Ibiza, unification bid and tribute to parents: Josh Taylor basks in world title glory
New IBF super lightweight champion Josh Taylor couldn’t have picked a better destination to celebrate becoming king of the world.
The Tartan Tornado jetted off this morning to the party island of Ibiza with girlfriend Danielle – and who in their right mind would begrudge the East Lothian boxer the chance to unwind and revel in the moment.
“It will be great to get away with Danielle and celebrate. I’m going to enjoy myself and soak it all in,” the 28-year-old said with a wry smile. “I’m on cloud nine. It will take a few days before I say to myself, ‘wow I’m world champion’”.
Saturday night at the SSE Hydro was the culmination of 13 years of blood, sweat and tears, a goal he had set himself after first picking up the gloves at Lochend gym then aged 15. The release of emotion said it all. Memories of winning Commonwealth gold at the Glasgow venue in 2014 weren’t too far away either.
But Taylor is as composed outside the ring as he is in it. A unanimous victory over the previously undefeated Ivan Baranchyk wasn’t the complete performance most have come to expect, but the boy from Prestonpans is cut from a different cloth. He did manage to drop the Belorussian twice in the sixth round, which was appreciated by the vocal partisan crowd. However, he was more than content to go the distance.
“I made a couple of mistakes and switched off a couple of times, but I’m happy with the way it went,” he explained. “I don’t want to sound big-headed, but I’m not surprised because I’ve always believed in my ability from day one. It’s brilliant to fulfil my dream. But now it’s time to kick on and achieve more and win this tournament.”
To win the World Boxing Super Series and the sport’s most sought-after prize in the Muhammad Ali Trophy, Taylor must now overcome undefeated and WBA champion American Regis Prograis (24-0) in the final duel, which is likely to be in September. Prograis joined Taylor (15-0) in the ring to congratulate Scotland’s newest world champion, but soon resorted back to talking up his own chances of taking his crown.
“The fight against Regis is a very different one, the one against Ivan was a more physical fight,” Taylor said. “I think it will be more skilful and tactical against Regis because we’re both smart and intelligent in the ring, but I’m 100 per cent comfortable I can win this tournament.
“He will be the same, we’re both winners and have the same mentality but I’m going to win that fight and that Ali Trophy. This is another goal, win this tournament and then unify the division. Long term I want to become undisputed champion, that’s down the line but I believe I’ll win it.”
Taylor was desperate for his mum and dad, Diane and James, to share his special moment and thanked them for the sacrifices they have made as a family in helping him realise his dream.
“I could see the relief on my mum and dad’s faces as at the end of the fight and how emotional they were. It’s something I won’t forget and everything they have done for me in getting me to this point. I don’t think I could sit on the other side of the ropes watching someone I love do that.”
Taylor’s award-winning trainer Shane McGuigan admits he didn’t expect his prodigy to reach the pinnacle of the sport after just four years of working together in their London-based gym.
“I’m very proud, 15 fights and he’s a world champion,” he said. “We’ve been working together since 2015 and it only feels like yesterday we sat down and had that discussion for him to turn pro.
“Personally, it’s my third world champion, but to see Josh being crowned in there is amazing. It’s all of the hard work, sleepiness nights and getting frustrated with each other that people don’t see. We’ve got a good relationship but it’s been tough when he’s been fast tracked. It’s all paid off. It’s been an incredible journey but this is just the start. Maybe we didn’t expect him to do it this quickly, but we always knew he had the ability to win world titles.
“He turned pro quite late at 24 as he achieved so much as an amateur, but what a way to do it. He’s an elite fighter, I believe he is going to win this tournament and unify the division and I believe he is the best 140 pound fighter out there.”