Why Josh Taylor needs to capitalise on his status as undisputed world champion
Trainer Ben Davison insists new undisputed world super lightweight champion Josh Taylor has earned the right to start calling the shots over where his incredible journey takes him next.
The 30-year-old Prestonpans puncher entered the history books in Las Vegas last weekend by becoming the first British boxer to hold all four belts – in any weight class – with a unanimous points victory over Mexican-American Jose Ramirez. He is also the first Scot since Ken Buchanan to be undisputed world champion.
And within hours of the Scot's spectacular victory at the Virgin Hotels resort, speculation was already rife about where his next challenge in the ring will come from.
Mentor Davison, a former coach of world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, has been working alongside the Tartan Tornado for 18 months, although Taylor’s opportunities to showcase the progress of this partnership has been limited due to the pandemic, with success over the previously undefeated Ramirez just his second contest since unifying the division after victory over Regis Prograis at the O2 in London in October 2019.
Chorley’s Jack Catterall and American duo Terence Crawford and Teofimo Lopez have all been earmarked as potential opponents, but Davison believes Taylor now carries all the bargaining tools.
“Josh is a bright guy, he’s not silly,” Davison explained. “He’s got good advisers and management who are guiding him right. Look at what he’s achieved in such a short space of time. But now it’s about making some big decisions. A boxer’s career, like that of a footballer, isn’t like your average working person. So, he’s got to capitalise on his status – for his legacy and for financial reasons.
“The great thing is that Josh is in a perfect position to do that. I think he’s already at the very top of the tree, in terms of Scottish boxing history. Not only for what he’s achieved but for how he’s achieved it. The fact that he’s taken on challenge after challenge is just incredible. The record of his last five fighters being 136-1 makes you laugh, doesn’t it? He’s some boy. It’s ridiculous, what he’s done – and done it in 18 pro fights.
“There are some fantastic fighters out there who would obviously represent a tougher challenge for Josh. The talk of Terence Crawford is amazing and a fight with him could hardly be described as a walk in the park. But what Josh has achieved is very, very significant. And he’s in a position now where he can make some calls. He will have a big say in where he wants to go from here – and how he wants to go about it.
“If the Crawford fight happens, Josh really would need to show his boxing IQ in that one. He would have to be very disciplined. It would be a battle of the brains. The smarter fighter, the better prepared fighter, would have the edge in that one. That would be great for Josh. I’ve loved this whole experience. It’s wonderful to help a fighter achieve their dreams.”
As Taylor and the rest of his team finally touched down on home soil last night, Davison has remained out in Vegas as preparations turn to another of his fighters, Devin Haney, who defends his WBC world lightweight strap against Jorge Linares on Saturday night.
“The whole Team Taylor is really tight – and they’ve all contributed to this win,” Davison said. “We’ve got a phenomenal team – myself, Lee Wylie, Dan Lawrence, John Poppie, Terry McCormack and David Jenkins.
“Then there are all Josh’s management, advisers, PR team. He’s got everything he needs. I know he’s become undisputed champion – but he has a chance to do even more. He can put his name where it should be, up alongside the very best.
“It’s been an amazing experience for all of us over these last four weeks or so, being out in Vegas. We said all the way through the build-up that we’d use Ramirez’s aggression against him. And that’s exactly what Josh did for the first knockdown, in particular.
“With the second knockdown, he just showed what a great inside fighter he is. He managed to create just enough room coming out of the clinch to connect with that little uppercut. I think he’s developed maturity and I think his IQ has grown.
“He understands himself as a fighter more. And I think he’s better at forward planning. Looking at the opponent, picking up on his strengths and weaknesses and understanding what needs to be done.
“I’m sure that, when he went into the ring with Ramirez, it was almost as if he’d already been in with him before – because he knew exactly what to expect. That is down to preparation, the hours and hours of watching footage, lots of drilling. The preparation is about making sure that, when you get in there, nothing surprises you.”
And Davison also couldn't speak highly enough of Terry McCormack, who first enticed Taylor through the old wooden doors of Lochend Amateur Boxing Club and helped nurture him into the boxing superstar he has become.
“It was lovely to have Terry here,” he added. “There have been lots of people who have played a big part in Josh’s career, but Terry’s been there since day one. They had an emotional moment in the changing room, which was wonderful to see. He really has been a father figure to Josh.”