Josh Taylor is in Las Vegas this week working on getting back to full throttle ahead of his next fight but also for a bit of a scouting mission as well.
The undisputed super-lightweight champion has joined trainer Ben Davison, who is part of Devin Haney’s team for the WBC lightweight champion’s upcoming defence against JoJo Diaz, in boxing’s capital city to get some work in of his own and take in Terence Crawford’ latest world title defence.
‘Bud’ Crawford puts his WBO welterweight championship on the line on Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay against former two-time 147lbs champion Shawn Porter. While Taylor is focused fully on his mandatory defence against Jack Catterall next February, he will be keeping a close eye on this weekend’s main event.
“I’m going to the fight and I’m doing a bit of work on the fight itself. I am going as a fan and as a potential future opponent,” Taylor told Boxing Social on Thursday.
Taylor and Crawford met one another this week, exchanged pleasantries but keen-eyed viewers couldn’t help but notice the two scoping each other out likely thinking that one day they may face one another in the ring.
“I knew I was bigger than him,” said ‘The Tartan Tornado’.
“He [Crawford] seems to have filled out a bit over the years. He’s filled into the weight. He’s a little bit thicker than I thought he was but apart from that I knew I was bigger than him.
“Obviously, there was a bit of sizing each other up but it was very respectful. It’s his fight week as well so he’s in the zone so I’m not going to go in there and start causing shit and be disrespectful. We’ve both got a job. I’ve got a job to focus on and that’s Jack Catterall and he’s got a big job on Saturday, so we had a little chat and he congratulated me on my fight against Ramirez and I wished him all the best for Saturday.
“The next again day we went into the gym, his friends were trying to wind me up and I was winding them up. It was all in good spirits. His team, his friends and his coaches are a bunch of good people. It was pretty cool and all-round good natured.”
To the fight then. Terence Crawford v Shawn Porter. A test that looks tricky and potentially uncomfortable but still heavily favoured in the champion’s corner. The challenger is known for his bull-like offensive tactics while Crawford appears to have the greater boxing IQ and the nous to turn Porter’s strengths into his weaknesses. What does the undisputed super-lightweight champion think?
“It’s a 50-50 fight for sure,” his answer begun.
“It’s definitely the toughest opponent Crawford’s faced. I am picking Crawford to win. I think it will be tough at times especially when Porter closes down the range quite quickly and rushes in quickly and gets on top of you and hits you anywhere. He’ll hit you round the back, the back of the head, the legs, the hips, the arms. Where you are he’ll just hit you. He’s very crude and makes it a rough night.
“I think it will be tough at times for Crawford, but I think he’ll weather the storm and he’ll get his rhythm and figure him out and begin outmanoeuvring him and out-boxing him and I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked him into a shot. Having said that Porter is a handful, a big handful. I think he will catch Crawford with big shots, and he will get him unaware sometimes, but I think Crawford will adjust eventually.”
Taylor is no stranger to pressure fighters in the professional ranks himself. From handling Dave Ryan in his seventh fight to winning the IBF world super-lightweight title against Ivan Baranchyk in fight number 15. The Scot has his own ways of tackling those on the front foot.
“It’s being patient,” he said.
“Catch them as they come in. Fight him on your own terms rather than fight his kind of fight. If you stand there and have a bomb out with him it becomes much more his fight than the style of my fight. It’s fighting him on my terms and using my boxing to nullify him and then beating him as a boxer, beating him at mid to long range and fighting him on my terms instead of trying to keep my back off the ropes. I think that is a tactic he’ll [Crawford] try and use and use the ring and his footwork and his angles and his boxing ability.”
On February 26 next year Taylor will make the first defence of his undisputed crown against Jack Catterall in Glasgow. Their Scotland v England clash had been initially scheduled for December 18 but was postponed last month when Taylor had to withdraw due to a knee injury.
“To be honest I don’t know I think it was just wear and tear,” Taylor answered when asked how the problem occurred.
“Started when I got back to proper running, and it was really painful. It got to the point where I couldn’t walk up and down stairs or really do anything. I could still do my boxing training, but I can’t run, I can’t do my strength and conditioning, can’t do an awful lot of stuff but it’s getting better now but I can still do my boxing stuff which is good.”
While the Vegas heat, rather than the opposite in Scotland, aides his recovery Boxing Social asked what the last six months had been like for Taylor. His magnificent win against Jose Carlos Ramirez places him in the history books and has him rightly recognised as one of the world’s best boxers. Becoming undisputed champion at 140lbs was a moment of pride and elation for Taylor but he isn’t forgetting the lack of coverage that the biggest fight of his career got.
“It was a massive win for me in May becoming the first undisputed champion in the four-belt era. First UK fighter to do it on these shores and a massive achievement. So, extremely proud of myself but a little bit frustrating as well in terms of it didn’t get the coverage it should have, it didn’t get the hype that it could have and the week after my fight it was full capacity crowds here in Las Vegas. It was a bit frustrating for me.
“A fight of that magnitude and the history making of it, it was such a huge achievement and it kind of got snubbed by the UK media and I kind of feel if it had been someone else from somewhere else it might have been a bigger deal. It is what it is. I got back and the media was pretty good. I done a lot of media stuff when I got back and had a lot of recognition since I’ve been back which has been good. It’s been pretty jam-packed with TV shows, interviews and getting recognised a lot more where I’ve been going but I’m still the same old me.”
The man from Prestonpans looks set for another memorable 2022 when he and his fiancée Danielle tie the knot next June. However, the groom-to-be would also love nothing more than to pack in three fights which will see him go beyond the 20-bout mark in his career.
“I’ll have my fight in February then I’ll have my stag do then I’ll have my wedding,” he said.
“I’m hoping to get out at least twice next year, but I was really wanting to get out three times. I’ll be staying in the gym all year apart from my wedding and my stag do. Hopefully get out two times, hopefully three if I stay in the gym, stay in shape, pick up no injuries. Get out three times…. but that might be pushing it. Definitely get out twice next year and get two good wins.”