Former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan has told Edinburgh’s Josh Taylor he will only get a crack at Scotland’s first-ever three-weight world champion Ricky Burns if he continues to blow the opposition out of the ring.
The Commonwealth super lightweight champion boasts an unblemished record [8-0] as a professional since making his debut in El Paso, Texas, with a second-round stoppage of Liberian Archie Weah in July 2015 – Taylor subsequently going on to stop his next five opponents inside the first two rounds.
It took the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist until the fifth round to conquer former champion Dave Ryan, landing him the Commowealth belt in October, a title he is preparing to defend against South African champion Warren Joubert at Meadowbank tonight.
His other victory came against Mexican Alfonso Olvera at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in January as Cyclone Promotions stablemate Carl Frampton relinquished his WBA world super featherweight title to Leo Santa Cruz.
However, the wheels have been in motion for a number of weeks now over the possibility of an all-Scottish showdown between 26-year-old Taylor and the vastly experienced Burns, who has his world title unification bout with Namibia’s Julius Indongo at the SSE Hydro in just over three weeks’ time.
McGuigan believes Burns, 33, has been very coy when the feelers have been put out over the prospect of going head to head with Britain’s most promising fighter.
“There are interesting fights out there. There’s Anthony Yigit, who beat Lenny Daws to win the European title a short time ago, but Josh has sparred with him so knows he can win the EBU title,” McGuigan explained. “So, we could go for that one but we are conscious of Burns v Indongo. Burns is the elephant in the room here as he has been muted on the subject of fighting Josh so we need to keep blasting opponents out so he has to take notice.
“We have got real reverence for Ricky. A real respect. We’ve seen a lot of nonsense recently before fights but you won’t get any of that here.
“You can still have a great fight and a great spectacle and still have respect. We’ve got that for Burns. He’s a phenomenal fighter, one of the Scottish greats. Burns is the epitome of a fighter who made the most of his ability, more than any fighter I know. His determination, desire and work ethic have been incredible and what he has achieved is incredible.
“But I genuinely believe Josh is the better boxer. He has more tools. It’s not made up with just ability, though. It’s about resilience and the will to win, to risk going to the limit.
“Burns has shown us that is what gets him through tough fights.We have to prove it though by continuing to win because Burns has already proved it.”
McGuigan revealed Taylor was scathing of his own performance in his last outing against Olvera eight weeks ago when he was taken ten rounds for the first time in his career before being awarded a unanimous points win across in the States. However, McGuigan says Taylor strives for perfection every time he steps into a boxing ring – that includes sparring sessions.
“Josh was disappointed, but I wasn’t,” the Irishman said. “It was his first big run-out on Showtime TV but he’s already known in the States. They are excited about him, they love the way he fights and his back story.
“But let’s see how he does tonight and then go from there. We know how good he is, you see him in sparring. It costs me a fortune to get him sparring partners.
“We have middleweights and light middleweights, but sometimes they don’t come back.
“When we were down in London I walked into the gym and there were 40 people there. I wondered what it was all about and they said they were there to see Josh sparring. It was incredible. They just thought ‘wow, this guy is amazing’.”
McGuigan continued: “It’s a mark of how good he is and how much he strives to get better. He sickens me at times, as he’ll say, ‘I’m not happy with this or that’. I tell him he’s doing well but he is just striving for perfection.
“He’s getting better and better and is a world champion in the making.
“There’s a gap between domestic and world class and that’s why we want to test him. Joubert is durable and will take him into the second half of the fight.
“But Josh can go 12 rounds in the gym with a middleweight – who wants out after eight – so there’s no problems.”