Hard graft gives Josh Taylor a brand new weapon

Shane McGuigan, left, has encouraged Josh Taylor to stand more full on. Pic: Scott Louden
Shane McGuigan, left, has encouraged Josh Taylor to stand more full on. Pic: Scott Louden
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Trainer Shane McGuigan experiences the brute force of Josh Taylor’s punches almost every day.

That’s why the 26-year-old, son of former world featherweight champion Barry, is confident the Prestonpans boxer will deliver a knockout blow in front of his fans at Meadowbank tomorrow night.

McGuigan has been training Taylor in London for four months after the Commonwealth Games gold medallist signed a professional contract with Cyclone Promotions in June.

And, despite having the task of putting IBF world super bantamweight champion Carl Frampton through his paces, McGuigan says the power Taylor is able to generate in his punch is simply explosive.

Speaking ahead of the Scot’s showdown with Hungarian Adam Mate tomorrow night, McGuigan said: “I’ve found recently he’s punching a lot harder as we’ve been doing a lot of strength and conditioning work. Josh is heavier than he looks so his punching power has increased dramatically.

“It’s certainly taking its toll on my body. I have to ice my arms and have other treatments done that help me rest up. Sometimes I’m doing eight rounds with Josh, then ten rounds with Conrad Cummings and so on so you can be doing 60 or 70 rounds per day.

“The trauma on the arms is tough so weight training is the key. Keeping my strength up helps me a lot.

“Mate is certainly no pushover and is a tough opponent for just your second pro fight. But, if Josh catches him, he’ll knock him down. It’s great Mate has said he is coming to win which is what we all want to see in a fight, but Josh will take his head off.”

For all Taylor has achieved in his time as an amateur, McGuigan has been tasked with ensuring the transition to professional boxing runs as smoothly as possible. The 24-year-old Taylor got off on the right foot in July in El Paso, Texas, stopping opponent Archie Weah in round two as he made a scintillating start to his career as a paid boxer.

“He looked phenomenal in his debut out in Texas,” McGuigan recalled. “He’s so talented and quick so he’s been great to work with so far.

“But I’m trying to get him to stand more square-on because when you’re very side-on, which Josh can sometimes 
do, you lose that power and 
balance. I am also trying to get him to take his time a little bit more because everything was a bit rushed before with his shots.

“But he’s improving every day in the gym and getting better and better. He’s been sparring with light-middleweights like Larry Ekundayo who won the Prizefighter against Craig McEwan a few years ago, so everyone has been raving about him in London too. But that’s what it’s about and transferring that level of sparring into his fights.

“He’s in the gym full of guys who are big names. He’s aspiring to get to those guy’s positions and he’s got all the talent to do that. He’s also a very likeable guy so he is getting more known within the boxing world.”

He continued: “I think he is going to make the transition from amateur boxer to pro very quickly. But, at the same time, we’ve got to take calculated risks at the right time because one little slip in the pro-game can be damaging.

“If you look at [Guillermo] Rigondeaux, he was world champion after six or seven fights, Carl [Frampton] was world champion after 18 fights so that’s the sort of route we are looking at. We want to get him to the top pretty quickly.”

McGuigan, a former amateur boxer himself, admits he has a burning desire to help others succeed.

“I never liked being compared to my dad. I love doing things behind the scenes and seeing other people achieve their dreams. I love what I do so it’s great to be involved,” he added.