The tension finally reached breaking point yesterday as Josh Taylor and arch-rival Ohara Davies had to be separated after their highly- anticipated super lightweight match-up threatened to explode into life 24 hours early.
The duo will enter the ring at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena tonight as both boxers put their undefeated records on the line.
Taylor, Edinburgh’s Commonwealth belt holder, has been hailed Scotland’s next world champion by promoter and former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, the Irishman brimming with confidence that his fighter will register his tenth consecutive victory as a professional.
Meanwhile, Londoner Davies’ record of 15 wins merely strengthens his position as another who is destined to move on to bigger and better things – irrespective of the result in Glasgow this evening.
Round 1 got underway slightly earlier than expected, though, where after some more goading from the respective camps at yesterday’s official weigh-in, Englishman Davies stuck his head in the direction of the Scot whose reaction was just as feisty.
“He was trying to hurry me up and when we came to do the face-to-face shot he said, ‘are you going to run tomorrow?’ 26-year-old Taylor explained. “I just told him I am going to take that [Davies’ chin] out. He then said ‘don’t touch me again’ but I did and that’s when he tried to put the head on me.
“I grabbed him by the throat and thought I was going to strangle him. But what his actions showed me is that he’s falling apart, maybe through nerves.
“That gives me confidence and I have never been so relaxed for a fight. He’s never been involved in a situation like this where it isn’t all in his favour. He’s always been the better boxer, the strongest and had the more power. But he knows that isn’t the case this time around.”
Taylor isn’t usually one to bite when faced with such confrontation. However, given the torrent of abuse exchanged between the two men during this week’s pre-fight build-up, something eventually had to give.
Davies, 25, is renowned for being one of the sport’s biggest trash-talkers and was even jeered in his hometown despite stopping Derry Matthews in the third round at the O2 Arena in March.
“It’s him who has been doing all the bad-mouthing,” Taylor stressed. “He’s been trying to wind me up. I’m nice and calm and so confident as I’ve trained so hard and I’m in great shape so I don’t need to talk.
“He’s either getting edgy or trying to have a laugh. But he’s a clown anyway. I just need to stay relaxed and focused.
“He’s going to look silly because I’m in serious shape and have been sparring really well. He’s got to back his words up or he’ll be eating them.
“This fight is exactly the same as any other. Every fight is important as I am always wanting to win. If I win it puts me in the top-15 in the world in the WBC [rankings] and I’m knocking on the door for big fights and potentially a mandatory position for [Terence] Crawford and [Julius] Indongo down the line.”