Josh Taylor feels he should have been on BBC SPOTY shortlist
...but world champ happy to focus on his future
He’s been the talk of the town since he became unified world champion little more than five weeks ago, but Josh Taylor will very much be out of the limelight when this year’s BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year is held in Aberdeen.
Despite the 28-year-old’s historic points triumph over American Regis Prograis in the World Boxing Super Series at London’s O2 in October, the super-lightweight adding the WBA, Ring Magazine and Muhammad Ali Trophy to the IBF belt he won in May, Taylor did not make the six-person shortlist for the awards ceremony on Sunday, December 15.
The last boxer to win the coveted gong was Joe Calzaghe 12 years ago and, before that, Lennox Lewis in 1999. Taylor’s promoter Barry McGuigan also won it in 1985.
However, there is no place for the Scot with the winner to come from a list including six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, Manchester City and England footballer Raheem Sterling, athletics’ Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dina Asher-Smith, cricketer Ben Stokes and Welsh rugby player Alun Wyn Jones.
“I was a wee bit surprised as I’ve had 16 fights and unified the division. So, I should have been nominated. I’d hope I’d get a mention at least,” Taylor said. “But you’ve known me long enough, I’m not that interested in all that side of things. I’m not in boxing for the fame. It doesn’t bother me, getting photographs taken.
“In terms of being a celebrity and being Sports Personality of the Year, I’m not fussed. They tend to go for more middle class sports like athletics or golf. Boxing seems to get overlooked for some reason. Maybe because it’s the working man’s sport, I don’t know. It would have been nice to get nominated but it’s not something I’ve given too much thought about.”
Amid the stress of moving into a new house in Haddington, East Lothian – he is currently sleeping on a mattress on the floor awaiting the arrival of a new bed – Taylor has taken some time to reflect on his achievements in London while enjoying some of the finer things in life.
“I’ve watched it back a few times now,” he said. “I had a few messages about how close the fight was, and yes it was close, but I think there was a clear winner.
“I never imagined being unified champion. Being world champion was my dream but I never even considered being unified. It’s a brilliant feeling. The reaction has been incredible. It was a great way to do it, especially being blind in one eye for the last three rounds.
“It just added to the story. All boxing went out of the window at the time but it made it exciting, that’s for sure. I had a great time away in Dubai with my girlfriend Danielle, we even did a sky dive which was incredible. I’ve got a bit of a belly from all the food and drink. I’ve put on a bit of weight but I think it was deserved.”
Taylor is now ready to take his first step back into the gym and is gunning for Jose Ramirez, the current holder of the WBC and WBO belts.
“I’ve not spoken to Barry since the fight, we haven’t been in contact. Viktor Postol has got Ramirez in February so that fight is out the window next,” he explained. “I think I’ve got a mandatory for the IBF so it’s more likely I’ll fight in February or March. March would be ideal so I can get Christmas out of the way.
“So, assuming Ramirez beats Postol, I’d hopefully fight him in the summer. We might sneak one in before the end of next year too so three fights would be ideal, a handy one at the end of the year, a voluntary defence. I think I am due one. Someone in the top 50 or something like that. But fights like that can be a banana skin if you take your eye off the ball and the guy you choose is right up for it as it’s his chance to become world champion.”
■ Josh Taylor was speaking ahead of a community event for young boxers at the German Doner Kebab fast-casual restaurant on Edinburgh’s Lothian Road on Sunday.