Golden memories for Josh Taylor but he’s planning to make plenty more
The 27-year-old will make his return to the Glasgow-based venue in just over six weeks’ time – this time as a professional – chasing the 12th win of his career. He will go up against Mexico’s former three-weight world champion, Humberto Soto.
Lightweight Charlie Flynn, who will line up on the bill on Saturday 3 March, also triumphed in his pursuit of gold in 2014 and Taylor is excited by the prospect of boxing at an arena that holds such fond memories.
“It was such a great night. A lot has happened since then but the Games still feel like yesterday,” Taylor recalled. “It will be difficult to beat that experience of winning gold in Glasgow and singing Flower of Scotland in front of my country. It will be hard to beat but that’s the aim.
“After the fight when I won gold I remember doing all the doping tests and stuff then going back to the house at the village to celebrate. We got some pizza with the lads and we were singing. It was a real carry on.
“The next day Charlie and I had to do all the press stuff and then we went to the bar in the village.
“Caledonia was playing and I was up playing the drums. I think I only had two or three beers but I was steaming drunk! It was a great experience. It’s going to be brilliant going back to the Hydro and headlining. Hopefully it’s the sign of things to come. It would be great to be back there later in the year winning or defending a world title. It’s been a massive step going from fighting at the likes of Meadowbank to the Hydro in a year, but I know I’ve got a long way to go before filling it.
“I’m going in the right direction though. This will be my first time back since the Commonwealth Games and it will be special walking into the changing rooms. It will bring the memories flooding back.”
Taylor, though, is mindful of what 37-year-old Soto has achieved in a career spanning 21 years. Indeed, Taylor was only six years old when his opponent – a former WBC super featherweight, featherweight and lightweight world champion – made his professional debut in his hometown Los Mochis in September 1997.
The Edinburgh fighter, however, can take a surge of confidence from his previous triumph, when he stopped Soto’s compatriot Miguel Vazquez in the ninth round at the Royal Highland Centre in November. Vazquez, another former world lightweight champion, had never been stopped in 44 contests.
“The only guy to stop Soto is Lucas Matthysse and he’s a monster, really heavy handed,” Taylor explained. “But I’m preparing for a really hard 12 rounds so it could definitely go the distance this one. He has experience in abundance so I am going to have to be completely focused.
“He’s a different fighter to Vazquez. I had to go looking for him and made a few mistakes in doing so. He was awkward and hit me with some silly shots like that mad uppercut that was hard to read. He [Soto] is the more complete fighter so it’s going to be tough that’s for sure. But everyone said Vazquez would go the distance but I got him out so if I can do the same it would be another massive statement. It would show I mean business this year.
“There’s a lot on my shoulders but I don’t feel the pressure. I just brush it off and focus on myself. I’m just enjoying the ride. I believe in my ability and people might say I’m going to be world champion, but that wouldn’t surprise me because that’s what I expect of myself. And that’s not being big-headed, I’m confident in my ability.”