Martin Compston gives his backing to Josh Taylor in his bid to be undisputed world champion

Josh Taylor's undisputed world title duel with Jose Ramirez may not have captured the imagination of the entire boxing fraternity despite what is at stake.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 10:00 pm
Josh Taylor has been inundated with good luck messages in Las Vegas. Picture: Bill Murray / SNS

Although broadcasting giants Sky and BT are posted missing when perusing this weekend's TV guide for the big fight, a plethora of high-profile personalities have been forthcoming to lend their support to the Scot, who is on the cusp of creating British boxing history, in Las Vegas, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The IBF and WBA super lightweight king, from Prestonpans, will pit his wits against WBC and WBO belt holder Mexican-American, Jose Ramirez. Both boxers are undefeated and have racked up a combined 43 consecutive victories between them, 30 of those by knock-out. Someone's zero has got to go at the Virgin Hotels resort and Taylor is hellbent on ensuring his unblemished record remains intact.

Should the 30-year-old Commonwealth Games 2014 gold medallist prevail in the state of Nevada, he will become the first Brit to clear up a division in the four-belt era.

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Taylor hasn't been short of good luck messages from all corners of the globe.

“Martin Compston has actually messaged me a lot,” Taylor explained from his rented villa in Las Vegas. "He actually lives over here but he’s in Edinburgh filming something at the moment. He’s gutted he can’t be here to see the fight. Another actor, James Cosmo, has also been in touch and Carl Fogarty, who’s a hero of mine in the motorbike racing world, has sent me videos.

"I’ve been into motorbikes all my life – it was my first love and I always watched Carl racing in the World Superbike Series so it was good to receive a message from him.

“I went to a memorabilia place and saw his signed helmet and the guys who worked there got in touch with Carl and then he contacted me, which was great. That was the first time I’d ever heard from him and it’s good that he’s wished me luck. I think the Hibs team are also going to send me something as well so it's been nice."

Taylor and his team – which includes Edinburgh and European bantamweight champion Lee McGregor and Lochend coach Terry McCormack – have been based across the Atlantic for the best part of a month now, putting the finishing touches to a gruelling 12-week training camp. However, there has been time set aside to unwind and indulge in some of the delights the entertainment capital of the world has to offer.

“The preparation has been brilliant," Taylor said. "Ever since we got here it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Back home everything was closed and you couldn’t go anywhere or see anything – it was like Groundhog Day.

"Here, though, the restrictions have been lifted and we’ve been able to go out and do things, visit the shops and have something to eat. It’s been like going back to normal and that’s helped me to switch off when I’ve had a free day. We’ve really enjoyed the hot weather and having a swimming pool in the back garden has also been good.

“When I have gone out, I’ve played pool, we’ve rented a few nice cars and gone out to shoot some guns at a couple of ranges. That was really cool – the big automatic weapons, the big SAW guns and all that.”

Martin Compston, pictured with Line of Duty co-star Stephen Graham, has been in regular contact with Josh Taylor. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA

"I wanted to visit an outdoor range so I could maybe blow some stuff up, but we’ll maybe do that after the fight.

"I’ve been switching off and seeing the sights in Vegas, the Strip down to Fremont Street, just walking around.

“This place has the feelgood factor. I’ve been absolutely flying in the gym and I just can’t wait to get going on Saturday night. I’m here to become a boxing great so you have to play the role and do the work, but I’m enjoying it as well, lapping up the whole experience and making the most of it."

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That experience he alludes to has even included a light-hearted scrap with heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury at the Top Rank headquarters, the Gypsy King having spent some time in Vegas before flying east to Miami, via Dallas, where he was a member of Billy Joe Saunders' corner in the Englishman's eighth-round stoppage defeat by Canelo Alvarez 11 days ago.

“Tyson’s been really good," Taylor quipped. "He’s been at the gym for a couple of my sparring sessions so he’s given me a few tips and pointers. It was just bits and bobs here and there rather than about the fight itself. We had a bit of a laugh and a carry on. He definitely brightens the place up a bit.

“It was good fun being in the ring with him. I sunk a few heavy digs into his body. I think he was a wee bit surprised at my power – I could see it in his face! Mind you it’s pretty hard to hurt the big guy!”

• Our coverage of Josh Taylor’s undisputed world title fight is proudly brought to you in association with WOW Hydrate www.wowhydrate.com

Ramirez v Taylor will stream live and exclusively in the UK on FITE for £9.99. Live coverage begins at 1:30am on Sunday morning.