Josh Taylor speaks on fight cancellation, plans to get home from Vegas and gun sales at Walmart

Josh Taylor's fight against Apinun Khongsong has been cancelled.Josh Taylor's fight against Apinun Khongsong has been cancelled.
Josh Taylor's fight against Apinun Khongsong has been cancelled.
Prestonpans puncher and his entourage left high and dry by coronavirus crisis

World super lightweight champion Josh Taylor insists he won’t let all the good work go to waste as he prepares to cut short his training camp in Las Vegas and return home.

The 29-year-old’s mandatory defence of his IBF and WBA titles against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong, scheduled for Saturday, May 2, at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, was postponed on Tuesday due to coronavirus.

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Promoter Frank Warren issued a statement confirming the headline bout and the undercard, which included reigning British and Commonwealth bantamweight champion Lee McGregor, and was to be broadcast live on BT Sport, has joined the hundreds of sporting events that have been suspended because of the pandemic.

The Grand National, Euro 2020, and the Masters at Augusta are an example of the more high-profile events that will not run this year, the latter’s first postponement since World War II which prevented the tournament from going ahead in 1943, 1944 and 1945.

However, in a bid to combat a virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 8,000 across the world, governments, including the UK’s, have been forced into drastic measures.

Taylor, nicknamed the Tartan Tornado, will now spend his final few days in the state of Nevada with a less intense training schedule than expected before boarding a plane back to the UK with trainer Ben Davison this weekend – at least he hopes to, given the impact the outbreak has had on the airline industry.

Just got to accept it

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“I’m obviously really disappointed the fight is off, but that’s the way it goes,” Taylor told the Evening News from his Las Vegas apartment where he’s been residing for the past week. “It’s completely outwith my control, so it’s something you’ve just got to accept. Everything happens for a reason, so it may work out for the better when I fight him at a later date.

“We’ve never experienced this kind of situation before, so we’ve just got to sit tight and follow the guidelines.

“I’d been sitting watching all the boxing shows scheduled for the next month or two being postponed, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when the call finally came through to tell me it was off.

Expensive cancellation

“But I’ve spent a lot of money on this training camp coming out to Vegas, having physios, masseuses, a chef to keep on top of what we’re eating nutrition-wise, so it’s really frustrating.

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“I’ve been in camp for quite a few weeks now and although there is no alternative date yet, I would hope the fight could maybe be rescheduled for July or something like that.

“I’ll keep going, though. After my last fight in October [Taylor defeated Regis Prograis in the World Boxing Super Series final in London], I found it really difficult to get myself back into that fitness bubble again.

“It takes so much to get over that first hurdle after you’ve spent so much time off, so I need to keep on top of things and keep ticking over. I’ll keep training in the gym and hopefully it’s not too long before I’m back in the ring.”

Not ideal to be stuck in Vegas

Taylor is confident he won’t have to perform a U-turn when he arrives at McCarran International Airport in a couple of days’ time. It is his intention to return to his East Lothian home for a couple of weeks to spend time with girlfriend Danielle before travelling down to Manchester to hook up again with Davison.

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“The plan is to come home this weekend but I’ll just need to see what happens over the next few days,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to get a flight home so I’m not anticipating any problems on that front. There are definitely flights still landing and taking off at the moment. It wouldn’t be ideal to be in stuck in Vegas for the foreseeable future, put it that way!

“But, in saying that, there are so many things that have had to close, so there’s not been a lot to do anyway. Every time we’ve gone down to the strip it’s been pretty quiet. I’ve been to Las Vegas a couple of times now and have been right in the thick of it, so it’s a really eerie place to be at the moment.

Guns rather than toilet roll

“I know there has been all the outcry about bulk buying of toilet roll back home but we were at a Walmart earlier this week and the amount of people buying guns was unbelievable. It was just crazy to see.

“I was enjoying the camp and things were going well ahead of the fight. We were scheduled to be out here for a month before flying back to the UK for our final preparations, but I’ll just have to pick things back up again when I’m home.”