Boxing coach Terry McCormack believes Josh Taylor harbours such a will to win that even the prospect of losing at tiddlywinks would drive him around the bend.
McCormack has been alongside the Commonwealth super lightweight champion’s side ever since he first entered the old wooden premises of Lochend Boxing Club in 2009, then just 18 and in search of a new challenge having turned his back on a promising Tae Kwon Do career.
McCormack admits he could tell the Prestonpans fighter had an aura about him that was quite unique given he was new to the sport. But, despite displaying a classiness in the ring right from the off, McCormack says he had to spend the first two years of his development toning down his temperament.
“Josh is the worst loser you’ll ever meet. I’m telling you he would take you all the way in tiddlywinks and wouldn’t stop until he’d won!” McCormack quipped. “But that’s just the way Josh is.
“He has such a winning mentality that sometimes he allowed it to get the better of him. Even if he got hit with one shot whilst sparring he would lose his focus and concentration because he was that annoyed with himself. The first two years we really had to work on his mind and way of thinking. I was saying to him ‘you’ve got to stay relaxed, it’s sparring; you can’t lose control and your shape when it’s not going your way’. But we persevered. I could see his attributes right from the start though and the potential he had. He was fast, a southpaw; made the weight easy but like every other kid in the gym he had his faults as well.”
McCormack believes a trip to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles a couple of years later was a defining moment for both himself and his young boxer.
“That trip to LA and the Wild Card Gym was a turning point,” McCormack recalls. “Manny Pacquiao came in to train and Freddie allowed us to stay and watch. We were sitting right next to the ring watching Manny spar. Manny is Josh’s hero. He happened to have one bad round during the session and I just nudged Josh on the shoulder and said ‘Did you see that? Did you see him lose his head, get annoyed or look like he was going to chuck the towel in? He’s a four-times world champion and he doesn’t go in the huff so what right have you got to?’ He agreed with me and I think that’s where we saw a different Josh Taylor going forward. The thing is Josh has the heart of a lion. If he does one thing wrong when he’s working the pads he wants to do it again and again and again [till get puts it right]. He’s a perfectionist. Josh trusts me like his second dad and I’ll always be there for him. I was with him at all his meetings when we were meeting promoters to discuss his (professional) contract. I just want what’s right for Josh.”
Despite having passed on the baton to trainer Shane McGuigan when Taylor opted to sign professional terms with Cyclone Promoter and former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan in summer 2015, McCormack is still very much part of Team Taylor and will again be in his corner when the 26-year-old makes the first defence of his Commonwealth super lightweight title against reigning South African champion Warren Joubert at Meadowbank next Friday.
“Whenever Josh is up he’s back at Lochend, it’s great to have him back,” McCormack said. “He’s always in such good shape. He doesn’t just sit about after a fight like a lot of pros do. He takes one week off and then he’s straight back into pads, circuits, sparring... you name it. That’s why when he goes down to London and back into camp he’s ready to go. He’s sparring the likes of [Carl] Frampton from day one.
“The boy [Joubert] is durable and tough but Josh is a special talent. He’ll work him out for a round or two and then just dismantle him. He’s too fast, powerful and his movement is second to none.”
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