As far as pre-fight press conferences go, this one had everything you’d expect. Both Josh Taylor and opponent Dave Ryan appeared in front of a well-populated function room at the Malmaison hotel in Leith oozing confidence that they will leave Meadowbank on Friday night as the new Commonwealth super-lightweight champion.
However, the customary finger-pointing and trash talk was largely left to each camp’s promoters to speak on behalf of their respective fighters – Taylor’s manager and former WBA featherweight champion, Barry McGuigan, eventually caving in to offer the rather obnoxious Clifton Mitchell – Ryan’s cohort – a piece of his own mind.
Mitchell, a former heavyweight boxer himself, wasted little time in launching a scathing attack on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, who has registered six consecutive knockouts since switching to the paid ranks last summer. Ryan, on the other hand, is a former holder of the belt itself and has won 17 of his 26 professional contests – including a victory over current British champion Tyrone Nurse in 2014.
“I really don’t know why we’re here because as far as these lot are concerned it’s a forgone conclusion,” ranted Mitchell. “Dave Ryan isn’t even worth being in the ring with. So, we might as well get in the ring, lie down and give him [Taylor] the belt. The way everyone is talking, it’s like he’s some kind of [Floyd] Mayweather superstar.”
“We’ll find out on Friday night when the heat is on, though. Like I said, I’ve known this lad [Taylor] from a very young age as an amateur. I watched you when your a*** went against the Kazakhstan kid (Merey Akshalov in the 2013 amateur world championships) so we’ll see what he’s got. You got bashed up.
“We’ve come to Scotland, it’s your backyard, it’s your house, so we’re gonna pull your pants down and spank you. We’ll pull your arms off, your legs off and drown you. Just watch and see. You’ll be bouncing off that canvas.”
He continued: “Who have you boxed? Nobody. You’ve done nine rounds in six fights so you’ve boxed bums and you can’t say you haven’t. You’ve boxed boys so you’re going to get in with a man and then you’ll realise what it’s all about.”
To his credit, the 25-year-old Scot managed to keep his emotions in check and only occasionally turned to glance at what was being steered in his direction.
“It’s just tongue-and-cheek isn’t it,” Taylor retorted in response to his opponent’s manager’s remarks. “He’s just acting like a big donkey, that’s all he is. Are you the one fighting? No, so shut up fat cheeks.”
Mitchell continued to turn up the heat ahead of the main event that will be broadcast exclusively live on Channel 5 from 10pm tomorrow night.
“You’re struggling to fill that TV spot so you’ve chucked him [Taylor] in the deep end. Watch him drown. You can’t shut me up. We’ll smash his face in and he [Ryan] will rightfully claim back what was his.”
McGuigan, though, had endured enough at this point and intervened, saying: “Are you going to apologise to me when this is all over? Are you going to apologise when your lad gets beaten? You wait and see. Don’t speak to me like I’m an idiot, you clown.”
Mitchell, though, was in top gear and fired back: “You’re a clown. What do I need to apologise to you for short man? I will never apologise to you.”
Ryan, who had given very little away at this point other than to say he would win the fight, responded to a question regarding his manager’s tirade.
“Clifton is his own man, he says what he wants to say and I’ll say what I want to say,” the 33-year-old from Derby said. “I’ve been written off and that what he [Mitchell] is saying. I can’t say anymore other than I’m going to win the fight. I’m very confident. I’m really looking forward to it as it’s been a while coming, but I’ve had a fantastic training camp, everything is on schedule and I believe it’s going to be a cracking fight and one I come out victorious.”
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