Josh Taylor all fired up for first crack at a professional title

Josh Taylor, left, and manager Barry McGuigan. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Josh Taylor, left, and manager Barry McGuigan. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Edinburgh boxing star Josh Taylor has told his sceptics to “write him off at their peril” after it was announced he will fight for the vacant Commonwealth super-lightweight title at Meadowbank in October.

The 25-year-old is expected to face the toughest test of his professional career so far when he goes shoulder to shoulder with a former holder of the belt, Dave Ryan from Derby.

The Capital showdown, which will be broadcast exclusively live by Channel 5 on Friday, October 21, will be the seventh bout the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist has contested since teaming up with manager and former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan last summer.

But, despite registering six consecutive knockouts – all six opponents failing to survive beyond the second round – the former Lochend amateur has had his critics to contend with as some of the sport’s most renowned figures have questioned the level of opposition that has been put in his way.

That observation continued at the Scotsman Hotel when Taylor came face to face with Ryan at the official press conference to announce the fight – the Englishman’s manager and trainer Clifton Mitchell labelling Taylor as an “unknown quantity” and that Ryan is coming “to smash his face in”.

But while acknowledging the Scot possesses all the tools to become one of boxing’s marquee names in the future, the opposition believe this challenge has come a little too soon for the Prestonpans man.

Asked for a response to both Ryan and Mitchell’s remarks, Taylor told the Evening News: “There will be people saying it’s too big a jump too soon but they can think that if they want. I don’t care as I know where I can hurt him. He comes forward to fight so that’s great, everyone else I’ve fought has just come to survive so it’s hard to look good against that.

“His manager is very opinionated and wants to be heard. He said Ryan’s going to smash my face in, well I could turn round and say that about him. I know they are underestimating me saying ‘he’s just an amateur, he’s never been around’ but I know how tough I am and I know I can fight. I think they will get a shock at how sharp and fast I can be in the ring.

“I’m glad they think that about me and that I’m not ready for this,” Taylor continued. “I hope Ryan goes and trains like a machine and is in the best shape so I can see if he is still saying that after I’ve beaten him. If John Wayne Hibbert (who Ryan lost the Commonwealth super-lightweight belt to in December) can put him down, I definitely can put him down. It’s a chance for him to come and get his title back which he thinks he has already done.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that it will be a tough fight. He’s beaten the current British champion Tyrone Nurse and only lost his last Commonwealth fight to Hibbert due to a back injury and he has been in 12 hard-round fights before so he’s got pedigree there. He’s much more experienced than me as a pro so it’s a big step up. But I’ve watched him and I can see things in his game that I can and will expose.”

Taylor alluded to the fact that it has been two years this month since he won Commonwealth gold with victory over Namibian Junias Jonas at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. Now, he has his heart firmly set on a second Commonwealth title, only this time it will be a paid boxer and in his hometown of Edinburgh.

“This really is a massive opportunity for me,” he said. “It’s only my seventh pro fight, in front of my own fans, friends and family at Meadowbank, ten minutes from my house ... what more could I have asked for?

“With Channel 5 coming up here to broadcast it live, it also says a great deal so what a night it’s going to be. It’s two years on from the gold I won at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this month and I’m going to be fighting for a Commonwealth title in my hometown. It must be fate! I’ve fought in America, Wales and Ireland so far in my pro career so this is a chance for people who haven’t seen me to come and do so.

“I’m really excited. Now that I’ve seen him in the flesh and had the press conference, it all feels real. I’m literally going to think about nothing other than how I can beat Dave Ryan for the next eight weeks.”

Tickets are on sale from 10am today and are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk or telephone 0844 844 0444.