“It’s just like being on the beach in Prestonpans before jumping into the sea,” was the analogy Josh Taylor used in reference to the gruelling ice baths he’s been subjected to ahead of his boxing debut in Las Vegas next weekend.
The Commonwealth super-lightweight champion is nine days away from entering the ring at the world-renowned MGM Grand in what will be just his eighth professional bout since teaming up with Cyclone Promotions and former WBA featherweight champion, Barry McGuigan, 18 months ago.
And, although the 26-year-old is putting the finishing touches to an eight-week training camp 5000 miles away in the state of Nevada, thoughts of home are never too far away.
“It’s absolutely baltic, like really baltic but these ice baths are so good for your recovery. Your body feels so much better once you’ve been in but boy it’s tough,” said Taylor, who took time out to speak to the Evening News from the team’s rented accommodation that is located just minutes from the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas Boulevard.
“I’ve been out here almost two weeks now so things are going well. It’s been really hard going – my legs are shot to pieces at the moment but I think the camp has been excellent. The sparring has been tough to say the least. I’ve been training with Shawn Porter (former IBF world welterweight champion) and he is such a tank.
“I have really had to use my strength and keep moving about but I’ve been doing really well, I’ve landed some good shots and have even outboxed him at times. It’s been a great confidence booster to be in there with a former world champion who is the weight above me.”
Taylor can at least draw some comfort from the fact his stablemate and two-weight world champion Carl Frampton is also feeling the effort each day. the Northern Irishman headlines next Saturday’s bill when he makes the first defence of his WBA super-featherweight title against Mexican Leo Santa Cruz – an opponent he overcame to win the belt in New York six months ago.
“It’s been pretty intense training twice per day six days a week but we know what’s at stake,” Taylor explained. “It’s been good going through everything with Carl.
“We’ve got permanent facilities over here so we know where we’re going and what we’re doing each day.
“We’re living in a big house that’s got its own gym and a boxing ring so it makes it a lot easier if we still want to work on some things having come back from the gym. There’s even a chef coming in twice a day to make our meals so the food’s been amazing which isn’t something I can often say during camps.
“Seeing Carl’s face on billboards around the strip is just giving me that extra motivation to train hard and hopefully be where he is just now at some point in my career. I’m getting to see everything first hand.
“There’s been a lot of fans waiting outside the gym where we’ve been training just to catch a glimpse of Carl and have a picture taken or autograph signed. It makes it even better that he’s my stablemate which means it’s closer to home I suppose. If he can do it, then why can’t I?”
The 2014 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist is still to paired with an opponent but has been told by McGuigan to expect a much stiffer test than the one he faced at Meadowbank in October when he scooped his first pro title with a fifth-round stoppage of Derby’s Dave Ryan.
“I’ve had a couple of opponents given to me but one pulled out with injury and the American Board are being funny with some of the others,” he said. “Barry is still working on it but he’s been talking about putting me in with guys who are like 23-0 whereas I’ve only had seven fights!
“At the same time, Barry knows it’s a big risk for little reward so we’ll need to see what he thinks is best. If it was for a title or for more money then it would make more sense. I’m sure I’ll get one sorted soon enough though.”
Taylor revealed he has been afforded the time to venture into the likes of Caesar’s Palace and see what all the fuss is about for himself. And, with mum and dad, Diane and James, and girlfriend Danielle due to arrive next week, he’s already scoped out the ideal place for a post-fight slap-up meal.
“I don’t really know how to describe this place – it’s just mad. Everything’s just so big and spectacular,” he said.
“There’s a restaurant I spotted called the Heart Attack Grill where you can get burgers that have 10,000 calories and they’re about a foot-and a-half high! I can’t wait until after the fight so I can eat at that place. I’m sure I’ll push myself up to 75 kilos having one of those!
“It will be good to have my family out, though, and have some time with them after.
“I’ve walked through a couple of the big casinos already. It’s not that busy during the day but I imagine it would be different at night. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough!”