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The belts tying up Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor
Josh Taylor being tied in knots by the belts he’s trying to retain while a Billy Joe comeback might be on the cards, writes George Gigney

SINCE his controversial win over Jack Catterall a few months ago, Josh Taylor has fallen out of favour with many boxing fans. Some of that derision is a little unfair; he had no control over the judges’ scorecards. He also shouldn’t be chastised too harshly for his reaction to the result (he still insists he did more than enough to earn the decision). Fighters often aren’t the best judges of their own bouts.

However he hasn’t done much to help his case. He’s mocked Catterall for being (rightfully) upset about the decision, though in fairness Jack has also been sending digs on social media.

Now, Taylor and his team are apparently eyeing up a move that will no doubt further enrage those who are holding the Catterall debacle against him. According to Top Rank President Todd Duboef, who spoke to Sky Sports about this, they are working on a fight with Jose Zepeda at 140lbs.
After the Catterall fight Taylor spoke about how difficult it is for him to keep making the super-lightweight limit and strongly suggested that he will now move to welterweight. While the Zepeda fight is an interesting one, a rematch with Catterall should be Taylor’s first priority.

According to his trainer Ben Davison, that is the fight Taylor wants most. The main problem is the various different sanctioning bodies demanding Taylor fight their mandatory challengers – he’s already had to give up one of his belts because of this. In order to fight Catterall again, Taylor would likely have to relinquish more – if not all – of his titles.

It’s a system that almost punishes fighters for winning ‘world’ titles. They have to adhere to mandatory challengers – and the rankings of these sanctioning bodies are often ridiculous. The WBO, for example, did not retain Catterall in its top two 140lb contenders after his showing against Taylor.

Plus, as Andre Ward spoke about this week, fighters have to shell out percentages of their purse in order to fight for these sanctioning body titles. The more titles you hold, the more you’re paying out.

Prior to her win over the weekend, Chantelle Cameron wrote an op-ed for ESPN to discuss the prospect of female fighters having three-minute rounds in their fights. It’s a topic that has been raised countless times in the past, though it’s encouraging to see yet another successful and active fighter use a prominent outlet to champion the idea.

Cameron also posits the notion that female fighters cannot expect to be paid the equivalent of male fighters if they’re boxing for less time each fight. While that’s true, it’s not the only factor in play. As Cameron points out, three-minute rounds would likely lead to more stoppages in women’s boxing, which creates more excitement and attracts more attention.

We need more figures within boxing – particularly those with a lot of influence – to keep banging the drum for three-minute rounds in women’s boxing. We’ll surely get there eventually, but why is it taking so long?

Promoter Eddie Hearn told talkSPORT that he is in contact with Billy Joe Saunders’ team about a return to action. After his stoppage loss to Canelo Álvarez last year, during which he sustained a nasty eye injury, Saunders spoke earnestly about retiring from the sport.

According to Hearn, however, he may well continue fighting, with bouts against the likes of John Ryder and Chris Eubank Jnr floated as ideas. Both would be rematches and both would be fascinating in their own way.

Saunders will also want to call time on his career off the back of a more favourable result and performance, which could tempt him back into the ring. He is by no means past his sell-by date and could still have a lot to offer. The concern is that he might not be physically and mentally in the right place to return to action, particularly at a high level.

Canelo fractured Saunders’ eye socket in their fight, an injury that can have serious repercussions. Plus, if Saunders truly was ready to retire, that can be quite a big U-turn to make. Ultimately, if he decides to continue fighting, we would all want him to do so in the best possible condition and on his own terms.

Broadcasts

In a recent edition of this column we looked at encouraging viewing figures for boxing on both DAZN and ESPN. We can now also add Showtime to that list after it was confirmed the recent broadcast of Jermell Charlo’s win over Brian Castaño attracted a peak audience of 832,000.

That makes it the most-watched boxing fight on Showtime in the past three years. Just as with the successful broadcasts on DAZN and ESPN in recent weeks, this one was not topped by a bonafide superstar.

Going into this neither Charlo nor Castaño was a household name in the US. So such strong viewing figures further proves how well the sport is doing overall. It also shows the value of rematches, after Charlo and Castaño took part in a hellacious scrap last year.

Speaking on Piers Morgan Uncensored, former heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko revealed he was on the verge of pursuing a rematch with Tyson Fury, who beat him in 2015. He has spoken about this recently, but here he admitted he was closer than we previously thought to going through with it.

Of course, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown any return to the ring for Klitschko into doubt. And understandably so; Wladimir is focusing on defending his country. However he did finish his discussion with Morgan by saying there is a “question mark” over a return, rather than a definitive full stop.

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