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JOSH TAYLOR is not going to try too hard. He enters the World Boxing Super Series on Saturday (November 3). In Scotland, his home country, at the SSE Hydro. He’s fighting American Ryan Martin in a 12 round quarter-final. Victory will see him challenge new IBF super-lightweight champion Ivan Baranchyk in the next stage. But Taylor is adamant that he must relax.
“I do believe I can win this tournament. I do believe I’m going to win this fight against Martin. I feel very confident and very relaxed in camp this time, whereas last time I was very uptight and trying to win every second of every spar and saying I need to do this, I need to do that. Whereas this time the pressure’s off. It’s a big fight but the pressure’s off,” Taylor told Boxing News. “I’ve got the world title fight next but I’m there now. Whatever way the fight goes, I know I’m at world title level.
“I feel like I’m going to put on a good performance here.”
All the pressure was on him last time out, when he fought Viktor Postol in June. He had to win that to either book a world title shot against Jose Ramirez or take this place in the World Boxing Super Series.
“It was a huge fight [against Postol],” he said. “I was really proud… I can’t think if there have been many other fighters in Britain with only 13 fights to have fought an opponent of that calibre. I’m inexperienced as a pro. I’ve only been pro three and a half years, fighting guys of that calibre and coming away with a good win on an off night. Only positives so I was really proud of myself.”
He is convinced that his mindset now will stand him in good stead for this fight against Martin. “I’m much sharper, more relaxed, concentrating, not switching off and staying focused for the full time I’m in the ring. That’s been the main difference. I’ve learned a lot,” he said.
Taylor proved something against Postol too. “I had to find something definitely. He caught me with a good shot and it was right on the chin as well, caught me right on the chin but I didn’t feel panicked at all. I didn’t feel flustered. Ride it out. I knew not to fight back while he’s caught me like that. I held on and recuperated straight away. It was a sign of my fitness,” he said. “Got back on the horse and readjusted.
“I could have paid the price for it but luckily I never. I definitely had to dig in a wee bit. It wasn’t so much digging deep because it wasn’t that physically hard of a fight. It was just I had to change the way I was fighting because what I was doing, what I was trying to do wasn’t working. What I wanted to do wasn’t working and I couldn’t get [my shots] off because I was trying too hard. I wasn’t relaxed and was switching off. So I had to change my mental state of things and I had to change my approach in the fight and the way I was attacking him.”
He did it all under pressure and can rightly consider himself to be one of the best fighters in his division. In the long run WBC champion Jose Ramirez, who is not in the Super Series, will be an appealing fight. “I think that will be a great fight, a great, entertaining, all-action fight that one. But I feel very confident in beating him as well,” Taylor said.
The World Boxing Super Series however was the right choice for him. “A fight like this and the payday that I’m getting for this fight alone, especially if I get the win bonus and things like that. That’s more than I ever thought I was going to earn when I first turned pro. That was obviously an incentive as well. But it’s not just that. I’m not money motivated, I’m not a money-motivated person. I want to win world titles. I’ve got the chance of winning two belts in three fights,” he said. “And then you’re right up there and [it’s] my dream of unifying the division and becoming undisputed champion is that bit closer again. It was a no brainer. Three massive fights, three good paydays and two belts. It was a no brainer.”
“In Scotland,” he added, “what better way to start off and give my home fans another world class fight and a big event to come and look forward to. Hopefully it’s starting something and the big nights keep coming in Scotland.”