Modest Josh Taylor blinks in the media spotlight
The 26-year-old makes his first defence of his Commonwealth title against South Africa’s Warren Joubert at Meadowbank tomorrow, chasing his ninth consecutive win since turning pro in 2015.
He won his first belt in October with a fifth-round stoppage of Derby’s former champion Dave Ryan.
Taylor, who is guided by former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, has already fought and won in America on three separate occasions. He was afforded huge exposure on his last visit to the States in January when his duel with Mexican Alfonso Olvera at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was broadcast live on Sky Sports as well as US satellite network Showtime.
Ahead of tomorrow night’s contest with Joubert which will be broadcast exclusively live on Spike TV, Taylor said: “I get far more nervous doing stuff with the media than I do when I step into the ring. I suppose I’m feeling a bit more relaxed than when I first started but, if it was up to me, I’d rather not do any of it and just concentrate on the boxing. But it comes with the territory and you need to let people know how you feel and get people behind you.
“When you have young kids come up to you and say ‘oh I want to be a Commonwealth Games gold medallist [a feat Taylor achieved at Glasgow 2014] and want their photo taken with you then it’s great. It’s keeping kids off the street and hopefully into boxing. I just tell them that if they keep dedicating themselves then they can do it.”
As Taylor’s stock continues to rise, his opponent, a three-times South African champion, is boxing for the first time outwith his native country.
The 35-year-old has 26 wins from 35 contests, including 11 knockouts in a professional career spanning 13 years.
Nevertheless, Taylor believes he has enough in his armoury to retain his Commonwealth title.
“I’m very confident from what I’ve seen,” he said.
“He [Joubert] is very similar to Dave Ryan in terms of style which suits me down to the ground.
“I’m hurting middleweights and welterweights with the punches I’ve been throwing in sparring so I’m feeling good.
“I’m punching a lot harder now as I’ve been doing a lot of strength work and putting my body weight into the punch whereas in the amateurs you’re just getting them out as fast as possible.
“Being so close to Carl [Frampton] and being in the same camp, it’s so close to home and if he can do it then why can’t I? If I dedicate myself to the sport the way he’s done so there’s no reason I can’t keep improving and climbing up the ladder.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s Kell Brook will defend his IBF world welterweight title against American Errol Spence Jr at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane on 27 May.
Brook, 30, a Blades fan, has opted to return to welterweight having suffered the first loss of his career in September when he stepped up to face middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
Spence, 27, is unbeaten in 21 professional contests, with 18 knockout wins.