Boxing in America holds little fear for Commonwealth super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor.
The Prestonpans fighter already emulated a hero of his, the great Ken Buchanan, having fought in New York in July in just his sixth fight as a professional last summer. Edinburgh’s world lightweight champion Buchanan had already stacked up 38 wins prior to making his first appearance across the Atlantic when he defeated Donato Paduano at Madison Square Garden in December 1970. But Taylor, who made his debut as a paid fighter in El Paso, Texas, 18 months ago, is now just hours away from entering the most renowned arena of them all – the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“This is different to anything I’ve experienced before when fighting across here,” the 26-year-old told the Evening News from his hotel room at Saturday night’s venue. “This will be the third time I’ve fought in America since turning pro. I know I impressed the last time I was out in New York in the summer but I don’t think my fight was shown on TV over here.
“This time it’s going to be on Showtime Extreme (America’s premium satellite TV network) so it’s a chance for me to really impress some of the big names out here. It’s also a platform for me to start generating an American following as well. This is where the big money fights are and it’s where you get recognised in the likes of the Hall of Fame so if I could start fighting a lot more in the States, like Kenny Buchanan did, then it would be fantastic.
“With tonight’s fight also being broadcast on Sky Sports too, it’s great that I’ve got that exposure back home as well. Every fighter dreams of fighting in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay. At the same time I’m relaxed and I don’t think it will sink in until after the fight when I stop to say, ‘hold on a minute I’ve just fought in Vegas’.”
Mexican Alfonso Olvera (8-2-1) stands between the Prestonpans star and his eighth win since teaming up with Cyclone Promotions and former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan. Saturday’s bout will also be the fourth occasion Taylor has fought on the undercard of a world-title card headlined by stablemate and two-weight world champion, Carl Frampton.
“The two defeats he [Olvera] has had have been against unbeaten prospects,” Taylor noted. “The footage I have seen of him, he definitely comes to fight and looks for the win. He’s a different style of fighter to Dave Ryan. He’s tall like me, he tries to use his range and his uppercuts. He stands and has a go so I’m going to have to be switched on if I am to get a result.”
And what about Frampton, who he has spent the last four weeks training alongside out in the state of Nevada and his chances of retaining his WBA world super-featherweight title against Leo Santa Cruz.
“He’s nice and relaxed, cool as a cucumber really. I think it will go the 12 rounds, another explosive fight but you may see a Frampton knock-out, we’ll see. I can’t wait to be in the crowd for this one with the rest of our team. It’s going to be some fight I tell you.”
Like most boxers who progress up the power rankings, Taylor is now seen as a real scalp on the domestic front. The Scot has recently come under fire from undefeated London super-lightweight OHara Davies (14-0), who felt Taylor’s performance against “a washed up” Dave Ryan at Meadowbank was nothing to write home about. He told Sky Sports this week: “He’s [Taylor] good but he’s not on my level.”
“It’s just words. I think he’s a clown,” Taylor retorted when asked about his potential opponent’s comments. “He just wants his name out there for people to talk about him. He wants to be the subject of the conversation all the time. With him saying that Dave Ryan was washed up, he’s about to fight a blown up featherweight (Derry Matthews) who has spent most of his career at that weight but is finishing his career at lightweight.
“Take nothing away from Derry as he’s had a great career but at the end of the day he’s not a light-weltwerweight. He started all this stuff on Twitter after I’d beaten Ryan so I responded to him. I’ll give him some wee stick back as it’s entertaining for myself. I’d take the fight no bother, his last performance against Andrea Scarpa was terrible.”