By: Oliver McManus
JOSH TAYLOR’s rampant rise up the rankings in the super-lightweight division showed no sign of slowing on Saturday night as he fought Viktor Postol, in Glasgow, in a WBC final eliminator.
Promoted by Cyclone Promotions and live on free-to-air television in the United Kingdom, Taylor was in the toughest fight of his 13 bout professional career and against a granite-chinned Ukrainian, The Tartan Tornado would need to be on the top of his game in order to out-box the shrewd Iceman.
Postol was performing in only his second clash over the course of the last 24 months but there’s little doubting the quality of the 34 year old – now living in California – with the former WBC World champion claiming his crown via 10th round knockout against Lucas Matthysse; against Terence Crawford he extended the pound-for-pound great to the full 12 rounds but did little to threaten the reputation of Bud. Taylor, then, represents an immediate path back to world honours as The Iceman Cometh… to Glasgow, he cometh to Glasgow.
The fight started off with the Scottish southpaw and the orthodox-stance Ukrainian circling in the middle of the ring, Taylor punching high with his right jab – against an opponent taller than him – whilst Postol searched in an aggressive fashion, looking to land lunging punches.
Postol found moderate success with some round-the-guard right hands but nothing too concerning for the fans packed into the SSE Arena, left hands from Taylor were finding the body and into the second round, Postol lost his balance from a heavy-shot resulting in him momentarily on one leg.
These early stages of the fight witnessed a plethora of aggressive intent, promising intent, but an unpolished end-product.
Footwork was good from Taylor, keeping his lead left on the outside of Postol’s foot, allowing him the freedom of movement not often allowed to southpaws and the target was clear from Taylor. He was intent on working the body.
Towards the end of round two a cut opened up on the eye of Viktor Postol but it had very little impact going into the rest of the opening third with the continuous trade of punches occurring in the centre of the ring – Postol’s jab popped out less frequently but the pair landed a flurry of good punches each.
A HUGE left jab in the third round sent the crowd into ecstasy but the impact seemed relatively minimal on his experienced counterpart.
Both fighters looked to target the inside of one another, trying to fatigue the bodies but neither boxer was extended to discomfort with both men having periods of success, big shots landed by both with styles meshing to produce an aesthetically attractive fight.
A high tempo with heavy pressure bore great success transitioning into the second stanza of the fight, scampering towards Postol, switching stances and finding considerable success with his jab.
The Ukrainian, former champion, was working well himself, though, fighting from distance and keeping the threat of the, theoretical, challenger at bay. Taylor landed a fierce uppercut, followed by a sweeping left-hook, to render Postol visibly hurt and the first real sign of power-punching came from the home-favourite.
Confidence started to flow from Josh Taylor’s corner but the fight was still being taken at a pulse-shattering pace, and Postol began to emerge back into the contest with a continual jabbing presence as well as acute angle work ensuring that you couldn’t discount the Ukrainian.
Taylor began to look a bit nervous, Postol pushing the Scot back onto the ropes and landing big right hands of his own, snapping the head back of Josh. Both fighters were showing grit, each finding pockets of success.
The final quarter beckoned and the pace didn’t slow but the better work came from Viktor, working a nice short, chipped uppercut to keep Taylor in check. Postol looked tense but had a good work-rate.
Taylor, on the other hand, seemed more relaxed his posture and stance, more patient, and when he managed to open up the body of the Ukrainian he capitalised with punch after punch.
Into the ninth round Josh Taylor resumed his role as the aggressor with a serious of shots landing to the body of Postol – thrown with the full conviction of the Scotsman who twisted his whole body into each and every punch.
An unbelievable right hand connected from Josh but Viktor took it as though it was nothing, Taylor dropped down to the body, landing two, three right hands to the liver of Postol, landing with ease in front of a home crowd and leading the Ukrainian to resort to holding.
Overhand lefts with Postol in the neutral corner got the crowd on the feet and it seemed to hurt Viktor and Josh’s movement proved far superior, toying with his opponent, forcing his man onto a huge counter-hook.
Taylor took to the centre of the ring in the championship rounds, rallying off his previous success, and controlling the pace of the bout; both fighters returned to the jab looking to gain the final rounds on the judges’ scorecards.
A gigantic left hand in the 10th round sent Postol down to the canvas for the fourth time in his last two fights and he looked shocked, his legs began to betray him as Taylor showed superior stamina – despite never having been to 10 rounds before – a straight left hand to the temple of his opponent secured a 10-8 round.
This was the Josh Taylor that British fans have got used to and with that knockdown under his belt there was an air of belief from Josh but Postol returned with solid left hooks in the 11th round before returning to the middle of the ring, pawing left hands being thrown repeatedly before exploding to life with scintillating combination shots.
Taylor started the 12th round like his life depended on it, coming out all guns blazing and looking the fresher of the two men, landing body shot after body shot towards the sides of Postol and Taylor continued to hunt his prey, despite Postol’s best efforts to get away.
The jab of Josh looked like it would be the winning component for him as we entered the final minute and with both fighters continuing to trade the bell sounded to signal the end of the fight – 12 rounds in a final eliminator sanctioned by the WBC – with the crowd fully aware that they had seen one hell of a fight.
To the scorecards we went… 117-110, 118-110, 119-108 all in favour of the new MANDATORY challenger, Josh Taylor who retained his unbeaten ledger, stretching that to 13 fights, 11 knockouts and both eyes firmly on the world title.
Scotland best keep hold of their hats because a tornado’s incoming…