospects and contenders out there. His talent is different, his composure is different and apparently, based on the bravery of his matchmaking, his ambition is quite a bit different, too.
Admittedly, though, such is boxing’s unforgiving nature, a man who appeared awesome against the likes of Ohara Davies and Miguel Vazquez can just as easily appear awful against someone of Viktor Postol’s ilk. It’s why you go to the efforts of finding out. It’s why fights like this, generally, don’t get made at this point in a young fighter’s career.
6) Viktor Postol has a four-inch reach advantage
Unlike Miguel Vazquez, a decent champion at lightweight (read: undersized as a super-lightweight), Viktor Postol is a tried and tested super-lightweight, one of the biggest boys in the playground.
It’s another aspect of the fight that warms the cockles, for the matchmaker’s code usually dictates that a prospect-cum-contender will fight a dangerous or decorated opponent only if they agree to move up in weight, thus relinquishing a lot of their danger.
Taylor, however, has taken the opposite approach. Within his rights to beat up a geriatric from the weight below, all out of ambition, Taylor has instead ignored the warnings, broken through the fence, and prised open the crocodile’s jaws in order to place his head between them. He’s gone for the experienced former champion yet to show signs of being faded, let alone shot, and, crazier still, plucked one from his own weight class.
It would be a decision deemed ridiculous if it wasn’t so damn refreshing and exciting.
7) Josh Taylor isn’t Terence Crawford
Just so we’re clear, Josh Taylor isn’t Terence Crawford.
Josh Taylor’s from Scotland, for starters. He’s pasty white. He’s new to all this (relatively speaking), and has yet to win a world title, let alone a few of them. He has 12 fights to Terence Crawford’s 33. He is, at 27, three years Crawford’s junior. He’s learning while Crawford is perfecting and is hoping to do everything Crawford, arguably the most gifted American boxer on the planet, is currently in the process of doing.
For now, Terence Crawford is the only man to get the better of Viktor Postol as a professional.
This is a line that needs repeating should Josh Taylor join the exclusive club. It also needs repeating if Josh Taylor gets it all wrong.