Josh Taylor sat in front of the TV in his Prestonpans home taken aback by the resilience of Paul Malignaggi as the American lost the WBO world super lightweight title to Miguel Cotto in June 2006.
Then, aged 15, Taylor was just beginning to test the water in the world of boxing having hit the heights as a British taekwondo champion.
And, although the Scot went on to enjoy an illustrious amateur boxing career that culminated in winning gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Taylor is the first to admit he could not have envisaged that a decade on he would be starring alongside Malignaggi on a world title bill as a paid fighter.
The Cyclone star, now 25, contests his sixth pro bout tonight against Evincii Dixon of Pennsylvania at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, where stable-mate Carl Frampton goes toe-to-toe with reigning champion Leo Santa Cruz for the WBA world super featherweight belt. Malignaggi is also in action tonight against Gabriel Bracero in a star-studded card.
“I grew up watching Malignaggi and thought he was just awesome,” Taylor recalled. “I remember his fight against Cotto like it was yesterday sitting glued to the telly, and even though he lost and had to have his jaw strapped together, he showed great determination to keep going forward and finish the fight. So, now to be on the same card as him fighting in New York of all places is just mad.
“It’s going to be massive tonight. You’ve got also Mikey Garcia (WBO world super featherweight champion) boxing, Malignaggi fighting so I’m going to be mixing it with some pretty big names again. A lot of the big fights take place in New York so it’s brilliant to be involved and I can’t wait to get in there and do the business.
“It’s only my sixth pro fight and it will be the second time I’ve fought out in America. It’s also another world title undercard so not many British fighters have done that so early in their careers.”
Taylor has spent the last three weeks in the Big Apple sparring in some of the city’s most famed gyms. Not even the likes of former IBF super featherweight world champion Argenis Mendez could faze the 2012 London Olympian, a performance that even prompted Frampton himself into tweeting ‘just witnessed one of the most skilful spars I’ve ever seen between Josh Taylor and Argenis Mendez. Couldn’t take my eyes off it’.
Although fully focused on tonight’s task, Taylor is backing Frampton to prevail over Mexican Santa Cruz in what will be the Northern Irishman’s second world title showdown in just five months having outscored Scott Quigg in February to retain his IBF world super-bantamweight belt and take his opponent’s WBA crown.
“Carl is looking phenomenal. It’s going to be a tough fight as Santa Cruz is a champion but having been with Carl right throughout this camp both in London and here in New York, he is just looking so strong,” explained Taylor. “It’s going to be some fight and I’m really looking forward to seeing it once I’m out of the ring. But, this is a massive opportunity for me and it is a great platform to show what I can do. I’ve had a great training camp too and just want to add another ‘W’ to my record.
“I’m hopeful it won’t be too long before my next fight is finalised. I think I am going to be back boxing in Scotland in October again, but I don’t know if it’s going to be Meadowbank or Glasgow. I really hope it’s Meadowbank though because I can’t wait to come back again.”
Taylor had been hoping his parents and girlfriend Danielle would be in amongst the 18,000 capacity crowd in Brooklyn tonight but revealed the sky-high prices being quoted for accommodation meant it simply became impractical.
“It’s just going to be too expensive,” he said. “The flights aren’t too bad but the price of hotels and what have you is just extortionate. Hopefully next time I’m out there I’ll be able to bring them out myself!”