Legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach has politely declined an invitation to join the Josh Taylor fan club. That’s not to say he doesn’t rate the Edinburgh fighter and current WBC Silver champion. The American just believes the 28-year-old has too many chinks in his armour that will result in undefeated Ivan Baranchyk retaining his IBF world super lightweight title at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro tomorrow night.
After parting company with former coach Pedro Diaz little more than seven weeks ago, Belarusian Baranchyk, who resides in the US, sent out an SOS to the world-renowned Roach to take him under his wing in his bid to secure a spot in the final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) this weekend.
Roach, now 59, who was instrumental in steering Filipino Manny Pacquiao – Taylor’s idol – to numerous world titles across eight weight divisions, accepted the Eastern European’s offer and has arrived in Scotland fully expecting his man to inflict the first defeat of Taylor’s professional career. He also expects him to win over the Scottish fans.
“I think Josh has habits that he falls into all the time. You make a move, he makes the same kind of move back there every time and if we can open him up, I think he’s vulnerable to my guy,” Roach said. “I don’t think he’s one of the best yet. He does the same thing over and over when he’s counter punching and so forth. He has a lot of bad habits we can take advantage of, I feel, and we’ll show you tomorrow night.
“It’s going to be a very exciting fight and when the crowd’s on our side, what happens then? They can’t get in the ring and help him. I think the crowd’s going to be on our side by the end of the night. Scotland has great fans and they appreciate great boxing. I think I have the better fighter on the inside and they’ll be on our side by the end of the night. The Scottish fans will appreciate Ivan’s style. He’s a very game fighter, he likes to bang and I know the Scottish people love people who love to fight, and he loves to fight.”
It’s not the first time Roach has set foot on these shores. He was in Steve Collins’ corner when the Irishman retained his WBO world super middleweight title against Craig Cummings at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall in July 1997. However, he is excited to see what the Hydro serves up tomorrow night.
“This building [the Hydro] right over from my hotel is enormous,” Roach said. “It looks a really nice stadium and looks like a really nice place to fight in and be enjoyed by a lot of people, I hope. I’ve had haggis in the past, the last time I was here with Steve Collins, but it’s not my favourite dish. It’s edible...
“Since I arrived I’ve had a walk around the streets. Everybody asks ‘Freddie Roach what are you doing here?’ How come they don’t know there’s a fight? Come on, give me a break! But they’re very nice. They just want a picture so there’s no harm in it.”
Baranchyk, meanwhile, remains unfazed by the challenge that awaits him in Glasgow. He believes he holds the aces that will help him go on to contest the WBSS final for boxing’s most sought-after prize, the Muhammad Ali Trophy, against American Regis Prograis, also undefeated, later this year.
“I am very confident of winning,” said Baranchyk. “I am going to beat Taylor by beating him again and again and then beating him some more. I know that Taylor is a talented fighter and that the fight is in his backyard, but I am looking forward to putting on a spectacular performance and defending my title.”