Josh Taylor has always maintained he never goes looking for the stoppage, but boy how satisfied must he be following his latest triumph.
The Prestonpans puncher made the biggest statement of his career on Saturday night in front of a sold-out Royal Highland Centre, bringing Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez to his feet in the ninth round with a win that has sent shockwaves throughout the boxing fraternity.
This was groundbreaking stuff. Taylor, in just his 11th fight as professional boxer, stopped his opponent for the first time with a blistering left body shot that left the Mexican gasping for air. Vazquez, a former IBF world lightweight champion, even required medical assistance from the doctors at ringside just so he could make his way back to his corner.
Taylor, who successfully retained his WBC Silver belt, carefully dismantled Vazquez round by round, the Mexican on the receiving end of some damaging blows to both head and body. However, there were concerns for the home favourite after a clash of heads in the second round that left the Scot sporting a deep gash just above his left eye.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and former Olympian, though, was determined not to allow such an opportunity pass him by.
“I always knew I could take him out but I was trying a bit too hard early on. I kept hitting him to the head and I hurt my right hand half way through the fight, I was hitting him clean with some decent shots but he was recovering well really quickly. I knew I had to start going downstairs to slow him down a bit and that’s what I started doing,” a jubilant 26-year-old Taylor explained.
“He was very experienced, when I was hitting him cleanly he gave nothing away so I’ve learned a lot from that. That’s been the best fight so far and I’ve gained a lot. I’m over the moon with that, it was a good performance. He was really tough and it was definitely that hardest test of my career so far.
“People say he wasn’t a puncher but he’s definitely more heavy handed than people give him credit for. It was good, he was very tough and very awkward and hard to hit clean. I was getting frustrated but once I relaxed and stopped trying so hard then I started getting the shots off. That’s the first time anyone has ever stopped him so that’s a big, massive statement for me to make on the 140lbs scene. I’m happy overall.”
Taylor’s stock is rising and not just in Britain. Although he has previously stated his desire to go down the traditional route of challenging for the Lonsdale Belt, his Cyclone Promotions manager Barry McGuigan believes he is too equipped to fight at that level now.
“Personally I’d love to fight for the Lonsdale belt, I think it’s one of the most prestigious belts out there in the world, the British belt,” Taylor said. “I’d love to get my hands on that eventually but I’ll leave it up to Barry and see what he thinks is the best route. I’m confident in my own ability that I’m going to win a world title.
“I’ll take a few weeks off and spend time with my family and then go from there, a shot at a European title might be next on the agenda. My dream is still to fight at Edinburgh Castle, just before the festival comes on and all the stands are up.
“The crowds are getting bigger and bigger and the atmosphere was just brilliant in there, it lifts you that extra 10 per cent. I’m enjoying the ride and every minute of it.”