With a stable of boxers including two-weight world champions Carl Frampton and David Haye, it’s easy to see why trainer Shane McGuigan is considered one of the best in the business.
Throw British, Commonwealth and European champion George Groves into the mix and the belts really begin to stack up.
And, having taken Edinburgh’s Josh Taylor under his wing last summer, McGuigan believes he might just have another champion on his hands.
At just 28, McGuigan is three years Taylor’s senior which has helped the pair bond both in and out of the boxing ring – the Scot was a guest at his wedding to Sophie in Majorca last month.
But it’s their rapport within their gym in Battersea, London, however, what will ultimately define their respective careers.
“At the end of the day you’ve both got to be on the same wavelength. If I’m telling Josh something he doesn’t want to do or believes that it is going to benefit him then I’m sure we’ll have that complication,” said McGuigan, who is the youngest son of Cyclone promoter and former WBA featherweight champion Barry. “But right now I understand what his positives are and I also understand what his weaknesses are. Coming on board with myself and the team last year, it’s still fresh in his mind and he’s still excited about it all.
“He’s different to train than other people because he’s so naturally gifted he gets away with a heck of a lot of stuff, and it’s almost hard to tell somebody that when you get to the top level you won’t be able to.
“Josh is very confident and likeable guy and what’s good is he’s in and around a gym where he isn’t the best fighter. He’s still learning. I think he could be but I’ve got some gifted guys here. But natural talent, for sure, he’s got it all. He lacked a little bit of punching power when he came in last summer but we’ve developed that side of things very quickly with him. He’s wanting to learn all the time so for me that’s great.
“I don’t want to discredit all the work he’s done over the years with Terry [McCormack] at Lochend and the GB set-up because he had a great foundation as an amateur. You do see a lot of amateurs not making that transition to elite level and that’s down to them not absorbing the differences in the pro game.”
The duo’s weeks and months of hard graft will once again be put to the test at Meadowbank on Friday evening when Taylor goes head-to-head with Derby’s Dave Ryan for the Commonwealth super-lightweight title. Ryan is a former holder of the belt having defeated current British champion Tyrone Nurse in 2014.
Ryan’s camp ruffled more than a few feathers when the contest, that will be broadcast live on Channel 5, was announced at the Scotsman Hotel in August, none more so than his manager Clifton Mitchell, who predicted that his 33-year-old fighter would “smash Taylor’s face in”.
“They think it’s a step too soon but they don’t have a clue what he’s doing in the gym. Dave Ryan hasn’t really said too much but his manager has been coming out with all this ‘we’re going to smash him’ and all that other b******t,” McGuigan retorted.
“It’s a good process, though, for Josh to overcome and all part of his learning curve. We wouldn’t be taking this risk if we didn’t think he could come through it. He’s going to be in a hard fight, don’t get me wrong, but I know when he gets pushed by people that’s when you see the best of him.
“Dave Ryan has made excuses for all of his nine losses – ‘oh my back’; ‘I haven’t done this’; ‘it’s been too late notice’ – and granted, he has had some good wins. He is a very good domestic boxer but I believe Josh will be too strong for him. All he needs to do is impress me and my dad. If Josh knocks him out early then so be it but I want it to go a few rounds so he can show his class.”
So, was Taylor given the seal of approval to toast the new bride and groom with a glass of champagne at his mentor’s big day six weeks ago?
“No, he didn’t have anything alcoholic at all,” revealed McGuigan. He did some running and stuff and kept himself ticking over whilst he was out there but he’s a true professional. He takes himself very seriously which is great for me as I don’t want the guys to cut corners. I want them to put the graft in.”
• Tickets for this evening of championship boxing at the Meadowbank Arena in Edinburgh on Friday, October 21 are on sale now from www.ticketmaster.co.uk and are priced £40, £60 and £100 VIP.
For VIP Packages please contact firstname.lastname@example.org