Barry McGuigan has urged Josh Taylor to make the most of a “life changing opportunity” by winning the World Boxing Super Series at the first attempt.
The 27-year-old WBC Silver super-lightweight champion starts his quest for the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy against American Ryan Martin in the quarter-finals at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro tonight.
And should the Prestonpans puncher secure his 14th consecutive win since signing professional terms with McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions in summer 2015, he will face Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk – also for the IBF world title – in the penultimate round early next year.
The remaining semi-final matchup will pitch top seed American Regis Prograis, who overcame Englishman Terry Flanagan last weekend, against Kiryl Relikh of Belarus.
Former WBA featherweight champion McGuigan, who was a household name of the sport in the 1980s, is predicting Taylor’s stock to go through the roof should he succeed.
“It would’ve been amazing to have been involved in something like this when I was boxing,” McGuigan, now 57, said. “There wasn’t the sort of money back then that there is now. The people who own the WBSS own the Champions League so the amount of money these guys have got to throw at it, they can circumvent all the politics.
“The thing was, we’d worked Josh into position for the WBC title but in reality, you fight Jose Ramirez who’s the top-ranked fighter, who’s got a magnificent television deal out in the States and the likelihood is we would probably have had to have gone to the west coast of America to fight for the title.
“Josh would’ve been up for that and we would’ve been confident that he would have won it. We wouldn’t have received any favours and we probably wouldn’t have got a great deal of money. Even though Josh is the number one contender and mandatory opponent, he still wouldn’t have received the sort of money he can get in this tournament.
“Please God he wins tonight, then he’ll be fighting for the IBF world title in his next fight. If he wins that, he’ll be going for the WBA title in the following fight. So job done. And he’s getting tremendous money. He deserves it.”
Although fully confident Taylor will deliver emphatically in Glasgow tonight, McGuigan is wary of the threat Martin, who boasts a record of 22-0, poses his boxer. “This guy is a very good fighter,” he said. “Josh trains on speed and this kid is bringing speed up with him from the lightweight division. But we’ve analysed it and he’s had a tremendous camp.
“He’s been looking great but he needs to be, because this guy’s good. The good thing about it is you’d think that Martin was a mover. He’s in great shape and everything but if you look at him, he’s great at three-quarter distance. But I think Taylor’s too good for him at close range, so I think it’ll be an exciting fight.
“He’ll have to be careful pulling out again from coming in to punching range, but he’s in great shape and we’re looking forward to it.
“Josh didn’t have such a good camp for the [Viktor] Postol fight. I’m not making excuses but it didn’t flow the same way. This has been seamless the whole way through. He’s been in three 12 rounders in sparring and he’s looked magnificent. He’s fit as flea, he’s stronger, he’s maturing more and he has also bought an apartment down in London. He’s living there and he’s settled. He can bring his partner Danielle down and his mum and dad too.”
McGuigan has been shouting from the rooftops about the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist since Taylor joined his stable that, at the time, was headed by former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
“There’s those who’d say Josh has been in the fast lane since the moment he signed! Our policy has always been to not mess with boys. If you’ve got a kid that’s world class, that’s boxed around the world and competed at the highest level, won tournaments and everything else, you can take calculated risks,” he added.
Featherweight Stephen Tiffney boxes Mexican Arturo Lopez on tonight’s undercard.
• Yo can watch Josh Taylor v Ryan Martin live on YouTube www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTTjQUS1PGc