Josh Taylor thinks big as city bout is confirmed

Josh Taylor works out with manager Barry McGuigan on Calton Hill. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Josh Taylor works out with manager Barry McGuigan on Calton Hill. Pic: Ian Georgeson

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JOSH TAYLOR will fulfil a dream when he headlines a professional boxing show at Meadowbank on Friday, October 16.

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist will top the bill against Hungarian opponent Adam Mate at Cyclone Promotions’ ‘Lift off’ event.

While Taylor is relishing the opportunity to box at a venue he knows well from his time as an amateur, the 24-year-old from Prestonpans admits fighting at bigger, alternative venues across the city is on his radar.

“Boxing at Murrayfield one day would just be amazing,” Taylor told the Evening News. “Having 60,000 people there would be a big ask but maybe one of the two football grounds could be used. I’m a Hibs fan so Easter Road would be great but so would Tynecastle. It would be great for Edinburgh.

“That’s certainly a future goal of mine but thoughts of boxing at those kinds of venues are a long way off. I’m just at the start of the road so I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me before I can start seriously thinking about that.”

The Prestonpans star has yet to contest a pro fight on these shores having made his debut as a paid boxer in El Paso, Texas last month, a fight that lasted little more than four minutes as he stopped US-based Liberian Archie Weah in round two.

But, with the confirmation of October’s fight, his dream of boxing in front of his own fans is beginning to feel all so real.

“I walked into the room [at yesterday’s press conference] and saw the big poster of myself and thought ‘wow’. I looked the size of (WBC international heavyweight champion) Anthony Joshua! But seeing all the press and TV cameras there and my manager Barry McGuigan talking me up, you wouldn’t believe this was all happening to a wee guy from Prestonpans.

“But hopefully it’s the start of a lot of big things and I can’t wait to get going and bring big nights back to Edinburgh.

“I hope to be having a lot of my big fights here in the city. The last one to really do it was Alex Arthur and the nights he had here were awesome. So that’s exactly what I want to do. I think the last fight I had here was as an amteur in 2011 after the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and that was a great day with all my friends and family there supporting me. I know Barry believes in me and I am buying into to that too. It’s going to be a tough fight against the Hungarian boy but that’s what I want. He’s had 15 wins and eight of them have come by knockout so he’s got good experience.

“But I believe I have the ability to deal with it and can hopefully put him away and get ready for the next one.”

Taylor revealed he had thought about curtailing his amateur career and turning pro after winning silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games at the age of just 19, but admitted that after some consideration, any move would have been premature.

“The pro and amateur games are obviously two completely different sports,” he said. “I did think about going pro back then but I had only started boxing a couple of years before those Games in 2010 so that would have been a gamble.

“I’ve been all over the world now as an amateur so I’ve had plenty experience and feel I have the ability to deal with whatever comes my way.

“I don’t want to rush things too quickly. I still need to pace myself, but that all comes with getting more fights under my belt. There are lot of good fighters out there but I feel I can deal with them, especially domestically.”

The southpaw continued: “I’m not always going to be looking for a knockout but, if I hit you correctly, then I’m going to hurt you. The ones that they don’t see coming are going to be the problem.

“With the small gloves on you can hurt people – the gloves are one of the big differences between the pros and amateurs.”

Taylor accepts stiffer opposition lies ahead than that of the journeyman he encountered in Texas six weeks ago. But, despite securing his first stoppage as a pro – an outcome most boxers would settle for in a heartbeat – Taylor admitted he had hoped the bout would have progressed a little longer than the second round.

“I did think it was a little bit premature in the referee stopping it as I never got the chance to finish him off,” he explained.

“I was just starting to find my range and hit him with some good shots so I wanted to finish the fight properly. But I got the win all the same and that was the most important thing.

“It wasn’t too much of a surprise to be making my debut so far from home, I’m used to it so that didn’t bother me.

Cyclone Promotions, managed by former world featherweight champion McGuigan, beat off some of the sport’s 
biggest promoters to acquire Taylor’s signature in April and the Irishman admits he is ready to fastrack Taylor right to the the top.

“Boxers are notoriously sensitive to what people say, but this guy is so talented,” McGuigan said.

“We’re hitting the ground running with him. He’s perfectly suited to the pro game and is so natural. He’s got a tremendous right hook to the body so I’m very excited with what lies ahead for Josh.”