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Talking Boxing

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It's all part of the plan

Josh Taylor
Image credit: Mirror.co.uk

SHAUN BROWN

As you might expect, Josh Taylor is refusing to look past Dave Ryan ahead of their vacant Commonwealth super lightweight title fight this Friday night at Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh.

And the 25-year-old Scot has plenty of reasons not to.

Ryan, 33, is no stranger to the multi-coloured strap having contested the championship in his last three fights. Beating Tyrone Nurse and John Wayne Hibbert, before losing a rematch to the latter in his last outing 13 months ago.

“I’ve watched him against John Wayne Hibbert, watched him against Tyrone Nurse and watched him in a few other fights as well,” Taylor told Talking Boxing.

“He’s definitely tough, but there’s a lot of elements in his game that I can see, I can expose and pick out in the fight. I feel that will favour me in the fight.”

To date, Taylor, who is trained by Shane McGuigan, has had six fights since making his professional bow in Texas last year on the undercard of Cyclone Promotions’ stablemate Carl Frampton’s IBF super bantamweight title defence against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.

Archie Weah was in the opposite corner to Taylor that night, and like the five opponents that followed none have managed to take ‘The Tartan Tornado’ past the second round.

Dave ‘Rocky’ Ryan has been involved in three 12-round contests, going the distance once against Nurse two years ago.

The stats alone tell you that this is a significant step-up for Taylor, a former Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist. Spending some viewing time watching Ryan emphasises the point even more. ‘Rocky’ Ryan is a long way from Adam Mate, Lyes Chaibi and Evincii Dixon.

“Of course it’s a step up, it’s a huge step up for me,” Taylor said.

“Fighting for my first title, the Commonwealth title in only my seventh pro fight. It’s a big step up for me. Dave Ryan is no mug. Dave Ryan is a tough opponent, he’s very experienced, he’s very tough. He’s a good fighter. He’s no walkover job, and I’m certainly not overlooking him or looking past him. I’ve only got one thing on my mind and that’s winning this title. At the same time, it’s all part of a plan of hopefully one step closer to where I want to go.”

That plan could lead to the British title, the European title, even world titles at 140lbs and possibly even 147lbs. Barry McGuigan, who advises and manages Carl Frampton, has been championing Taylor ever since he signed him for Cyclone Promotions in 2015. The former WBA world featherweight champion was making similar noises about ‘The Jackal’ years ago. Telling all who would listen that Frampton would go all the way, how right he was proven.

Frampton was facing the capable and experienced Andriy Voronin in his seventh professional fight, and what was his first eight rounder. Taylor is jumping further into the deep end with the armbands off. Ask the Scot if there is a fear factor for him going into this fight and it's a point he dismisses.

“A fear factor? No. What have I got to be scared of?” Taylor replied.

“I’ve got nothing to lose, I’ve only got everything to gain. I’m not scared at all. I’m really confident and 100% confident of winning the fight, and nothing’s going to change up until the fight. Obviously I’m going to feel the nerves and the butterflies. But no, not scared at all.

“The better the opponent, the better I’m going to be. I’m going to feel the nerves, but I’ll make the nerves work for me because I’ll be sharper. So the better the opponent, the better I will be. I really believe that.”

Nerves may come from Taylor fighting in front of what will be a passionate, raucous, bear pit of an atmosphere which may produce echoes from the past, when fellow Edinburgh native Alex Arthur fought in the same venue against Michael Gomez in 2003. An iconic British fight which is still talked about to this day.

That night, Arthur and Gomez produced a spine-tingling, hairs on neck five round war that isn’t just on YouTube, but is regularly repeated on Sky Sports. Arthur played into Gomez’s hands that night. A similar battle between Taylor and Ryan would play into the Englishman’s hands, but the Scotsman is ready to do so if needed.

“I think if he wants to come and fight I can out-fight him. If I choose to stay and fight with him, or if I choose to box him, I believe I can out-fight him. I can definitely out-box him as well. And when the pace gets going I’ve got a great engine as well. I can out-tough him as well. I believe I’ve got the full package to beat him. I’ve got absolutely no doubts in my mind that he can beat me in any department.

“The team around me, Jake [McGuigan] and Barry saw an opportunity here. It was obviously [a] vacant [title] so they went for it and I don’t think they would put me in a fight like this, of this magnitude, if they didn’t think I could pull it off and come through it. They obviously believe in me, and I believe in myself as well. It’s a great opportunity for me, and I think it’s at the perfect time for me.”