Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall: Scot may be overlooked but is eyeing even bigger prizes

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That Josh Taylor is criminally underrated is no secret to those who have paid close attention to The Tartan Tornado’s journey.

When all eyes have been on Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua’s quests to reach undisputed status, there is a man north of the border who can lay claim to that accolade.

In truth, it has been a remarkable rise for the man hailing from Edinburgh. 

In just his 18th professional contest, Taylor lay claim to all the light welterweight belts. To put that in perspective, it took the same amount of fights for Floyd Mayweather to win a single WBC belt, Tyson Fury 25 fights to be crowned king of the heavyweights and Canelo Alvarez 37 fights to win his first world title.

Josh Taylor is still criminally underrated despite reaching boxing's summit last year

Josh Taylor is still criminally underrated despite reaching boxing’s summit last year

Granted those three superstars did not boast the same amateur pedigree as the Scot, who arrived relatively late to the professional scene in 2015 having won silver and gold at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games respectively.

But he quickly demonstrated that he has the tools to challenge anybody in the division, with his 2017 victory over then-prodigious talent Ohara Davies cementing Taylor’s status as a man to watch out for. 

Taylor then racked up the WBC silver title and defended that belt three times. His performances put him among the most dangerous fighters in his division and he was included in the World Boxing Super Series light welterweight tournament. 

A seventh-round stoppage of Ryan Martin saw Taylor challenge for a world title for the first time, taking on Ivan Baranchyk in the tournament’s semi final in Glasgow. 

The Scottish light-welterweight made history in May after beating Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas

The Scottish light-welterweight made history in May after beating Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas

Taylor (L) arrived in the professional ranks late after an illustrious career as an amateur fighter

Taylor (L) arrived in the professional ranks late after an illustrious career as an amateur fighter

Taylor rose to the occasion, putting on a masterful, shutout performance to defeat the Belarusian by unanimous decision to win the IBF title and book his place in the final, a mouthwatering clash with WBA champion Regis Prograis. 

The silky smooth, then-undefeated American was by far the biggest test in Taylor’s career and the Scot demonstrated in no uncertain terms that he belongs at the top table. earning a majority decision victory at the O2 Arena to become unified champion – taking home the WBA belt with his IBF crown.

A routine, first round knockout victory over Apinun Khongsong followed, before Taylor set his sights on a feat no other Briton had accomplished in the modern, four-belt era.

WBO and WBC champion Jose Ramirez, like Prograis before him, was undefeated before he met Taylor. 

Taylor racked up a strong record and earned himself a place in the World Boxing Super Series

Taylor racked up a strong record and earned himself a place in the World Boxing Super Series

He met Regis Prograis in the tournament's final and earned a majority decision win to become unified world champion

He met Regis Prograis in the tournament’s final and earned a majority decision win to become unified world champion

Like the American, he was unable to solve the Scot’s puzzle and Taylor added the American’s two belts to his collection, becoming the fifth undisputed world champion and the first Brit to do it in the modern (four belt) era. 

‘I’ve dedicated my life to this moment,’ Taylor said. ‘I’ve dreamt of it so many times. I’m so, so happy.’

And while his native Edinburgh went wild following their man’s achievement, the rest of the nation – and the more casual sports fan – seemingly overlooked Taylor’s seismic achievement.

The Scottish fighter celebrates with his trophy and belts after winning the title in London

The Scottish fighter celebrates with his trophy and belts after winning the title in London

He then travelled to Las Vegas to become undisputed world champion, beating Jose Ramirez

He then travelled to Las Vegas to become undisputed world champion, beating Jose Ramirez

Taylor returned, curiously, to a fairly muted reception, with a story surrounding his belts being misplaced seemingly getting more attention than his achievement in the States.

It all came to a head late last year when he was harshly omitted from the BBC’s six-person shortlist for Sport Personality of the Year. Fury, Lewis Hamilton, Emma Raducanu, Tom Daley, Adam Peaty and Sarah Storey all got the nod ahead of Taylor. 

He took to Twitter: ‘May 22nd 2021. First person In the UK to become undisputed world boxing champion in the 4 belt era & hold all the championship belts. #HistoryMaker shove yer SPOTY right up a***!’ 

Last month, there appeared no sign of Taylor getting the recognition he deserves with Boxing rankings website Boxrec placing the Scot fourth in their list of Britain’s best pound-for-pound fighters, behind Fury, Joshua and Callum Smith.

However, despite his amazing achievement he was overlooked for last year's SPOTY list

However, despite his amazing achievement he was overlooked for last year’s SPOTY list

‘Number 4? What more do I gotta do to get some respect put on my name’, he said.

Perhaps pitting his wits against a fellow undisputed champion may result in the credit Taylor is unfathomably lacking. Having conquered his division, the Scot is eyeing a move up where there are plenty of dangerous options. Of the possible foes, Taylor has his eyes on one man. 

‘I would like to go up to 147 and chase big fights like [Terence] Crawford,’ Taylor said. ‘I am not going to call him out, he is a great fighter, but two undisputed champions going at it would be awesome.’ 

Now Taylor is eyeing bigger prizes and wants to take on welterweight king Terence Crawford

Now Taylor is eyeing bigger prizes and wants to take on welterweight king Terence Crawford

But first his sights are set on challenger Jack Catterall in an all-British battle this weekend

But first his sights are set on challenger Jack Catterall in an all-British battle this weekend

‘My goal and ambitions is to become a two-weight world champion, longer term goals, set new goals, new targets. So I want to become a two-weight world champion and so the only way to do that would be to move up to welterweight and challenge guys like Terence Crawford, your Ugas, your Spences, things like that. And I believe I can win these fights as well.’ 

First, though, the goal is to come through Saturday night unscathed. He has a tough challenger in Jack Catterall, but Taylor is adamant that, like Ramirez and Prograis before him, the skill gap will be too large for the Englishman to bridge.

‘He’s a good fighter, I’ve got a lot of respect for Jack. But he will come up short. He will taste his first defeat as a professional,’ he said.

‘He’s a good fighter. He just isn’t as good as I am.

‘It is a step up in class for him because he hasn’t boxed at the level that I have. He is a talented fighter but he hasn’t got what it takes to beat me.’ 

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