Josh Taylor spells out what he must do before he can mentioned alongside Ken Buchanan
The 29-year-old produced another faultless performance to successfully defend his WBA and IBF belts with a first-round stoppage of Thailand’s mandatory challenger, Apinun Khongsong, at a behind-closed-doors York Hall in London on Saturday night.
In truth, the Prestonpans puncher didn’t even break sweat as he stunned the previously undefeated Khongsong with a devastating blow to the body that left his opponent a crumpled mess on the canvas.
The contest was rightly brought to a halt after two minutes and 41 seconds of the opening round, with Khongsong requiring a stretcher to carry him from the arena. The 27-year-old was taken to hospital, where he was admitted for a suspected ruptured kidney.
Saturday was the first time Taylor had set foot inside a ring since his World Boxing Super Series triumph 11 months ago. But absence makes the heart grow fonder and victory – the Tartan Tornado’s 17th of an unblemished professional career – has propelled him to within 12 rounds of emulating his hero and fellow Edinburgh native Buchanan, a former undisputed lightweight champion and long considered the finest boxer Scotland has ever produced.
Taylor’s Las Vegas-based promoter Top Rank has indicated the focus has already shifted towards making that dream a reality with a duel against WBC and WBO champion Jose Ramirez, also boxing under the Top Rank banner, now being lined up for early next year.
“To be up there with Ken as Scotland’s best ever would be brilliant,” Taylor said. “And, if I do win the other two belts, I think I definitely have to be up there with Kenny. I would have to be recognised up there with him as the best ever.
“To share that honour alongside Ken Buchanan, who is also from Edinburgh and has connections to my hometown of Prestonpans, would be a wonderful piece of history. That’s my ambition, that’s my aim.
“I always knew I would be world champion, 100 per cent. But to be fighting for all four belts is different. To think I could do that in my 18th fight, five years down the line from turning pro, no, I don’t think I would be talking about becoming undisputed world champion just yet.
“To be honest, that was beyond my dreams. I wanted to be world champion and be involved in big fights. But I never thought that wee Josh Taylor from Prestonpans would be involved in a fight to become undisputed champion of the world. It’s crazy when you talk about it like that.”
Taylor – and his new trainer Ben Davison, in the Scot’s corner for the first time – couldn’t have wished for an easier night in front of the BT Sport cameras. And while he conceded he had hoped for more time in the ring given the enforced layoff due to Covid-19, he feels refreshed and ready to get down to work again.
“Everything worked perfectly and was a lot easier than my last few fights,” Taylor explained. “I felt the left hook sinking in straight away. You can tell the difference in your glove. I felt the glove sinking right into his stomach and ribs. I felt it travel right up my arm, so I knew it was a good shot straight away. And, when I saw him on the floor, I knew he was badly hurt. I knew he wasn’t getting up from that.
“I don’t need another fight before Ramirez. I’m 100 per cent ready for him next, keeping myself fit in the gym, getting good sparring. I just want to jump in there and get my hands on him as soon as possible. I’m confident because I just never see anything new from him. I watch his fights and see the same things every time.
“I would love that to be my next fight. I feel I deserve the shot at getting all four belts – the last four fights before Saturday night earned me that right. I’ve beaten everyone else in the division, all the champions and former champions. I don’t think there’s a better time for me to take Ramirez on – and I’m confident I’ll beat him.”
Lancashire’s Jack Catterall (25-0) is the mandatory challenger to Ramirez’s WBO belt but Taylor is hoping that potential match-up won’t become a stumbling block.
“If Jack gets a shot at Ramirez, I will have to take another fight in the meantime,” he admitted. “But the good thing is me and Jack are under the same management banner in MTK. Myself and Ramirez are under the same promotion banner so we’re all sort of in-house, if you like, and all have the same connections.
“I’m pretty sure that something can be worked out for my fight with Ramirez to go ahead first. I’ll leave it down to the management to sort out. But a fight of that size, it just can’t happen without fans. That would be wrong.
“It was definitely strange not having even friends and family there on Saturday. That’s where it was good to have had that amateur pedigree. I’ve been to Olympic tournaments, test events, world championships in front of maybe 50 people.
“I had that experience to tap into, still having the same mindset. Because it was strange not having anyone there.”