Josh Taylor dropped a bombshell when he revealed he’d never heard of opponent Ryan Martin prior to being drawn against the American in the World Boxing Super Series quarter-finals.
The duo will go glove to glove at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on Saturday 3 November as they begin their quest for the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy, not to mention the two world titles that are at stake.
Edinburgh puncher Taylor, 27, who has an unblemished professional record of 13 victories, is on the cusp of becoming Scotland’s next world champion and a profile that is about to go through the roof.
However, Tennessee fighter Martin has made his own mark in the ring having amassed 22 consecutive wins across the Atlantic.
Next month’s contest will be the first time the 25-year-old has fought outwith his homeland and Taylor is determined to make it an adventure he will want to quickly forget.
“Martin is a bit of a dark horse because he is a bit of an unknown,” Taylor admitted at yesterday’s official press conference. “I’d never heard of him before this tournament. I’ve watched a bit of him now and he is a good fighter. He’s 22-0 with 12 knockouts, so that suggests he isn’t that hard a puncher. It will be a tough fight but I’m fully confident I am going to win it.
“I don’t feel any pressure going into this fight. I felt more pressure for the last one [against Viktor Postol in June] because there was a world title on the back of it. I knew if I won I would be getting a shot at Jose Ramirez, so I put a lot of pressure on myself the last time. Obviously we’ve chosen to go down the WBSS route for the moment but there’s still a huge amount at stake.”
Taylor has now set up home in South London having moved into a flat that is in walking distance of trainer Shane McGuigan’s gym. Having shared a hotel room with new Commonwealth bantamweight champion and stablemate Lee McGregor over the summer, Taylor says it is nice to finally have his own space.
“I was a bit frustrated during the Postol camp,” he explained. “For 14 weeks I was living in a hotel about 40 minutes away by train from the gym. I was also sharing a room with Lee, which I wasn’t bothered about as I love spending time with him, but you’re a man at the end of the day and you need your own space.
“If you want to phone your girlfriend or the family it can sometimes be difficult. A lot of the time you just want to be on your own after a hard day’s training.
“I wasn’t getting back to the hotel until 11pm and you couldn’t get anything to eat. I suppose that and also the pressure of the fight I had coming up made it that bit more frustrating.
“But now I’m just over a mile from the gym so I can cycle down – it takes me ten minutes so I can go back to my flat in between sessions.”
Having been awarded boxer of the year by the British Boxing Board of Control earlier this month, Taylor is eager to show in just under three weeks’ time why he is rated so highly.
“It was really good to win that award,” he said. “It was good to know people in the boxing world had taken notice of my last few fights. There were some big names in the running so it was a big honour. I felt I was deserving of it but us Scots never win anything so it was a nice surprise.”