When a young fresh-faced Josh Taylor first saw the slight figure of Ken Buchanan training quietly alone in a corner of the Lochend Amateur Boxing Club he didn’t actually know who the older man was.
When trainer and gym owner Terry McCormack explained to the teenager that the wiry little old man was in fact the best world champion Scotland has ever produced, the youngster was desperate to know more, and went home to Prestonpans armed with videos of Buchanan’s legendary title wins.
Over the years since that meeting Buchanan and Taylor have become firm friends and Buchanan has followed Taylor’s explosive progression through the ranks with the same sense of pride shared by everyone at Lochend.
And like them the 74-year-old master will be watching his acolyte tonight as he takes to the ring in London in a bid to match his achievements of nearly 50 years ago.
Taylor will take on American Regis Prograis at the O2 arena in a bid to become the world’s greatest lightweight in the World Boxing Super Series final.
“Taylor is going to win the fight, definitely,” Ken Buchanan told the Evening News.
“He’s a good lad, and a great boxer.”
Buchanan warned that this will be the fight of Taylor’s life.
“Prograis is not a bad lad, and the pair of them are both good fighters, it will be a very good fight to watch. Josh is going to have to look after himself,” Buchanan warned.
“But he’ll do it. Josh is going to win.”
Buchanan’s confidence is well-founded - Taylor is unbeaten in 15 fights, taking home the IBF world super lightweight title by defeating Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro in May.
He now has the chance to unify the division when he faces undefeated American WBA champion Regis Prograis, two years his senior.
The winner will also take home the prestigious Ring Magazine title as well as the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Josh Taylor world champion
Taylor, who as a young lad had dreams of being a world champion motorbike racer, got into boxing by chance.
His mother was working at Meadowbank while Alex Arthur trained there, and got to know him.
Taylor started going along to watcher Arthur train, and eventually the former super featherweight champion took him on.
Soon after, Taylor came under Terry McCormack’s wing at Lochend Boxing Club, where Ken Buchanan was still a frequent visitor.
McCormack has been Taylor’s mentor for more than a decade, and believes Taylor's talent and future as a sporting champion was obvious right from the very beginning.
“Josh was not long starting out but his punching power, even back then, was just incredible,” he told the Evening News.
“It just showed how special he was and he’s just got better and better.
“When Josh was down training at the gym, he’d go around writing on notepads ‘Josh Taylor world champion’ so it’s all he’s ever thought about.
McGuigan will once more be in Taylor's corner at the O2 alongside trainer Shane McGuigan and promotor Barry McGuigan, of Cyclone Promotions, which signed josh in 2015.
Alex Arthur, who will be commentating on the fight for DAZN, has also lent his support, writing on Twitter that he expects Taylor to bring home a ‘landslide points win’.
Lochend Boxing Club is fiercely behind Taylor, and many members have made the trip down to London to watch the fight, while those left behind will be gathered at the Tam O’ Shanter in Leith to cheer Taylor on.
Support from home
Boxing fans from Taylor’s hometown of Prestonpans in East Lothian and all over Edinburgh have travelled down to London by the busload, eager to see the 28-year-old Scot, with his own nickname of the ‘Tartan Tornado’, succeed.
His old school, Preston Lodge High School, wrote on Twitter: “Good luck to our very own Josh Taylor tomorrow. It’s fair to say everyone at Preston Lodge High School are proud of you and everything you have done. All the dedication and hard work will be worthwhile when you become unified champion of the world.”
Labour MSP for East Lothian Iain Gray said: “Josh is already a genuine sports star and this fight is another significant milestone in his flourishing career.
“I’m delighted to wish him the very best of luck for Saturday and look forward to the outcome.”
Labour MP for East Lothian Martin Whitfield also lent his support to Taylor.
He said: “As a resident of Prestonpans myself, I know how much excitement Josh’s fights generate in his hometown.
“Everyone across East Lothian will be willing him on to another victory and I certainly wish him every success in this title fight.”