Scottish boxing fans are in for a treat when a boxer of Josh Taylor’s calibre says how desperate to fight on home soil.
The 23-year-old Lochend and GB Podium star has produced some of his most competent displays in many of the sport’s most prestigious venues across the world. As a result, the sensation of stepping into a ring in more familiar surroundings has become something of a rare commodity for the 2012 Olympian.
He will, however, make a return to home comforts when he contests the 64kg Scottish Championships with the preliminary rounds scheduled to get underway later this month.
His position as the No.1 boxer in his weight division doesn’t appear to be under threat this year, but Taylor is only too aware of his opponents’ desire to knock him from his perch.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening News, Taylor said: “I haven’t fought in Scotland for going on two or three years now so it will be good to fight in front of all my friends and family. I’ve missed fighting in my country so it will be great to get that feeling going once again. The finals of the Scottish are going to be held in the (SSE) Hydro where the Commonwealth Games finals are going to be, so it will be great to taste that first.
“There are a lot of good fighters in Scotland at that weight, but I’ve been all over the world boxing against the very best in the amateur game, so there’s nobody really out there that is going to faze me. But I am not taking it lightly or underestimating anyone who I am boxing as it only takes one punch. I am confident of winning it though and putting on a good performance to win another Scottish title.”
Taylor, of course, has the chance to further his fight tally in Scotland later this year when he pulls on the blue vest in pursuit of Commonwealth gold. Although his selection has still yet to be officially confirmed, he and Lochend club-mate Aston Brown (75kg) are virtually assured of a spot within the boxing squad as Lewis Benson, also of Lochend, chases the coveted 69kg berth.
Taylor has been in demand with regards to promoting this summer’s sports festival and was recently photographed standing aloft on one of Edinburgh Castle’s iconic canons, an image which reflects the pride and admiration he holds for his country.
Winning silver in Delhi as a raw 19-year-old four years ago when at 60kg produced a medal Team Scotland hadn’t expected – the fresh-faced Prestonpans youngster announcing himself to the world through a series of formidable displays. However, as his weight category has increased, so has the expectation placed on his shoulders and he is tipped to be one of our greatest hopes of gold when the competition gets underway on July 25 at the SECC.
“That was really good when I was up at the Castle doing the photo shoot,” Taylor said. “I was standing up on top of a canon looking down over Edinburgh. It kind of hit home what this summer is going to be all about and how much everybody is looking forward to the Games being in Scotland.
“I do feel there is quite a lot of expectation pinned on me, but it’s not anything that I don’t think I can achieve. In Delhi, there wasn’t any expectation, but that’s not the case this year in Glasgow. I’m a lot more experienced than I was four years ago and I feel a lot more composed in the ring so I suppose it all comes with the territory.”
Taylor splits his week between Edinburgh and Sheffield – the Yorkshire city being the home of the GB Boxing squad where he and Brown are the only two Scots within a strong 20-man pool. It has proved to be quite a test by Taylor’s own admission, but he is quick to acknowledge the support and training has helped bring the best out in him.
“The facilities down south, the sparring partners, the doctors, physios – it’s second to none and I do really enjoy being down there,” he explained.
If anyone is interested in providing Josh Taylor with sponsorship in the run up to this summer’s Commonwealth Games, please contact Josh via twitter @JoshTaylorBoxer or www.facebook.com/JoshTaylorBoxing