Big return: Josh Taylor ready to show the world what boxing fans have been missing

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They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well, Josh Taylor's 15-month exile from a boxing ring has done just that.

He's fit, hungry and raring to go in the Big Apple next month.

Taylor hasn't fought since his controversial victory over Jack Catterall last February. He's packed a lot in during that period. The 32-year-old married childhood sweetheart Danielle in June, severed ties with former coach Ben Davison three months later before his much-anticipated rematch with Catterall in February was postponed after the Tartan Tornado suffered a torn plantar fascia (arch of foot) in training.

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Now working under the tutelage of Liverpool-based mentor Joe McNally, the former undisputed super lightweight king will realise a dream on Saturday, June 10 when he tops the bill at Madison Square Garden against Brooklyn's Teofimo Lopez.

Josh Taylor can't wait to return to the ring in New York.Josh Taylor can't wait to return to the ring in New York.
Josh Taylor can't wait to return to the ring in New York.

“I’ve still got that hunger and motivation – I’ve always had it," Taylor insisted. "It’s just the last fight a little bit of complacency set in which was the worst mistake I ever made. I tried to learn from fighters in the past doing it with fights coming up and overlooking their opponents and paying the price for that.

"At the end of the day, you’re only human. And when you’ve achieved what I’ve achieved in such a short space of time – and you’re the only person from the UK to have done it – you do tend to enjoy it.

“So, yeah, a little bit of complacency crept in and that was the mistake that I made. I won’t be doing that again. You’re a fool if you make the same mistake twice. I’ve still got huge goals in the game. I want to become a two-weight world champion. At light-welter, the weight I’m at now, achievement-wise there’s nothing left for me to do.

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"But there are big fights out there like this one. This is a huge fight. This keeps the fire in my belly and the butterflies in the stomach, the excitement and the nerves. It’s got me buzzing to go to the gym again with a spring in my step.

"I never had that for the last one. I never had that fear factor or the excitement for it. That was the mistake I made. I felt I had just climbed Everest and I was coming back to climb Arthur’s Seat. That was the mentality I had. I ended up lowering my operating level because my mindset wasn’t right. That was the mistake I made and I won’t make that again. For me to achieve my goals I’ve got to win this fight. It’s a big, big fight on both sides of the water. Worldwide this is a huge fight for boxing.”

Taylor rubber-stamped his legacy when he was crowned undisputed champion in Las Vegas in 2021 with victory over the previously undefeated Jose Ramirez. He has since relinquished the WBA, WBC and IBF titles but will defend his WBO strap against Lopez next month.

"At the end of the day, it would’ve been impossible for me to keep all of the belts because I couldn’t get the fights I wanted due to the mandatory defences," Taylor explained. “The WBA was the first to go. They insisted I fight Alberto Puello but I wasn’t interested so I had to let that one go.

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“After that the WBC came in with Jose Zepeda as the challenger and that would’ve been a good fight but the date they wanted was only about a month after my wedding so I wouldn’t have been ready for it.

“I also decided to vacate the IBF title because you need to pay sanctioning fees to them for every defence. I was having to hand over 12 per cent of my purse to them.

“Frankly, it’s almost impossible to remain an undisputed champion and chase all the big fights at the same time."

He continued: "I've got the discipline and a whole new team around me. Obviously when I came back from Vegas in 2021, I took a bit too much time out of the gym, ate too much good-tasting bad food, too many pizzas, Chinese and takeaways, too much beer. I took my eye off the ball and lost my discipline a bit.

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“In between sessions, I was going away and cheating on my diet. I wasn’t focused. I wasn’t dialled in. That was the mistake I made.

"I have a whole new team. My new trainers, Joe McNally and Declan O’Rourke, have made me part of their family and I feel as though we’ve been friends for years.

“They’ve welcomed me with open arms and they’ve been improving me, working on aspects of the game I need to get better on. Plus, I also have a new strength and conditioning coach to help me keep on top of my diet and weight.

“Everyone in my team has a job to do and I feel as though I’ve been born again. I have my feet back under me again and there’s a spring in my step.

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"I’ve actually never been inside Madison Square Garden. I’ve been to New York a couple of times but I’ve never been to the venue. I’ve driven past it a couple of times. When we get there next Friday, we’ll have the weekend to loosen off, get over the flight and the heat and I’ll probably take a wee trip over then to get the juices flowing."

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