Tag Archives: josh

Josh Taylor Signs With Top Rank

Posted on 01/10/2020

By: Sean Crose

Undefeated junior welterweight titlist Josh Taylor made big news on Thursday when it was announced the 16-0 Scot was signing with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions.  The move is particularly significant for two reasons. First, Taylor can possibly become the undisputed junior welterweight champion of the world. Undisputed champions are far too rare in contemporary boxing. Taylor already holds the WBA and IBF divisional titles as it is. To make things even more mouthwatering, WBO and WBC junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez is a Top Rank fighter. 

Perhaps equally important is the fact that Taylor might move up in weight and challenge Top Rank star Terence Crawford for Crawford’s WBO welterweight title. Crawford, one of the big talents in the business, has been unable to land a major bout due to promotional red tape. Now that Taylor is fighting under the same banner as Crawford, that all may change. 
“Josh Taylor is one of the world’s best fighters,” said Arum, “and he is a fight fan’s fighter, a tough guy willing to fight anyone we put in front of him.” Arum made it clear that big fights might well be in his new acquisition’s future. “Whether it’s Jose Ramirez in a fight for the undisputed junior welterweight title or any of the welterweights out there,” Arum said, “he’s ready for the biggest challenges. I want to thank Josh’s advisors at MTK Global, who have the same goal as us, which is to make him an international star.”

Taylor took the opportunity to let it be known he has his sights set on the future. “A new year, a new decade with lots of new beginnings,” he claimed, “and I’m starting this new decade with a big bang.” The native of Scotland spoke of now having a strong team in place which can elevate his career. “2019 was a huge year for me, but 2020 looks set to be even bigger and I’m delighted to have signed a deal with Top Rank and ESPN and an advisory contract with MTK Global. I believe I am with the best team to take my career to the next level. I couldn’t ask for a better partnership, and I know the future looks bright with this team lighting the way.”
Being with Top Rank, Taylor will now likely have his fights aired on ESPN. His last fight was a decisive win over Regis Prograis last October in a highly publicized matchup. By besting Prograis, Taylor won the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight title. He also picked up the WBA title in the same bout. Things may not be as smooth as Taylor and Arum hope, however, as Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions has expressed displeasure at Thursday’s announcement. “Josh Taylor is under an exclusive worldwide promotional contract with Cyclone Promotions,” the company stated in a release. Aside from Prograis, Taylor, who is known as the “Tartan Tornado,” has defeated such notables as Viktor Postol, Miguel Vazquez, and Ohara Davis. 

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Gervonta Davis Wants Josh Taylor in 2020

Posted on 10/30/2019

By: Hans Themistode

Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) did what many weren’t expecting him to do this past weekend. In front of his hometown crowd at the O2 Arena, Taylor won a close decision over Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs). In the process, Taylor unified his IBF Super Lightweight title with Prograis WBA version. Not only did Taylor become a unified champion, but he also brung home the Muhammad Ali trophy as he won the final match of the World Boxing Super Series.

It was the biggest win for Taylor in a career that has already seen him win his fair share of big contest.

Taylor has always been regarded as an exceptional fighter, but his win over Prograis, who was deemed the best fighter in the division, was a real eye opener. An obvious matchup with the divisions other unified champion in Jose Ramirez would be one of the biggest fights out there.

Ramirez may seem like the clear target for Taylor, but another former world champion has made it known that he has his eyes set on a showdown with the Brit in the not so distant future.

Gervonta Davis, who has a December 28th, date with former multiple division champion Yuriorkis Gamboa, has expressed an interest in taking on Taylor who resides one division above his own.

A matchup between the two would be intriguing and quite possibly a very competitive one. However, Davis feels that the contest will be anything but competitive.

“After 135 I’ll move up to 140 and fight Josh Taylor,” said Davis via Twitter. “I will stop you. I promise you that, 7-8 rd to be exact.”

Taylor took the time to stop his victory celebration to respond to Davis on Twitter as well.

“Never make promises you can’t deliver. They don’t call me the hype job killer for nothing.”

Davis has never been known as the sort of fighter to call out an opponent. He must have seen something in Taylor in his contest against Prograis that has allowed him to speak with such confidence. If this contest was to take place, Davis would enter the ring with multiple disadvantages from a physical standpoint.

It’s true that Davis is one of the hardest hitting fighters in the sport, but so was Taylor’s last opponent in Regis Prograis. Taylor was able to nullify much of Prograis power shots. When the Brit was caught however, which did happen often, he responded liked well and did not seem to be in any major trouble throughout the contest.

A matchup between the two has never been thought of, but it would be one of the biggest in all of boxing. A win over a fighter such as Taylor would prove that Davis is in fact the super star that many have pegged him out to be.

First things first however, Davis must get pass Yuriorkis Gamboa on the 28th of December. If he is able to win that contest and capture another world title in the process, then a showdown with Taylor will be on the forefront of everyone’s mind.

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Three Takeaways from the Weekend: Life Off for Josh Taylor

Posted on 10/29/2019

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.

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What Went Wrong For Regis Prograis?

Posted on 10/28/2019

By: Hans Themistode

The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) was over before it even began. When the field of 8 participants was first announced, it was one helluva field.

Champions such as Kiryl Relikh and Ivan Baranchyk brought plenty of attention to the tournament. While undefeated contenders in Josh Taylor and Anthony Yigit brought interesting value as well. Even the more unknown commodities such as Eduard Troyanovsky, Terry Flanagan and Ryan Martin brought their own flair to the table as well.

Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account

A case could be made for each and everyone of them that they could walk away with the Muhammad Ali trophy in their possession at the end of this tournament.

None of those cases however, were as strong as the one for Regis Prograis.

At the commencement of this tournament, Prograis did not have a title to his name, unless you count the WBC interim championship which isn’t truly a title but more so a belt which signifies that you are the mandatory challenger for the champion. All Prograis had was an undefeated record, a ton of star power and other worldly stills in the ring.

There was a reason why even with a stacked field, that Prograis was chosen to be the last man standing.

Things were going according to plan at the beginning of this tournament. His first round contest against Terry Flanagan could barely be called one. Prograis dominated the action from start to finish. It was much of the same in his next round matchup as he dismantled Kiryl Relikh to the tune of a 6th round stoppage victory. In the process he would pick up his first world title as well.

His trip to the finals were booked and sealed. His opponent on the other side of the ring was Josh Taylor. A young, undefeated British fighter who was a champion in his own right. It was pegged to be a close fight, but one that Prograis would ultimately emerge victoriously from.

The two undefeated belt holders met in the ring this past Saturday night with everything on the line. It was a great contest. After watching it, many even felt as though it was the fight of the year. Following 12 rounds of non stop action, it was Taylor who emerged with the win. It was close, but the right decision was made.

“The better man won tonight,” said Prograis. “I’ll be back.”

The hype train of Prograis was a real thing. He was supposed to win the WBSS, then become the undisputed champion by defeating Jose Ramirez next year. From there, he would move up and make a ton of noise in the Welterweight division. This was the storyline for Prograis. Yet, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Let’s not lose sight of the talent that the now former champion has. At the age of 30, he is in the middle of his physical prime.

Josh Taylor is simply a better fighter than any of us gave him credit for.

Things didn’t go according to plan for Prograis, but if he can sit back and learn from this defeat, then he will reach the heights that we all expect from him.

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Taylor Crowned WBSS and Ring Super-Light Champion

Posted on 10/27/2019

By: Ste Rowen

London may not have been the natural setting for two world champions admired in New Orleans and Scotland but the O2 arena was the place for super-lightweights WBA titlist, Regis Prograis and IBF holder, Josh Taylor to face off in their World Boxing Super Series final, which saw the ‘Tartan Tornado’ Taylor take a majority decision over twelve rounds.

Both unbeaten and both southpaws, the two men predictably did their best to exhibit their boxing prowess in the early rounds other than the slug-a-thon the crowd was baying for. After five rounds it was clear that the two best 140lb fighters had made their way into the final showdown. Taylor appeared the more active and effective boxer, but Prograis was landing the body shots that take effect in the later rounds.

Past the halfway mark, each man had established the respect of the other as the tit-for-tat punches rained free. As the fight stretched further into the ninth, despite being close, it was difficult to look beyond the ‘Tartan Tornado’ Taylor, having the edge on points. Regis was beginning to take more punches than he could seemingly deal with and Josh was fighting as the more confident man.

Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account

The championship rounds came and went in a blur of tactile nous and slightly desperate power punching. Prograis finished stronger but it seemed that as the final bell rang, the Scot, Josh Taylor who came into tonight with a pro record of 15-0 (12KOs), was ready to sit on the 140lb throne. The final judges scorecards came back as, 114-114, 115-113, 117-112 in favour of Taylor.

Speaking post-fight, the swollen eyed, but newly crowned WBA, IBF, Ring and World Boxing Super Series super-lightweight champion dished out the credit and called out WBC champion Jose Ramirez,
‘‘What a fight, all respect to Regis, he’s a great champion and was very strong. I wish him a ll the best going on. I knew I could get to him. I don’t think he expected me to be able to switch it up so easily.
Jose Ramirez, where you at? Let’s do it!’’

Co-main for tonight that saw a matchup that would’ve been better off happening around six years ago, deliver exactly what most anticipated. British Dereck Chisora battered fellow countryman, David Price around the ring for almost four rounds to score a stoppage victory and claim the WBO Inter-Continental belt.

Chisora was the aggressor once the first bell rang, swinging from the hip, aiming to land that one shot that could and has dropped Price on so many occasions. Price was saved by the bell at the end of the third as Chisora rifled hooks off the Liverpudlian’s temple, and with just over a minute, Price hit the canvas, but despite rising to his feet, the taller man was finished, and his corner threw the towel in.

Dereck, now 32-9 (23KOs),

‘‘I came to seek and destroy, and I knew once I caught him, it was done…He buzzed me, caught me with an uppercut but I recovered.

If we can get Joseph Parker then let’s get it done ASAP. Hopefully he doesn’t get a spider bite this time.’’

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Regis Prograis vs Josh Taylor: A Pound For Pound Spot Awaits The Winner

Posted on 10/26/2019

By: Hans Themistode

The pound for pound list is just about set in stone. Names such as Vasiliy Lomachenko, Canelo Alvarez, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr, Oleksandr Usyk and a very select few currently occupy that list.

In order for a relatively new fighter to join these elite ranks, he needs to do something extraordinary. It isn’t simply enough to win a world title. Fighting and defeating elite competition, while also being known as either the best or second best in your division gives a fighter a chance to be mentioned amongst the best in the sport.

This Saturday night, in front of a packed crowd at the O2 arena in London, IBF Super Lightweight champion Josh Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs) and WBA belt holder Regis Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs) have a chance to make their mark.

Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account

The two undefeated champions will collide in the World Boxing Super Series finale. Not only will the winner become a unified champion, but they will also walk away with the famed Muhammad Ali trophy as well.

If you ask just about anyone for a prediction on the outcome of this contest, you’ll be hard pressed to receive an answer. With all due respect to unified champion Jose Ramirez, but these are the consensus two best fighters in the Super Lightweight division.

Contests between the best fighters in any division often times lead to close outcomes. There is a reason why Errol Spence Jr and Shawn Porter was such a closely contested contest. The same applies for Deontay Wilder in his matchup against Tyson Fury. Prograis and Taylor will ultimately follow in the same footsteps as those aforementioned contest as well. Or at least it should it.

If you ask Prograis however, he is adamant that this will not be a close contest.

“It’s not a 50/50 fight,” said Prograis. “I’m a show y’all that this is not a 50/50 fight. I’m going to show you guys on fight night. I’m going to show how much more superior I am than him. I don’t understand how anyone can even see that this will be close.”

Prograis didn’t simply stop there. He made one more statement on how he expects this fight to play out.

“I’m going to beat the shit out of him tomorrow.”

Staying true to form, Taylor didn’t hold back his owns words when regarding the matchup.

“I believe I can knock him out,” said Taylor.

With just a few hours remaining before everything is settled, the anticipation is at an all-time high. For these fighters, the recognition as a unified champion, coupled with the Muhammad Ali trophy and a career high payday is mostly every fighters dream. But that is just the beginning.

The winner of this contest will have an argument to be mentioned amongst the best fighters in the world, regardless of weight classes.

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Fight Preview: Greer vs. Nieves, Stevenson vs. Gonzalez

Posted on 10/24/2019

By: William Holmes

On Saturday Night the Reno/Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada will be the host site for a Top Rank Promotions Card that will be televised live on ESPN+.

Former Olympian Shakur Stevenson will be fight for the vacant WBO Featherweight Title as he takes on veteran Joet Gonzalez. The co-main event of the night is a bantamweight fight between Josh Greer and Antonio Nieves.

Other bouts on the card include a female junior lightweight bout between Mikaela Mayer and Alejandra Soledad Zamora.

Photo Credit: Top Rank Promotions Website

Boxers such as Albert Bell, Frank De Alba, Jason Sanchez, Andy Vences, and Mark Bernaldez will be fighting on the undercard.

The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.

Josh Greer Jr. (21-1-1) vs. Antonio Nieves (19-2-2); Bantamweights

Josh Greer is a young prospect that has been extremely active since 2017. He fought twice in 2019, four times in 2018, and four times in 2017. His opponent, Antonio Nieves, is seven years older than him and has not been as active. He fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and twice in 2017…in which he lost both fights in 2017.

They are the same height and Nieves will have about a two and a half inch reach advantage over him. Neither boxer is known for their power, Greer has twelve stoppage wins while Nieves has eleven. However, Greer has won four of his past five fights by stoppage.

Nieves does appear to have an edge in amateur experience, as he was a National Golden Gloves Silver Medalist while Greer does not have any notable amateur titles or medals.

Greer has defeated the likes of Nikolai Potapov, Giovanni Escaner, Daniel Lozano, Glenn Dezurn, and James Smith. His lone loss was to the undefeated Stephen Fulton and he has a draw with Mario Ayala. Both his loss and draw were early on in his career.

Nieves has defeated the likes of Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Christian Esquivel, and Alejandro Santiago Barrios. His losses were to Naoya Inoue and Nikolai Potapov.

This should be an intriguing and possibly close fight. Nieves has been in the ring with some very tough opponents and Greer is a young up and coming contender. Greer has to be considered a slight favorite in this fight, and it should help determine if he’s a legitimate challenger or not.

Shakur Stevenson (12-0) vs. Joet Gonzalez (23-0); WBO Featherweight Title

On paper, this looks to be the toughest fight of Shakur Stevenson’s career.

Stevenson will have a two inch height advantage over Gonzalez, but that will be negated by the two inch reach advantage that Gonzalez has. Both boxers are young, with Stevenson being twenty two years old and Gonzalez being twenty six years old. Both boxers are undefeated as a professional and have been fairly active.

Stevenson fought three times in 2019 and five times in 2018. Gonzalez fought twice in 2019 and three times in 2018. It appears that Gonzalez might have a slight edge in power as he has stopped fourteen of his opponents while Stevenson has only stopped seven. But three of the past four fights by Stevenson have resulted in a stoppage victory.

Stevenson does have a significant edge in amateur experience and accolades. Stevenson was a former US National Champion as an amateur and a Silver Medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Gonzalez has no notable amateur championships.

Stevenson is a southpaw and Gonzalez fights out of an orthodox stance. This can often be a problem for less experienced fighters, but for a boxer with the amateur pedigree of Stevenson, it shouldn’t be an issue.

Stevenson has defeated the likes of Alberto Guevara, Christopher Diaz, Jessie Cris Rosales, Viorel Simion, and Aelio Mesquita. Every boxer Stevenson has defeated had a winning record at the time.

Gonzalez has defeated the likes of Manuel Avila, Rodrigo Guerrero, Rafael Rivera, and Derrick Murray.

This fight will be a good test for Stevenson as he chases his first legitimate world title. Gonzalez should challenge him, but Stevenson is one of the sport’s brightest prospects and it’s likely he will show the world why on Saturday night.

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Warrington Wins to Set Up Unification

Posted on 10/14/2019

By: Oliver McManus

Josh Warrington has become used to late nights by now; his fight against Sofiane Takoucht was no different. The opening bell rang out at the Leeds Arena just past 11.15pm – at the same time TJ Doheny was in an eight rounder in Chicago – with Warrington making the third defense of his IBF world title. The featherweight across the ring was expected to provide a ‘routine’ work-out for Warrington

The start was measured with Warrington eager not to stumble over Takoucht’s southpaw stance. The Frenchman’s lead right was a cause of some early awkwardness with both fighters treading on one another’s feet – accidentally, albeit. Warrington was willing to bide his time in doubling up on the jab and settled for ‘little and often’ in the initial proceedings. A flurry of last minute aggression signalled his intent and put Takoucht on the back-burner.

Though Takoucht was replicating the trickiness of Kid Galahad, Warrington’s last opponent, it was clear that the Champion had adapted suitably. There was an increased tempo in the second round as more punches found their range before a clean right hand caught the Frenchman brash across the face. A flash knockdown and early success for Warrington.

Photo Credit: Frank Warren_tv twitter account

Seconds later and the head of Takoucht became an open target and Warrington pursued it. Like a gorilla playing with the watermelon before devouring it, two quick shots dropped the challenger to the canvas. To his feet he rose, once more, but with the bit between his teeth there was to be no third chance; Warrington was relentless. Barrages of punches scrambled Takoucht, who just couldn’t regain his marbles, and Bob Williams showed compassion in stopping the contest in the third round. Unification surely must now be on the horizon.

Moston light-heavyweight Lyndon Arthur picked up the Commonwealth light-heavyweight title in somewhat awkward fashion. The ‘King’ was facing Emmanuel Anim, 14-2, and struggled with the unorthodox nature of the Ghanaian. Arthur grew in confidence to edge his way into the contest as Anim remained one-dimensional.

Anim, predominantly a super middleweight, looked diminutive in comparison to the macho-man figure of Arthur; 6”2’ tall and stockily built. The Ghanaian made the brighter start and put pressure on Arthur in the first round, forcing the home fighter to temporarily cover up. Anim’s ambition shook up the heavy pre-fight favourite who was struggling to establish a keen jab.

The sharpness from Anim was evident of his former life at 168lbs and he ‘lunged’ into punches far more than most light-heavyweight’s; looking to quickly change the distance of the fight. Shots swung in from all arms of the clock but the predominant success was when Lyndon Arthur tied himself up on the ropes.

To his credit Arthur, accomplished as an amateur, remained calm as he rode the oncoming storm. Perhaps looking to lull Anim into a false sense of security, there was no sense of panic as the rounds progressed. It was only a third into the contest that Arthur started to take a step back in response to Anim’s aggression; a fairly jolting reverse, rarely lateral or angular.

It made little difference to Arthur’s power which was unfurled in earnest for the first time in round four. A range-finding left jab was followed up by a sharp, striking straight right hand caught Anim on the button. The Ghanaian was down, easy as you like. That prompted more frequency to the success of the Moston fighter; a solid uppercut the pick of the punches in the fifth round.

Arthur inched his way into the contest in the middle rounds but the bout remained untidy.The movement of Anim was far superior and he was able to scamper around the ring without much resistance. In return the punches of Arthur became looser, a good thing, with spiteful power attached.

The eighth round saw Arthur in serious trouble despite the same-same attacks from Anim. Every flurry was ‘lungey’ and speculative but Arthur was failing to get to grips with that threat. Those predictable swings had Arthur writhing on the ropes in response but Anim’s inexperience proved dividends as he sat on Arthur’s chest, unable to produce a finish.

A brave response followed in the ninth with Arthur dictating proceedings. Pat Barrett did well to reassure his charge and he came out with relaxed shoulders, backing Anim up with his punches and boxing as he should have done from the start. Arthur boxed assuredly, despite relentless pressure from Anim, potentially to a fault. Urgency was required from Arthur, especially when Anim flagged, but the bout was fought at a similar pace throughout.

Not the most aesthetically pleasing of contests but an interesting one, certainly. 115-112, 117-110, 117-111 in favour of Lyndon Arthur.

There was silkier success for super-featherweight Zelfa Barrett who defended his Commonwealth title against Jordan McCorry. The tenacious Cambuslang challenger was fighting his third Queensbury fighter in quick succession. Barrett settled quickly, as he always does, and utilised the basics very well.

The nephew of Pat, former British and European champion, started quietly but efficiently. The sole loss on Barrett’s record was a fiercely-fought bout against Ronnie Clark but, that fight aside, he’s consistently been patient in his approach. McCorry is notoriously difficult to shift so there was no gung-ho approach from either fighter.

Barrett’s appreciation for the finer details is a rare commodity for a modern day fighter and his dedication to hammering hooks blasted the body of McCorry in the third round. Three in the opening couple minutes softened the guts before Barrett landed four, five in succession at the centre of the ring to visibly sap the breath out of his opponent.

McCorry came back strong in the fourth as he led the charge with optimistic punches – both landing punches, taking punches. A real ebb and flow developed to the encounter with a knockdown bringing the best out in McCorry and, in doing so, producing more quality work from Barrett. Both fighters produced quality moments and landed decent punches but, overall, the classier work was from the Manchester fighter. Barrett, for all his youth, boxing distinctly years above the 26 he possesses. More body punches took their toll on McCorry in the eighth who dropped to the canvas in sheer exhaustion.

Enough was enough in the ninth with McCorry down again and shaking his head; an exemplary performance from Barrett. At the end of the bout it was the Manchester man that took the share of the spoils, deservedly so, with the better work throughout the contest. Brave from McCorry, as we’ve come to expect, but beautiful from Barrett. Crisp, class, composed.

The televised undercard also saw two eye-catching Queensbury debuts for Shabaz Masoud (5-0) and George Davey (debut). Masoud looked fresh on his feet and picked his shots well to win 60-54 against Yesner Talavera. Davey was relaxed and looked to enjoy the occasion, flicking punches out with ease, to beat Zygimantas Butkevicious.

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Fight Preview: Warrington vs. Takoucht

Posted on 10/10/2019

By: Oliver McManus

IBF world champion Josh Warrington looks to defend his featherweight title for a third time when he faces Sofiane Takoucht this Saturday. Having cast his eyes across the horizon and to unifications Stateside, another fight in Leeds arrives very much as a ‘bonus’ for his home city.

Warrington’s first two world title bouts – against Lee Selby and Carl Frampton – were full-throated, high-tempo encounters with merely the edge of your seat required. His latest, against Kid Galahad, resulted in a more stuttery, cagey affair to test the temperament of Warrington but he scraped past. Takoucht represents a separate kettle of fish and, Warrington will hope, a more routine night of work.

The French fighter, obscurely nicknamed ‘Babyface’ despite looking every bit his 33 years, is an experienced operator having been professional since 2006. In 2010 he won the ‘Golden Gloves’ – awarded to the best French boxer each year – for his win against Oleg Yefimovych to become European champion. Since then his career has stalled substantially as he lost then regained the EBU title whilst perpetually staying busy in six and eight rounders.

Two fights for the IBF International strap, against win-some-lose-some opponents, has seen Takoucht installed at 4th in the IBF rankings. Indeed he’ll represent the first official southpaw challenge for Warrington since Dennis Tubieron in April 2015; though Kid Galahad did dally with the stance in their fight.

His sticky southpaw stance would look to be his greatest hope to upset the applecart with Warrington visibly struggling whenever Galahad operated from southpaw. Warrington was unable to dip the knees and utilise his ferocious work-rate against Galahad and was nullified for much of the fight as a result. If Takoucht can replicate those ‘spoiler’ tactics in order to disrupt the forthright pocket-pressure fighting of Warrington then it could be a very, very long night for the Leeds boxer.

Should all go to plan for the defending champion then he could move to 30-0 in breezy fashion; Warrington has proven himself against elite fighters and Takoucht has yet to step up from borderline continental. His fight against Carl Frampton was a perfect display of self-confidence transferring into the ring with a perfect game plan.

He refused to box recklessly nor get carried away when he dropped Frampton in the first round but remained resolute in boxing in bursts to ensure he was picking up rounds. It really was an impressive performance, dare you say ‘a coming of age’. Takoucht could be a banana skin but it seems more likely he’s a toffee apple ripe for Warrington to get stuck into.

The undercard sees Zelfa Barrett defend his Commonwealth super featherweight belt against Jordan McCorry. Barrett, still just 26, is becoming increasingly joyous to watch with a real respect for the ‘craft’ of boxing. ‘Brown Flash’ has grown rapidly as a fighter to collect 22 wins since turning pro in 2014 but, arguably, his sole loss has been his biggest blessing. That blemish came against Ronnie Clark in February 2018 and it is evident just how much Barrett took from that experience.

There was no licking of wounds after a very close and enthralling contest but an immediate desire to better himself and correct that wrong. A rematch, for various reasons, has yet to materialise but he has already pushed on to a different level. Against Leon Woodstock in June he boxed beautifully from range with a real slick, sleek finish to his work – nothing scrappy, nothing done by half measures. In a way he’s an ‘old school’ fighter prioritising the technique over any showmanship but – in doing so – he’s emerged as a breath of fresh air in a crowded division.

McCorry will be facing his third Frank Warren fighter in the 2019 – having already boxed Sam Bowen and Archie Sharp – but he’ll be hoping to register his first such win. Three of his last four fights have been losses. The Cambuslang man has proven himself to be a gritty operator to test the top domestic fighters but he’s yet to go one further and mount a serious challenge.

Hot prospect Lyndon Arthur is rewarded for his patience with the first title shot of his career; the Moston boxer has been picking up the wins without much fuss since debuting in 2016. Now 15-0 he’ll face Emmanuel Anim for the vacant Commonwealth light heavyweight title. The former WSB boxer has yet to look troubled with Charles Adamu the only opponent not to be stopped or kiss the canvas.

Four knockouts since have seen Arthur hit a nice rhythm and he always looks slightly more menacing than his previous contest. This fight is a real opportunity to loosen up and make a statement to open doors. Anim isn’t expected to be a stiff test, having campaigned at super middle for most of his career, but he can swing speculatively and that’s always a risk.

Fellow Team GB representative Troy Williamson gets his first title crack: against Navid Mansouri for the WBO Intercontinental super welterweight title. The fight represents a significant step up for Williamson as he fights a former English champion but the Darlington man has been relishing such a test for a while. He finds himself on a three fight knockout streak but Mansouri is likely to test his technical ability.

Mansouri has boxed exclusively in Spain since 2018 with four wins and a loss. He is a proven title fighter, mainly at super welter, with a highlight win over Sam Sheedy. The MTK fighter is penciled in to challenge Stephen Danyo at super welter in November so perhaps hedging his bets for this one.

A hatful of six rounders feature with Shabaz Masoud, Mark Heffron, Shakiel Thompson, John Jouce and Reece Mould all in action. Callum Simpson and, debutants, George Davey and Muhammad Ali greeting the early visitors in a trio of four rounders.

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Regis Prograis: “I’m Looking Forward To Fighting The Best Josh Taylor”

Posted on 09/02/2019

By: Sean Crose

“I’m very excited to get everything settled for this fight,” the 24-0 Regis Prograis says. “This is the fight I wanted the most and it’s the fight to prove who is the best in the division. My goal has always been the same and that’s to prove I’m the best 140lbs fighter in the world and to become undisputed.” Prograis will be facing the 15-0 Josh Taylor for the World Boxing Super Series’ Ali trophy for the super lightweight division. The bout will go down at London’s O2 arena on October 26th, and will be streamed live on DAZN.

Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account

“It has always been a dream for me to fight in London,” says Prograis. “The boxing fans in the UK are some of the best in the world and I can’t wait to go and put on a show. I know once they see me fight they’ll be fans for life.” Although he has a well deserved hard hitting reputation, Prograis makes it clear he’s not going to take Taylor lightly. “Taylor is in my opinion is the 2nd 140lbs in the world after myself. He had two great performances leading into the finals and I’m looking forward to fighting the best Josh Taylor on October 26th.”

As for Scotland’s Taylor, the man is clearly eager to face New Orleans’ native Prograis. “I’m massively excited,” Taylor says. “I want to prove that I’m the best in the division by taking on the best fighters. Now it’s finally over the line I can concentrate on getting to work in the gym and going full steam ahead again.” Taylor goes on to say he feels he has the goods to beat his highly regarded American opponent. “I’m very confident that I can outbox him and outfight him as well,” he says. “I can’t see anything other than a Josh Taylor win on October 26. It will be a huge buzz to fight for the Muhammad Ali trophy in front of a huge crowd at The O2. I believe that I am the best fighter in the division and now it’s time to prove it.”

Per Matchroom Boxing: “Prograis and Taylor entered the WBSS and the quest for the Ali Trophy as the two highest-seeded boxers in a loaded Super-Lightweight bracket. No.1 seed Prograis earned his spot in the final by outdoing Terry Flanagan on points last October, and then went on to stop Kiryl Relikh in six rounds and take the WBA World title in the semi in late April. Meanwhile, No.2 seed Taylor stopped Ryan Martin in round 7 last November, and then proceeded to decision Ivan Baranchyk to claim the IBF World title in May.”

As things stand, Prograis, who is known as “Rougarou,” holds the WBA world and WBC diamond super lightweight titles while Taylor, who is known as “The TartanTornado,” holds the IBF word and WBC silver super lightweight titles. The October 26th card will also see the 31-9 heavyweight veteran Derek Chisora face off against the 26-2 Joseph Parker, who once held the WBO world heavyweight title. Both Prograis-Taylor and Chisora-Parker are scheduled for 12 rounds.

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Josh Warrington vs. Kid Galahad Fight Preview

Posted on 06/12/2019

By: Oliver McManus

Josh Warrington embarks on the second defense of his IBF featherweight title this Saturday when he faces Kid Galahad in a contest pitting Leeds’ home hero against the prickly-natured Sheffield-based mandatory challenger. Neither are shy of the spotlight and Warrington has been in full song surrounding his technical superiority whilst Galahad and, trainer, Dominic Ingle are sanguine that they have spotted weaknesses.

An aggressively ran marketing campaign from BT Sport is aimed at positioning Warrington as an eternal underdog; ‘written off 28 times’, when in reality questions have merely been raised as to the ceiling of Warrington’s ability, is the strapline spearheading BT’s adverts. A bloodied war with, kingpin at the time, Lee Selby saw Warrington wrestle the IBF belt away from Wales whilst he outgunned Carl Frampton in an assured display of aggression last December – ‘underdog’ is a severe injustice for the defending champion.

Kid Galahad, who was suspended between 2014 and 2016 after testing positive for stanozolol, remains unmoved by the ruthless performances of his adversary as he insists he’s “better than Frampton in every department”. The 29 year old will be looking for a far more composed gameplan that of Frampton, who was rocked in each of the first two rounds, as he gains a foothold in the contest from early doors. Three contests in 2018 showed a maturity from Galahad that has, arguably, been missing from previous performances with a measured tempo that allowed him to pick off rounds with relative ease.

Against Irving Berry (his first contest of 2018) he was able to strike up a fairly relaxed rhythm from the off and climbed through the gears in nonchalant fashion. An innocuous left hook caught Berry flush on the chin having narrowly missed moments earlier and the contest was over, just like that. In his other contests, against Toka Kahn Clary and Brayan Mairena, there was a tendency to favor a looping right hook to the body whilst remaining sharp with his upper body movement.

The defending champion, a 2/7 favorite in actuality, has cultivated a reputation as a puncher over recent fights: in thanks to his gritty, come-forward adventures against Selby and Warrington. Marginally younger, aged 28, energy has always been a huge plus for Warrington and he has frequently shown he’s the fresher fighter when championship rounds beckon; against Selby and Frampton he was effective in efficiently conserving energy by fighting in bursts of full-throttle commitment and stepping off the gas intuitively.

Such audaciously mature performances against two established featherweight figures, rightly, set the division on notice as to the little warrior from Leeds: a fighter whose ability was once questioned has rounded out his ability over the next couple years and now fights on resoundingly more than just “heart”. Make no mistake, however, that raw passion for fighting and success marks him out from Galahad – a fighter whose desire has been questioned in the build-up – and instantly gives Warrington the immediate ‘invincible’ mental edge.

Given the success he has found since inking a deal with Frank Warren, in 2017, you simply can find no logical ground for betting against the reigning IBF champion because, as we know, he always saves his best for when he’s written off.

The undercard sees a double scoop of domestic dust-ups as Zelfa Barrett and Lyon Woodstock clash for the vacant Commonwealth super featherweight title and JJ Metcalf and Jason Welborn compete for the vacant Commonwealth super welterweight belt. Both Barrett and Woodstock are no stranger to ‘getting involved’ with fellow rising prospects – both suffered their first loss last year: against Ronnie Clark and Archie Sharp, respectively- and display a refreshing eagerness to waste no time in getting back in at the deep end.

A rough and tumble contest against Clark, in which Barrett was dropped in the sixth, resulted in a marginal loss (via majority decision) for ‘Brown Flash’ with the fight proving a tough learning ground the nephew of Pat – himself a former European champion. An immediate rematch with Clark was touted but circumstance convened to frustrate the 25 year old and he has been limited to just two stay-busy bouts in the intervening sixteen months. Since turning professional in 2014 he has advanced to a record of 21-1 with notable victories over Chris Conwell (a fourth round knockout) and a one round destruction of Jordan Ellison. Certainly a power puncher with a penchant for ballistically hammering away with body shots, the only way Barrett really knows how to fight is with fire.

His counterpart for this contest is himself no stranger to a scrap with his contest against Sharp (in October) a contender for domestic fight of the year but, largely, is far more laid back when in the ring. Philosophically-oriented outside of the ring with a love for relaxing by watching documentaries, you can see this bleed into his fighting style with an almost spiritual aura encompassing him. The 25 year old has proven to be a strong counter puncher and that should serve as a bold contrast to the rugged aggression of Barrett but, he too, has the desire to go against the stereotypical grain of a professional boxer. The ‘0’ has never mattered for Woodstock and it’s always been about fighting the best to be the best.

Much like rollercoasters you probably shouldn’t watch this fight if you’re of a nervous disposition because this is going to loosen a bowel or two.

JJ Metcalf, the original opponent for Liam Williams on December 22nd, finds himself back in a big fight having brushed off the niggle with an eight round knockout over Santos Medrano back in April. The Merseyside fighter is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to momentum with just two fights in the last 20 months but when he has boxed he’s looked mighty impressive. Five knockouts on the trot against guys who rarely get stopped, a mixture of journeymen and continental contenders, are a testament to the sheer size of Metcalf: a relatively big super welterweight, in terms of physique, he is able to hold his punches superbly.
The same, however, can be said for Welborn who will likely come into the ring the bigger man having campaigned at middleweight for much of 2018 so you can almost guarantee this will be a case of ‘swinging and slugging’. The 33 year old’s last fight came on the undercard of Wilder-Fury with a world title challenge against Jarrett Hurd and Welborn was caught unawares by a huge body shots in the fourth round. Against Metcalf he’ll be facing an opponent of a far more level calibre and, indeed, Welborn will be confident that, having nullified Tommy Langford on two occasions, he’s a level above his unbeaten opponent.

A trio of fights that go without the hype and hyperbole of pay-per-view yet are bound to deliver far more bang for your buck than ‘main event’ from Las Vegas just hours afterwards. The perennial underdog for once finds himself a favourite but he can’t afford to slip up against an untested challenger and the undercard, well, that’s anyone’s guess.

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Josh Warrington-Kid Galahad Title Fight Heading To Jan. 24 Purse Bid

Posted on 01/14/2019

By Jake Donovan

Barely three business days after being ordered to negotiate, the ordered featherweight title fight between Josh Warrington and Kid Galahad is already heading to a purse bid.

The two sides were given thirty (30) days from January 7 to negotiate terms for the International Boxing Federation (IBF)-sanctioned featherweight title fight. However, Galahad—the mandatory challenger—and his team have already decided to cease talks and instead cut to the chase.

Photo Credit: Josh Warrington Twitter Account

“he IBF has ordered a purse bid for the mandatory defense of the Featherweight title between Champion Josh Warrington and #1 ranked contender Kid Galahad,” IBF spokesperson Jeanette Salazar informed in a release. “Warrington was ordered to negotiate with Galahad on January 7, 2019.

“On January 12, the IBF received a written certification from Eddie Hearn on behalf of Kid Galahad and Matchroom Boxing indicating that they were no longer willing to participate in negotiations and requested an immediate purse bid pursuant to IBF Rule 10A.”

The purse bid hearing is scheduled for January 24 at 12:00pm, to take place at the IBF headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey.

Any hopes of civil negotiations seemed dead on arrival, given the contentious history between the two promoters involved.

Warrington is with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, while Galahad (birth name Abdul Barry Awad) fights under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing banner. Warren and Hearn rarely do business together, but are willing to do so when the opportunity makes sense.

Warrington (28-0, 6KOs) signed with Warren in 2017, shortly after parting ways with Hearn with whom he worked with for the prior three years. Warren has network deals with BT Sport in the United Kingdom as well as ESPN’s streaming platform—ESPN+—in the United States, while Hearn has for years worked with Sky Sports and the primary content provider for sports streaming service DAZN.

Both boxers were last seen fighting on the desired platforms of their respective promoters.

Warrington made the first defense of his featherweight title with a rousing 12-round win over former two-division champ Carl Frampton last December in Manchester, England. The bout aired live on BT Sport Pay-Per-View in the UK and on ESPN+ in the U.S.

The victory capped a breakout year for Warrington. The unbeaten 28-year old claimed the title in a May ’18 points win over Lee Selby in his Leeds hometown. Following his thriller with Frampton, it was hoped that Warrington would be steered towards unification clashes with Oscar Valdez (who returns February 2 on ESPN) or Premier Boxing Champions’ pair of titlists Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr.

Instead, he was ordered to next defend versus his mandatory challenger, given his bout was Frampton was deemed his lone-allowed voluntary defense.

Galahad (26-0, 15KOs) earned his way to a title shot following a 12-round win over Toka Khan-Clary in their title eliminator this past October. The bout took place in Boston, marking Galahad’s stateside debut along with his first appearance on DAZN.

While both sides come armed with lucrative network deals, there’s no guarantee that either lands the promotional rights to the fight. Because the mandatory title fight is now subject to a purse hearing, all IBF-registered promoters are free to bid on the contest. The winning bidder will also have to submit on the spot a 10% deposit of the total purse amount along with proposed dates and locations in order to be accepted.

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Josh Warrington vs. Kid Galahad Featherweight Title Fight Ordered By IBF

Posted on 01/07/2019

By: Jake Donovan

Any hopes for Josh Warrington to land in a featherweight title unification bout will have to wait at least one fight longer.

Barely two weeks removed from his thrilling points win over former two-division champ Carl Frampton, the unbeaten Brit has been issued his marching orders for his next title defense. It won’t be a unification bout with the likes of Oscar Valdez, Leo Santa Cruz or Gary Russell Jr., rather a clash with mandatory challenger Kid Galahad.

Word came down on Monday from the International Boxing Federation (IBF), whose featherweight title Warrington claimed in a 12-round win over Lee Selby last May.

“(Josh) Warrington has been ordered to next face (Kid) Galahad,” IBF spokesperson Jeanette Salazar confirmed to BoxingInsider.com.

The two sides will have 30 days to negotiate terms for such a bout, or else will be subjected to a February 6 purse bid hearing. At any time during such talks, either side can request an immediate purse bid in the event it’s clear that there isn’t any chance of reaching a deal.

There are several layers to peel back regarding such talks. Warrington is with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, while Galahad (birth name Abdul Barry Awad) fights under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing banner.

Warrington (28-0, 6KOs) signed with Warren in 2017, shortly after parting ways with Hearn with whom he worked with for the prior three years. Warren has network deals with BT Sport in the United Kingdom as well as ESPN’s streaming platform—ESPN+—in the United States, while Hearn has for years worked with Sky Sports and the primary content provider for sports streaming service DAZN.

Both boxers were last seen fighting on the desired platforms of their respective promoters.

Warrington’s instant classic with Frampton topped a December 22 bill which streamed live on ESPN+ for stateside viewers, while playing to Pay-Per-View in the U.K. Warrington prevailed via unanimous decision in the first defense of the title he snatched from Selby, capping a breakout year for the Leeds boxer.

Galahad (26-0, 15KOs) earned his way to a title shot following a 12-round win over Toka Khan-Clary in their title eliminator this past October. The bout took place in Boston, marking Galahad’s stateside debut along with his first appearance on DAZN.

The unbeaten 28-year old has since resurfaced in a stay-busy bout, scoring an eight-round shutout of Brayan Malrena in his adopted hometown of Sheffield on December 8. The bout came in supporting capacity to Sheffield’s favorite son, former welterweight titlist Kell Brook whom outpointed Michael Zerefa atop the Sky Sports-aired/DAZN-streamed telecast.

While there have been past instances where a defending titlist can bypass a mandatory defense in favor of an approved unification bout, such a scenario will not apply to this contest. Warrington was already mandated to face Galahad by the time he stepped into the ring to face Frampton in a voluntary defense.

The aforementioned bout came with the blessing of the IBF on the condition that he would next defend versus Galahad. Neither boxer can take a fight in the interim.

Assuming neither party backs out, the contest will likely take place in early spring. Where it lands will, of course, depend entirely upon which side secures promotional rights.

As both sides come in armed with lucrative deals from platforms eager to secure as much content as possible, nothing short of a bidding war is expected.

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Josh Taylor Confident Ahead of World Boxing Super Series Debut

Posted on 10/15/2018

By: Michael Kane

The World Boxing Super Series rolled into Glasgow today for a press conference ahead of their November 3rd show at the SSE Hydro Arena.

Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9 KO’S) defends his WBA ‘Unified’ championship against former multiple division world champion and legend of the sport Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24 KO’s)

However all eyes today were on a boxer, in which Scottish hopes of another world champion rest on, Prestonpans Josh Taylor.

Taylor (13-0, 11 KO’s) takes on American Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KO’s) in a quarter final tie, with Taylor defending his WBC Silver Super Lightweight Title.

Taylor will be returning to a familiar venue having fought his last two fights at the Hydro, beating Winston Campos by 3rd round TKO in March and then an unanimous decision over former world champion Viktor Postol in June. Taylor also won gold at the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow in 2014 as an amateur.

When asked about appearing at the Hydro Taylor said, “Its brilliant, I feel the Hydro is now my home, I’ve had such great success there since 2014.

“My biggest victories as a professional have been in the Hydro as well, so it definitely feels like my home. Looking forward to get travelling, going around the world as part of this tournament and seeing different places.”

What does Taylor expect to face from Martin?

“I’ve only seen bits and bobs of him, I’ve studied enough of him to know what I need to watch for.

“I know he’s a very well rounded fighter, got fast hands, good defensively. Good variation of punches and knows his way around the ring. He’s obviously got power as well although his record doesn’t say, only got 12 stoppages in his 22 wins.

“I know he’s going to throw punches and be strong and I’ll have my hands full. I’m fully confident I’m going to come out on top.”

Taylor continued to say how he feels great in training and more settled.

“The way I’ve been performing in the gym, I’m more settled now, got myself my own place down in London. So I’m settled, happy and I’m firing in the gym.

“I feel this is the best shape and condition I’ve been in since I turned professional, so feeling really confident.”

Taylor went on to say how he feels invincible fighting in front of his own fans.

“I think it’s brilliant, I don’t think there is anybody that will beat me in front of those fans at the Hydro.

“The atmosphere they make, the noise they make and the support they give me, they throw every single punch with me. So there is no way anybody will beat me in the Hydro, definitely no!”

There are a host of quality Super Lightweight fighters in the tournament, Regis Prograis, former world champion Terry Flanagan and WBA champion Kiryl Relikh. Does Taylor fear any of them?

“I’m not really fussed about any of the opposition. I feel I can beat every single one of them that’s in this competition.

“With that being said, they’re all good fighters, with good amateur careers and very tough fighters. They’re all undefeated, I think. Yeah it’s stiff opposition but I’m fully confident I’m going to come away with the trophy.”

With the World Boxing Super Series being a tournament, Taylor already knows who he could face in the semi finals should he over come Martin. He will face the winner of Ivan Baranchyk v Anthony Yigit who are fighting for the vacant IBF world championship.

Does Taylor have a preference?

“I don’t care. I think Baranchyk will probably get through that and if so I’m confident I can win that.

“And if Yigit wins it I know I will win that fight as well. I’ve had experience of him in the ring as a professional and experience of him in the amateurs as well. So I’m fairly confident of winning that fight so I’m not bothered who I face.”

With all indications pointing to a packed Hydro Arena backing Taylor, few would bet against him beating Martin and making it to the semi final for a chance at his first world title shot.

The hopes of Scotland rest on his shoulders to add another world champion to a list that includes Benny Lynch, Ricky Burns, Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan.

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Scotland’s Sensational Seven

Posted on 08/28/2018

By: Oliver McManus

Scotland has a proud history of fighters and I’m not just talking your modern day Ricky Burns, the last superfluous talent hailing from north of the border to hold a world title, but look back through the time-honoured history of boxing and you’ll see, again and again, the burning blood of a Scotsman – Benny Lynch, Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt, Alex Arthur, Jackie Patterson to name just a few – so who could be next to stoke the fires of such a fiercely patriotic nation?

Well the immediate choice that springs to mind, perhaps patently obvious to many, is Josh Taylor who, for a long time now, has had, not just Scotland, but much of the world set on notice as to his sublimely ridiculous boxing ability.

The Super Lightweight has a world title of his own firmly on the horizon with his participation in the 2018/19 World Boxing Super Series potentially resulting in three of the sport’s most prestigious rewards belonging to The Tartan Tornado come the end of 2019.

One of the purest talents in boxing at the moment, Taylor’s rise to the top of the 140lb division has been as quick as it was predictable and his ability to dictate the pace of bout from the centre of the ring, utilising the full area of the canvas, ensures that he always looks in full control – even against Viktor Postol when the Ukrainian rallied forward, Taylor was able to remain calm and collected.

And, talking of Viktor Postol, that fight seemed to be a potentially defining moment in the development of the 27 year old with the bout being a perfect display of timely match-making which, whilst far from the most complete performance, produced plenty of aggressive intent – Taylor kept his left foot on the outside of Postol’s lead leg, allowing him the freedom of movement not often allowed to southpaws and, indeed, a failure to do this from Terry Flanagan saw him embroiled in a firefight with Maurice Hooker earlier in the year.

Simple things but they don’t half make life easier when done well.

Looking towards Josh’s immediate future, specifically the WBSS, then you would say it is hard to see who, from the chosen eight competitors, has the capability of beating him. Regis Prograis is the one who would come closest but you’d still put good money on the 2014 Commonwealth gold medallist to do the job and, equally, to do it in style.

From the established contender to the emerging talent and I’m actually going to double up on this category with both Willy Hutchinson and Lee McGregor already looking like a couple of classy prospects with big futures ahead.

McGregor has had a torrid time out of the ring with three family deaths last year but, in spite of all that, the bantamweight is refusing to let his motivation waver with a renewed desire to fulfil his potential and make his family proud.

With Shane McGuigan in the corner it’s not hard to see where the 21 year old gets his grit and determination from with McGregor taking his, relatively, limited amateur experience and continually learning on the job but learn he does with each fight marking a clear progression in his ring maturity.

Against Goodluck Mrema in June we saw a calculated display against a vastly more experienced competitor as Lee immediately controlled the bout with a peppering left jab from his crouched stance before piecing together some well-thought-out three, four punch combinations to stop Mrema in the fourth round – a fourth stoppage from four fights – to claim the IBF Youth title.

Evidently still in the early phase of his career, you’d like to see him cut off the ring a bit more and press the tempo a bit more but that’s something that will come when he gets in the ring with a higher of calibre of opponent so it’s more of a nitpick than any major concern but, certainly, it’s all looking good for Lightning as he looks to make a flashing impact on the bantamweight scene.

If we then move up to the light-heavyweight division you’ll find Hutchinson campaigning under, Frank Warren’s, Queensbury Promotions banner with the Carstairs-resident possessing a five and 0 record just 10 months into his career.

Having started life in the paid ranks as part of the, ambitious, Hayemaker-Ringstar platform, the move to Warren coincides with a readiness to start challenging for titles of some sort or other and, like with many, his biggest learning fight came against the experienced Adam Jones.

Jones, 7-32-6 at the time, is one of the durable, awkward journeyman in and around the division and has caused issues for more than a handful of prospects – Dan Azeez, Andre Sterling, Charlie Schofield, Fred Evans, Paul Upton, the list goes on and on – but the, relative, threat of Jonesy was nullified pretty easily by Hutchinson who swept his way to a 40-37 decision win.

Freakishly lanky for a 175lb campaigner, Scotland’s most successful amateur boxer, has the requisite skill-set to enable him to box successfully at range as well up close and in the pocket but tends to start in a blistering fashion with an immediate flurry of punches being thrown in the direction of his opponent.

Strong punch variety, mixing up the shot selection and working the angles with a ramrod left jab followed by protruding shots to the head and body, Hutchinson has the firepower to finish off many an opponent and with many years ahead of him, he’s only going to get better.

Rising up the rankings across multiple weight divisions in the women’s game is, aptly named, Hannah Rankin who has already been making huge waves just seven fights into her professional career.

A former white collar boxer, Rankin made the transition into the professional game in May of last year and has had more than her fair share of issues when it comes to finding opponents – a shot at the Commonwealth title in April had to be cancelled due to visa issues but in the back half of 2018, Rankin’s stock has risen immeasurably.

Up against Saana Turunen, for the WBC Silver title, Rankin went 10 rounds for the first time in her career and did so with ease, picking off her Finish opponent comfortably and stamping her authority on the bout.

A world title shot followed a mere seven weeks later, again going up in weight, as she challenged Alicia Napoleon for the WBA Super Middleweight belt and – outrage about it not being shown on the Fox broadcast aside – despite losing the contest by a margin of six, eight and six rounds on the scorecards, Rankin put in one hell of a fight to emerge with a bolstered reputation.

Mentored by the great, Sweet D, Derek Williams and managed by Sam Kynoch, the professional bassoonist has invigorated a whole new demographic into the women’s boxing scene and with a comparatively small pool of fighters, the 28 year old has the class and pedigree to compete at the top for a long, long time.

Always producing fireworks, Rankin may very well be the spark that ignites a whole new generation of boxers to take risks, refuse to believe supposed limitations and just take the dive into the deep end.

It is curveball time because this next man isn’t Scottish but, well, rather a Congolese heavyweight based in Airdrie and coached by “Scotland’s most successful professional boxing gym” with Billy Nelson – so whilst Martin Bakole doesn’t strictly count, I wanted to include as much for how much Nelson rates him as anything else.

Those that have seen him spar Anthony Joshua repeatedly declare that Bakole is “a handful for any heavyweight” and Dave Alllen is one of those guys that think the IBO Inter-Continental champion has the attributes to go all the way to the top.

A fixture on Channel 5’s broadcasts, Bakole has hit his stride as of late with two successive first round knockouts – over Ali Baghouz and DL Jones, namely – and whilst a fair few are quick to denounce those wins as bums, nobodies, journeyman (Twitter is a wacky place), the manner in which Bakole has dispatched of the two was nothing short of destructive.

Indeed what’s more impressive is that he managed to beat Baghouz and Jones in a quicker fashion than two of the more hyped world heavyweight prospects in Daniel Dubois and Tony Yoka. Despite that, Bakole has a distinct lack of attention being shone his way which, in part, is down to his quiet and humble demeanour.

Heavy-handed from the opening bell, Bakole comes out firing punches with bad intentions, immediately settling into a rhythm and looking to detonate the, almost, rhythmic right hook of his with consummate ease.

Martin Bakole is next out on October 13th, in London, with his proposed opponent being a former world title challenger – a chance, presumably, for Bakole to test himself against somebody of note.

Back from that minor detour to a full-blooded Scot and, quite possibly, the most Scottish boxer there is in Gary Rae and the bantamweight has found his a delightful consistency with his trainer, Mark Breslin, who has overseen his progression from an amateur all the way back in 2010.

A relationship that Gary describes as “like father and son”, the 30 year old thinks their bond is something that separates him from his rivals –

“For me it’s so important, the continuity, I need that and Mark has looked after me ever since I started… I’ve got a really good bond with Mark, there’s a mutual trust and a genuine care for each other. Not many others have that relationship with their coach, other than when they train with their dad, but I trust him completely and, hopefully, it’ll stand me in good stead”.

At 5ft9, Rae has had to adapt to punching downwards in the 122lb division but likes to stick to the basics, keeping his distance, landing some nice body shots before jumping into the inside and landing a quick 1, 2, 3. It’s this pattern of his that he uses to keep the fight flowing and in his control before the time comes to crank up the pressure.
As good as he is in the ring, for Gary the key strengths lie outside of it, in his mentality and the people around him and it’s his slightly obsessive personality that gives him the edge –
“I always want to do the best job and I will always give 100%, blood, sweat and tears. If I don’t win I want to be able to say it was by the better man not because I didn’t give everything and I will never cut corners, I need to know I’ve given myself the best opportunity.”

Fighting on October 6th, in Paisley, against Scott Allan for the vacant Celtic Bantamweight title, the full-time painter is looking to get the title under his belt in order to fulfil his aspirations of turning fully professional by the end of next year; with a desire to move through the weights and a determination stronger than iron, Gary “Bueno” Rae is the one guy you’d put your money on to deliver the goods.

And as if to bring this whole article full circle, dare we even rule out Ricky Burns? 50 fights as a professional and still going strong, in a division where one or two good wins can earmark you for a world title shot, Burns is well placed to chase those legacy-defining marquee fights as he enters the final stage of his career.

Looking at the landscape of Scottish boxing, you’d be hard-pressed to say the future doesn’t bode well with experienced wise guys and blazing young challengers carving their own paths through the divisions – some are seeking one last shot at glory, some are building to an ever-lasting legacy whilst others, well others, are just doing it for the love of the sport but every fighter starting out, winding up, has the proud blood of Scotland running through their veins with the knowledge that, win or lose, they’re giving it their all and doing a nation proud.

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