THE pressure is off. The wait is over. Four long years after just failing to win a gold medal in Delhi, Josh Taylor is Commonwealth champion.
It will not be long, though, before the pressure is back on the light-welterweight. After a quick break, he will be back home, faced with the biggest question of his boxing life – whether and when to turn professional.
Still, having dealt successfully with the strain of thwarted ambition since 2010, Taylor is a fair bet to find the right answer. The light-welterweight was so desperate to win gold in Glasgow that you had to worry about the effect on his morale if he fell short. Fortunately, though, there was no need to worry, as he beat Namibia’s Junias Jonas by a unanimous decision on Saturday.
“It’s a huge relief,” the Prestonpans boxer said yesterday. “I’m not surprised that I got the gold, because I always believed in my own ability to compete at the top level. But it’s a huge weight off my shoulders because there was a lot of expectation from the media and Team Scotland before I was even selected for the Games. So it’s good to come away with the goods.”
Now he has done that, Taylor has to decide when it would be best to turn professional. At 23, he is sure he still has time on his side – time, perhaps, to compete in another Olympic Games after the disappointment of winning just one fight in London two years ago.
“I’ve not really thought about it much, to be honest, but Rio could be a realistic goal. I felt I underperformed in London, so I’m confident I can win a medal over there if I box as well as I did the past week.
“Obviously turning pro is an option. I’m going to sit for the next couple of weeks and think about all my options. And have a nice rest and get a couple of pizzas and a Chinese.
“There is money to be made, but there are so many things that can go wrong in the pro game as well. I need to think about getting managed right and stuff like that, but I’ve got a good set-up in the GB programme – I’m Lottery funded and have all my physio taken care of, and I’m going all over the world and fighting the best in the world. So I’m loving that just now.
“I’ll be 25 in Rio – there’s definitely time. Carl Froch was 25 when he turned professional, and look at the career he’s had. It’s definitely possible. I believe I’m going to be a world champion anyway. I don’t know when I’m going to do it, but I believe I will.”
Before making his decision, Taylor will seek advice from one of his predecessors as Commonwealth champion, Alex Arthur. “I’ve known Alex since I started boxing, but over the last six months he’s been really helpful in terms of support,” he said. “He’s been bigging me up on TV and radio, so that was a bit of pressure as well.
“It’s good to come away with the gold and follow in his footsteps. He was one of my idols. I’ll take his advice as well and he says I shouldn’t rush into things. So I’ll take my time and get as much experience in the amateur game as I can.
“Winning Commonwealth gold opened doors for his career, so it’s quite tricky. If I decide to go pro, this would be a good time, because I’ve got the publicity and the fans behind me just now.
“Wee Ricky Burns has lost his title now. I think Scotland needs a couple of new heroes. But I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to chill out for a couple of weeks.”