By: Jonah Dylan
When Anthony Joshua finally knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round of their 2017 fight of the year, everyone watching knew they were witnessing the birth of a superstar. The famous call from Adam Smith was “Lift off for AJ!”
It wasn’t a knockout, but it felt like a similar moment for Josh Taylor on Saturday in London.
Taylor and Regis Prograis put on a show in London. It was, as they say across the pond, brilliant. And it was a star-making performance for Taylor. Stateside in Reno, Shakur Stevenson just dominated Joet Gonzalez in a fight that didn’t exactly live up to the massive hype it had coming in. Still, we learned a lot about a ton of different fighters.
1. Josh Taylor is a superstar and should be getting pound-for-pound recognition
I’ll admit I thought Prograis would win this fight. This was obviously considered a 50-50 fight, but it seemed like the needle was leaning slightly toward Prograis. He’d just dominated everyone in front of him coming into this fight.
He wasn’t dominated in any way, but Taylor was just too good. Prograis fought a solid fight and has nothing to be ashamed of, but I think we just underestimated how good Taylor’s boxing is. He never really allowed Prograis to get on the inside, at least until the last few rounds when he already had the fight won on the cards. It felt like Prograis was fighting Taylor’s fight most of the night.
There had been some clamoring for Prograis to be on P4P lists before this fight, so it’s only fair we say the same for Taylor now, especially if you look at his resume. Three of his last four opponents have been former champions and he’s won convincingly against them all. I think it’s fair to slot him in around nine or 10.
As for what’s next: I’d favor Taylor ever-so-slightly against Jose Ramirez, but that’s clearly the fight to make. Ramirez will make at least one mandatory defense first, but Taylor-Ramirez is the fight to make for the back half of 2020.
2. Shakur Stevenson is the best featherweight in the world. Full stop.
Listen, I’m not saying you can’t argue for or Gary Russell Jr. or Josh Warrington or whoever (for what it’s worth, I don’t see the point of ranking Russell. He’s made it clear he won’t fight more than once a year and won’t fight anyone of consequence). I just think Stevenson is a level above.
People will say Joet Gonzalez isn’t the best opponent, but he was an undefeated prospect with a lot of hype behind him. Stevenson made him look silly, and the fight was really never in doubt. The 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist has elite movement, hand speed and defense. At 22, I say he beats anyone at 126 and anyone at 130 save for Miguel Berchelt. He’s already that good, and he’s only getting better.
I like the Stevenson-Josh Warrington fight a lot. Warrington would be the underdog in a world title fight yet again, but there would be a lot of high-level stuff here. The Warrington- Kid Galahad fight makes me think this might be an ugly battle, but Stevenson moves a lot more than Galahad.
Stevenson is headed to 130 sooner rather than later, but I’d like to see him stick around for one more fight against Warrington.
3. Dereck Chisora-Aleksandr Usyk would be a really interesting fight.
If I’m Usyk, I’m waiting for Joshua-Ruiz II and assuming the winner will vacate the WBO belt. That means Usyk would fight for a vacant title, though against who is a tricky proposition because the WBO rankings are messy after Usyk. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being Usyk-Dillian Whyte for that belt.
Still, Chisora is a fun guy to watch no matter who he’s in with. Saturday’s fight against David Price wasn’t the most entertaining on Price’s part, but Chisora still made it into a good scrap, as they say. He’s gonna come forward and press the action no matter what, knowing full well he might get caught – like he did by Whyte in their rematch last December.
Against Usyk, Chisora wouldn’t have ot be too worried about the power coming back. Usyk would try to move and avoid Chisora’s onslaught early, probably waiting for the Brit to wear down. It would probably work, and I’d favor Usyk, but it would be a good test of where he’s at as a heavyweight. He’d have to show he could take shots from big punchers and prove he can use his speed and defense to avoid taking too much damage against bigger guys.
If Usyk wants to fight for a world title in his next fight, he can. If he doesn’t think he’s ready and wants to test himself against a legit heavyweight, Chisora is the perfect next opponent. Regardless, sign me up for Chisora against literally anyone.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan.