WHEN Middleton’s Liam Taylor (21-1, 10 KOs) outpointed Tyrone Nurse over 10 rounds last November, to line up a crack at the British welterweight title, the 28-year-old was delighted with the verdict yet angry that it was a split decision rather than a unanimous one.
“Dynamo” felt aggrieved and
let his feelings be known in the dressing room when someone said that it was a
close fight in the eyes of some, this writer included, and that there were some
close rounds. Wide-eyed, hyped up on adrenaline and, quite frankly, looking a
bit maniacal, Taylor came over to me and asked me for my verdict. I had scored
it a draw, 95-95, so admitted that, half-expecting to be put on blast, only for
Taylor to tell me that he respected my decision while disagreeing with it.
Looking back at the fight, it
was a clear and handy win for Taylor so it made me wonder if, and no matter how
hard we try, some bias, unconscious or otherwise, flavours how we score a
meeting between someone who is unheralded and a former British champion who has
been on Sky Sports and draws more water in the game.
“Of course, it plays a big part generally — it is just how it works out,” said Taylor when talking to Boxing News. “I thought I won it pretty handily so was lucky that [promoter] Steve Wood had put the money up to get home advantage. He went out of his way to do that. It could have swayed in another direction if it was in his back garden.”
“Things got said before the
fight,” he added. “He said in a few interviews that I wasn’t good enough so I’d
had enough and decided to prove him wrong on the night. Looking back, I still
don’t think that was the best of me. There is more to me than that performance.
“Before the fight, the nerves got to me a little bit. I didn’t think they were showing too much, but [trainer] Steve [Maylett] knows me as a fighter and said: ‘Look, you’ve worked
too hard for this — you are just as good as him so don’t question yourself’. I
probably did show the nerves in the first few rounds, didn’t settle until about
round three, and that is an experience that I will learn from. I will be
quicker in the earlier rounds for the British title.”
The win was doubly sweet
because it was a rematch. In their first fight, Nurse dropped Taylor with a
body shot in the fourth and ran out a points winner. This time, though, the
tables were turned and those 20 rounds with an experienced campaigner like
Nurse will prove invaluable.
That loss to Nurse was
followed by a win over Mark McKray, Taylor was dropped in that one too and
later found out that he had a ruptured tendon in his central right knuckle.
Hand surgeon Mike Hayton did the best work he could with it yet warned the
fighter that the injury meant that he might never box again.
“I had six-month’s
rehabilitation and almost two-years out in total so was wondering if it would
all work at the end of it,” admitted Taylor. “I do triathlons between fights. I
like to push myself in that way and never want to be a slob so I am always at
it. I don’t drink too much, a few times a year, so I kept busy and physically
“I worked hard to get it right
— in the end it was fine. It was a while before I could punch, I just pushed my
way through it and thought if I couldn’t box again I’d continue to push myself
with more triathlons. Then boxing came around again so I decided to stick to
what I know, getting punched in the face.”
The rest allowed him time to
think about his career. Changes were made when he got the go-ahead to return,
long-time trainer Darren McCarrick was replaced with Maylett, whose analytical
approach to training is a big factor in Taylor’s recent run of form.
“I got injured after McKray so
had time to think about where I wanted my career to go. It was the best part of
two-years, I decided to make a change and it was a smart decision. I feel like
I’ve got a lot of momentum since joining Steve. I feel it in the gym in every
camp. The times are improving,” he said.
“Steve is really particular
about things. Every detail is covered. Even last time [a six-round decision win
over Edvinas Puplauskas], I probably didn’t listen properly in the sense of
finishing some things right so we spoke about it after and agreed that when I
raise up to the [Chris] Jenkins fight I will be more switched on and show more
of the defensive side of things. It is all down to Steve, definitely.”
There had been hopes of meeting
Jenkins in May. It now looks likely that it will take place later this year.
Taylor believes their meeting will be a classic British title fight. “Jenkins
is a very good fighter, don’t get me wrong, but I think I’ve got the beating of
him in a high-energy fight that will be good to watch and a treat for the
fans,” he predicted.
In the meantime, you would be
forgiven for thinking that Taylor might enjoy a few weekends of socialising to
keep himself loose before the big one. When we spoke he had just come back from
Spain and was about to go on another, completely different, weekend break.
“I’m going on a yoga, vegan
retreat — kind of a detox break,” he said when asked what his plans were. “It
is my girlfriend’s idea. I do a bit of Yoga anyway so she asked if I fancied
this detox retreat. I thought why not. She became vegan a few years ago after
watching a programme on TV. I didn’t think she’d do it because she likes
steaks, chocolates and all that. She stayed with it and has been at it for
“I’m a vegan between training
camps myself. When I’m in camp, Steve sets out my diet and it has to include
meat. I decided to get into it to make things easier in the kitchen. I enjoy
it. It’s quite a good way to live. It is hard, but it has got better as people
are really into it now. We were in Marbella and it is really big over there.
You can get everything you need. There are lot of substitutes for people with a
sweet tooth. They do substitute meat burgers now that taste like beef burgers
but are plant-based. It is mad.”
Still, switching from a pure
vegan diet to the more traditional boxing one must take its toll in the early
days of a training camp. “Yeah, I feel it for the first week,” he said.
“I did try to stay vegan in
camp yet my times were impacted on the track and that. We saw it was hitting my
performance levels so we decided to switch back to meat when I’m in camp for a
fight. I’ll start off vegan, then after a few weeks if I start to feel tired
Steve will tell me it is time to get back on my fighting diet. It aids me in a
way in the end and it works well.
“I am vegan for health reasons
more than anything else. When you read up on what is really in meat it is mad,
and scary. After boxing, I’m definitely going full vegan. I’m not going to go
around telling everyone I’m vegan all the time, though, because some of them
are mad, aren’t they?”
Yep, some vegans have the
fanaticism of people who been born again — be it into religion, training or
anything else — and try to force their views on other people or take
their level of commitment to the extreme. Although he is prepared to enjoy
weekend retreats with these types of people, Taylor is not a full-on militant
“I class myself as someone who
eats a plant-based diet. Some of them take it too far. Animal materials being
in lots of things is part and parcel of us being at the top of the food chain.
You need to farm the animal population to get meat on the shelves. I stick to
organic stuff in camp because the cheap meat can be really bad for you. I could
go on about this all day, but everyone has their own preferences,” he said.
Ultimately, it is working for
Taylor and he hopes that when the time comes he can become the Apex Predator of
the domestic 147lbs division.