Josh Taylor believes Ivan Baranchyk is delusional if the Belarusian expects to dictate the flow of this weekend’s IBF world super lightweight title showdown.
The Edinburgh boxer stands on the brink of joining esteemed Scottish fighters and former world champions Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt and Ricky Burns, when he faces current IBF champion Baranchyk in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) semi-finals at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on Saturday.
Baranchyk, nicknamed “The Beast”, boasts an impressive CV featuring 19 consecutive wins as a professional. Make no mistake about it, he has come to Glasgow to win. The 26-year-old has also recently added world-renowned trainer Freddie Roach to his team.
But Taylor, also undefeated with 14 victories and the current WBC Silver champion, insists Baranchyk doesn’t know what he’s got coming.
“I don’t think he underestimates me but if he thinks he’s going to come and walk through me then he’s in for a big shock when I hit him,” Taylor, 28, said.
“He’s never really been hit by anybody in his pro career. I’m happy to fight him, of course I am, but it will be on my terms. I’m not going to let him come forward or put me against the ropes. I will fight him back and I believe I will catch him with these wild swings that he puts out there.
“This is going to be a tough fight. I’m expecting it to be tough, I really am. He’s going to come and try to put the pressure on, try to maul me and overwhelm me with his big shots, his strength. He’ll be a bit dirty, use his elbows, hit me low, things like that. But it’s not going to work.
“I’m most effective when I’m mid to short range and I feel really comfortable. If that’s the kind of fight it’s going to be then I’m more than happy.”
Twelve rounds – or 36 minutes – are now all that stands between Taylor and his first world title, a moment he has fantasised about since first walking through the doors of Lochend Boxing Club aged 15. A fine amateur career saw him compete at the 2012 Olympics in London before he went on to secure gold two years later at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – at the Hydro.
However, Taylor is surprisingly cool, calm and collected despite his biggest moment in the sport being little more than 48 hours away.
“I’m surprisingly laid back and have been sleeping like a baby so I feel great,” he said. “It’s probably due to my preparations as everything has gone smoothly.
“I’ve broken a couple of ribs sparring, busted up their noses and a couple of guys haven’t come back. They’ve said at the end of the week they’ll be back and then they haven’t shown up on Monday so I’m punching hard with less effort.
“Away from the ring I’m living in London now with my girlfriend and my dog so I’m happy. I feel in a good place. I’m relaxed and focused on what needs to be done.
“Of course I miss the banter of home as it’s not the same down south but these are the sacrifices you have to make in your career. If I don’t become a world champion then at least I can always say I gave it my best shot.
“To become world champion in front of my friends and family and the Scottish fans is a dream come true.”