Interview: Josh Taylor on big fight call-off, life in Las Vegas and the rush for guns in Walmart

Disappointed world champion to fly home after title defence is postponed
Josh Taylor has cut short his training camp to fly home due to coronavirus. Picture: Bill Murray/SNSJosh Taylor has cut short his training camp to fly home due to coronavirus. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Josh Taylor has cut short his training camp to fly home due to coronavirus. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

World super lightweight champion Josh Taylor insists he won’t let all the good work go to waste as he prepares to cut short his training camp in Las Vegas and return home.

The 29-year-old’s mandatory defence of his IBF and WBA titles against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong, scheduled for Saturday 2 May at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, was postponed on Tuesday due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Promoter Frank Warren, pictured below, issued a statement confirming the headline bout and the undercard, which included reigning British and Commonwealth bantamweight champion Lee McGregor, and was to be broadcast live on BT Sport, has joined the hundreds of sporting events that have been suspended because of the pandemic.

The Grand National, Euro 2020, and the Masters at Augusta are an example of the more high-profile events that will not run this year, the latter’s first postponement since World War II which prevented the tournament from going ahead in 1943, 1944 and 1945.

However, in a bid to combat a virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 8,000 across the world, governments, including the UK’s, have been forced into drastic measures.

Taylor, nicknamed the Tartan Tornado, will now spend his final few days in the state of Nevada with a less intense training schedule than expected before boarding a plane back to the UK with trainer Ben Davison this weekend. Or at least he hopes to, given the impact the outbreak has had on the airline industry.

“I’m obviously really disappointed the fight is off but that’s the way it goes,” Taylor told The Scotsman from the Las Vegas apartment where he’s been living for the past week. “It’s completely outwith my control so it’s something you’ve just got to accept. Everything happens for a reason so it may work out for the better when I fight him at a later date.

“We’ve never experienced this kind of situation before so we’ve just got to sit tight and follow the guidelines.

“I’d been sitting watching all the boxing shows scheduled for the next month or two being postponed so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when the call finally came through to tell me it was off.

“But I’ve spent a lot of money on this training camp coming out to Vegas, having physios, masseuses, a chef to keep on top of what we’re eating 
nutrition-wise so it’s really frustrating.

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“I’ve been in camp for quite a few weeks now and although there is no alternative date yet, I would hope the fight could maybe be rescheduled for July or something like that.

“I’ll keep going, though. After my last fight in October 
[Taylor defeated Regis Prograis in the World Boxing Super Series final in London], I found it really difficult to get myself back into that fitness bubble again.

“It takes so much to get over that first hurdle after you’ve spent so much time off so I need to keep on top of things and keep ticking over. I’ll keep training in the gym and hopefully it’s not too long before I’m back in the ring.”

Taylor, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games champion, is confident he won’t have to perform a U-turn when he arrives at McCarran International Airport in a couple of days’ time. It is his intention to return to his East Lothian home for a couple of weeks to spend time with girlfriend Danielle before travelling down to Manchester to hook up again with Davison.

“The plan is to come home this weekend but I’ll just need to see what happens over the next few days,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to get a flight home so I’m not anticipating any problems on that front. There are definitely flights still landing and taking off at the moment. It wouldn’t be ideal to be in stuck in Vegas for the foreseeable future, put it that way!

“But, in saying that, there are so many things that have had to close so there’s not been a lot to do anyway. Every time we’ve gone down to the strip it’s been pretty quiet. I’ve been to Las Vegas a couple of times now and have been right in the thick of it so it’s a really eerie place to be at the moment.

“I know there has been all the outcry about bulk buying of toilet roll back home but we were at a Walmart earlier this week and the number of people buying guns was unbelievable. It was just crazy to see.

“I was enjoying the camp and things were going well ahead of the fight. We were scheduled to be out here for a month before flying back to the UK for our final preparations but I’ll just have to pick things back up again when I’m home.”



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