Josh Taylor admits the McGuigan gym has been a lot quieter of late following the recent departures of Irish duo Carl Frampton and Conrad Cummings.
That’s why the WBC Silver and Commonwealth super lightweight champion is delighted to welcome another hometown favourite Lee McGregor to the Cyclone stable.
Two-time British and Scottish senior champion McGregor, 20, was unveiled earlier this week by promoter Barry McGuigan and is the perfect boost for Taylor ahead of his 12-rounder with former IBF world lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez at the Royal Highland Centre next Saturday. The Prestonpans fighter, who is ranked the No.1 super lightweight in Britain and No.6 in the WBC world rankings, revealed he can’t wait to strike up a bond with the former Meadowbank amateur during those long weeks spent training in London.
“Lee is a great addition to the stable and I now have a wee buddy to travel down from Edinburgh with me for camp. It’s been really quiet since Carl and Conrad both left, we always had a right good laugh so it’s good that Lee’s come in,” Taylor explained. “He’s settled in well and really seems to be enjoying training with Shane [McGuigan]. Even in the last month or so you can see the subtle differences in his style and his punching power, so he’s improved a lot.”
McGregor’s decision to turn pro means he will no longer be available for selection for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia. Taylor was the last Scot to win gold in Glasgow over three years ago, a feat, he believes, his new stablemate could have replicated.
“It’s Lee’s decision at the end of the day,” the 26-year-old said. “He explained to me things that have happened in his personal life have put things in perspective so fair play to him. I think he’s got the talent to go right to the top in the pros. Barry offered him a good deal so why not? There’s always that fear of going to the Games and not getting the decision that you should have got, that’s what it’s like in amateur boxing.”
As for his own preparations, he appreciates that in Mexican Vazquez he will have to be at his very best if he is to keep his undefeated record intact.
“I’m pretty much there now. This week is the last push before just relaxing and tapering down ahead of next Saturday. I’ve been put through my paces by Shane and have already done four or five 12-round spars so I’m ahead of schedule,” Taylor said.
“We’ve changed the style of sparring partners for this camp. I’ve been sparring a guy called Chris Kongo who has been brilliant for the last three or four weeks. He can stand and have a fight but he can also move, which I think what Vazquez is going to be like.
“We’ve been working on pace but also being patient at the same time. You’ve got to go through two or three phases with this guy before you attack again. It could be my hardest fight but you just don’t know until that first bell rings. It could be one round, I could catch him or he could put me on my backside, you just never know.
“I’ve mentally prepared for it being the toughest fight of my career and it’s certainly the most important. I’ve had a couple of fights that were pretty easy but I’ve jumped up in class every time and this is genuinely a really good fight for me.”