Scot Josh Taylor snubs the bright lights ahead of Vegas bout

Edinburgh's Josh Taylor is set to take on Alfonso Olvera in Las Vegas. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Edinburgh's Josh Taylor is set to take on Alfonso Olvera in Las Vegas. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Despite a luxury panoramic view overlooking Las Vegas Boulevard from his MGM Grand hotel room, it would be wrong to assume boxer Josh Taylor is living life to its fullest.

Rather than being out and about sampling the glitz and glamour the famous Strip has to offer, Edinburgh’s Commonwealth super lightweight champion is instead lying flat out on his bed, tuning into late night television whilst 
consuming a healthy snack.

“There’s a mini-bar in the room but I’ve got it locked,” Taylor sheepishly explains. “Otherwise I’d end up just tanning the sweets so I’ve got myself a couple of protein bars instead.”

There’s a similar atmosphere just a few floors above Taylor where Cyclone Promotions stable-mate and two-weight world champion Carl Frampton is residing in his Skyloft apartment – hardly a scene that could be misinterpreted from that of the 2009 blockbuster movie, The Hangover.

The duo, however, could be forgiven for their low-key alternative to a rowdy night on the town given what’s at stake for both men tomorrow night.

Northern Ireland’s Frampton is making the first defence of his WBA world super featherweight title against Mexican Leo Santa Cruz, an opponent he defeated in New York six months ago. Taylor, meanwhile, is still brimming with confidence following 
October’s fifth-round 
stoppage win over former Commonwealth champion Dave Ryan.

There is, however, no belt this time around for the 26-year-old Scot should he prevail over Alfonso Olvera (8-2-1) of Mexico – instead another eight hard rounds in the tank for what promises to be 
another colossal year for one of Britain’s most promising fighters.

“It’s starting to feel real now that I’m about to fight on another huge undercard in Las Vegas. There’s been a lot of fans walking about the hotel the past few days in these Northern Ireland football tops and Frampton T-shirts,” said Taylor, who has won all of his previous seven professional bouts by knock-out since signing with one of the sport’s all-time greats, Barry McGuigan, 18 months ago.

“Every fighter dreams of fighting in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay but I don’t think it’s really hit me what I’m about to do. I’m fairly relaxed and I don’t think it will sink in until after the fight when I stop to think about it and say, ‘hold on a minute I’ve just fought in Vegas’.”

Taylor is able to keep his emotions in check despite being 
little more than 24 hours away from ticking another item off his bucket list. He recalls the pressure he felt to win gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a feat he achieved, as a good learning curve where he is now able to fend off the opinions of others with relative ease.

“The experience of the Commonwealth Games and, to an extent, the [2012] Olympics has really helped me learn to deal with these things,” he said.

“The whole country was expecting me to get the gold medal before the team had even been selected so it was something I had to get used to pretty quickly.

“I suppose I had some nerves against Dave Ryan in October with it being my first shot at a title and in my hometown but I was able to come through that with a really strong 
performance. I’ve definitely got a tough bout on my hands tomorrow. Olvera is a strong fighter.

“The two defeats he has had have been against unbeaten prospects so he’s got a bit about him. The footage I have seen of him, he definitely comes to fight and looks for the win. But I’m nice and relaxed .

“He’s a different style of fighter to Dave Ryan. He’s tall like me (5ft 11in), he tries to use his range and use his uppercuts. He stands and has a go so I’m going to have to be switched on if I am to get a result.

“I’m up to the task, I’ll watch him again on video tomorrow afternoon before 
heading to the arena. I’ve got my game-plan at the forefront of my mind so I’m confident I can get another win.”

As for Frampton, Taylor can’t see anything other than 
victory for his stable-mate, the pair having really bonded these last few weeks whilst sparring out in the state of Nevada.

“It’s been a great camp as we’ve went through everything together, trained twice 
daily and really bounced off one another,” said Taylor. “We’re both in great shape and on weight. Carl’s nice and relaxed, cool as a cucumber really.

“I think it probably will go the 12 rounds and will be another explosive fight but you may see a 
Frampton knock-out. We’ll just have to see.”

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