Josh Taylor has big plans after fairytale year - and defining poignant moment
The 30-year-old super lightweight touched down on the famous strip at the end of April as unified world champion. His remit Stateside? To arrive back on these shores four weeks later as Britain’s first undisputed world champion of the four-belt era.
Standing in his way was Mexican-American, Jose Ramirez, the division’s other undefeated unified king. Ramirez also had that ‘undisputed’ carrot dangling in front of him and, despite a promising opening couple of rounds, Taylor found his rhythm and showed why he is one of the best pound-for-pound boxers on the planet.
The celebrations that followed in the bars and casinos were modest given Covid restrictions had denied Taylor’s legion of fans entry into the United States.
Closer to home, family and friends returned to bed having been glued to the TV during the small hours, myself included.
But perhaps the most poignant footage from the evening to unravel was the embrace between Taylor and coach Terry McCormack in the aftermath.
The Prestonpans puncher has revamped his team since turning professional in 2015 but the one constant has been McCormack.
The duo had shared a vision, a dream ever since Taylor first walked through the doors of Lochend amateur boxing club as a gawky 16-year-old.
This relationship has stood the test of time. “We did it, Terry, we finally did it,” an emotional Taylor says to a man who has fought his corner since day one. It was a defining moment that will stay with the duo forever.
The Scot arrived back at Edinburgh Airport, via London, a couple of days later on a private jet, rather befitting of a warrior whose last six opponents had a combined record of 136-1 en route to becoming king of the world.
So, what does 2022 have in store? Well, he is in camp ahead of his showdown with England’s Jack Catterall – another undefeated fighter – at the Hydro on February 26. The Chorley man is entitled to his crack at all four belts having stepped aside to allow Taylor to face off against Ramirez in the first place.
Taylor, who turns 31, on Sunday, should have too much in his armoury for Catterall despite his impressive haul of 26 wins in the ring.
The 2014 Commonwealth gold medallist has made no secret of his desire to become a two-weight – even three-weight – world champion before hanging up his gloves and may feel there is nothing left for him to prove at 140lbs.
A move up to welterweight, the glamour division of boxing, is high on the agenda with potential match-ups against Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr already being touted.
Taylor will bide his time. He has earned the right to mull over his next move. He is in demand and won’t be short of offers. But he’s also in the fortunate position where he can call the shots. That said, his focus is firmly on Catterall in just over eight weeks’ time and so it should. One bad night at the office could see his 2022 dreams go up in smoke, not that the BBC would lose much sleep over it.