Barry McGuigan eyes Ricky Burns clash for Josh Taylor

Promoter Barry McGuigan wants to see a Josh Taylor match-up with Ricky Burns if his protege wins on Friday.  Picture: Ian Georgeson
Promoter Barry McGuigan wants to see a Josh Taylor match-up with Ricky Burns if his protege wins on Friday. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Former WBA world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan believes pitching Josh Taylor against compatriot Ricky Burns would make it one of British boxing’s biggest bouts in over two decades.

The Cyclone promoter says the potential for a match-up of this kind hasn’t been seen since Chris Eubank fought fellow countryman Nigel Benn in the early nineties.

McGuigan and the rest of his team will arrive in Edinburgh tomorrow ahead of Taylor’s Commonwealth super-lightweight title showdown with Derby’s Dave Ryan at Meadowbank on Friday night.

However, the Irishman is already putting the feelers out for an all-Scottish contest should rising star Taylor come through his toughest test since signing professional terms with McGuigan last summer.

“I’m expecting very big things from Josh Taylor and it all begins this Friday night. I think he will beat Dave Ryan emphatically and look sensational against him and then we start beating the drums for a fight with Burns,” McGuigan said.

“When you see two exciting fighters like this you have to go back to the likes of when Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn fought each another – one guy was on the way up and the other hadn’t quite made it yet. That’s why I am trumpeting it up now so providing both guys keep on winning, I think this would be a huge fight that could happen within nine months to a year’s time.

“We’re taking a big chance this week against a guy who is a former Commonwealth champion and someone who has beaten the current British champion in Tyrone Nurse.

“Of course we’re taking a real risk here in what will only be Josh’s seventh professional fight and he is still to go beyond two rounds. He will get a few rounds this time though as this guy is too tough to go over early.”

McGuigan believes the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist has the beating of Coatbridge’s Burns, Scotland’s first three-weight world champion, if he continues to progress at the rate he has shown during his first year as a paid fighter.

And whilst complimenting 33-year-old Burns for all he has achieved in the sport, including his successful WBA world super-lightweight defence over Belarusian Kiryl Relikh last Friday, McGuigan doesn’t believe Burns is the boxer that so many used to fear.

“I don’t think anyone other than his close friends could say Ricky is the fighter that he used to be,” he said. “If Ricky goes on to fight [Adrien] Broner the way he fought Relikh last week then Broner will beat him. And then where does he go from there? Does he reset his sights and fight for a Commonwealth, British or European standard and is he happy to fight at that level?

“If you look at the chart for what is the most exciting fight-up, why would you look beyond a fellow countryman who is a three-weight world champion? That’s got to be the goal.

“Burns is a genuine opponent down the line for Josh for sure. We’re not trying to generate publicity or anything like that and I’m sure there are a lot of bigger names out there Ricky will want to fight, but we are deadly serious when we say it’s a fight that we would like within the next year.”

McGuigan continued: “We need to see how Josh performs on Friday first, he needs to do the business in the ring. But a Ricky Burns fight with Josh Taylor is our ultimate goal.

“We don’t want to create a Glasgow versus Edinburgh rivalry because I really think Taylor can be a national hero like Burns in his own right. I know there was the [Ken] Buchanan [Jim] Watt thing back in the 70s and early 80s but nevertheless I don’t want to get into creating any rivalry or animosity.”