Josh Taylor: I've got a massive fear of losing

Most will admit to being spooked by something. A fear of dying, a fear of getting old, a fear of heights, a fear of spiders to put a few out there. Trivial to most but, for others, it can be extremely debilitating.

The Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall weigh in at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
The Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall weigh in at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.

It could be deemed a complete cop-out for boxer Josh Taylor to suggest he has a genuine fear of losing. But scratch away at the surface and you can see where the undisputed super lightweight champion is coming from. He has yet to experience defeat as a professional in 18 contests and was a standout in the amateurs which culminated in gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. His body language said it all when presented with silver as a gawky teenager four years prior in Delhi. He was on the brink of tears as he stood next to the victorious Thomas Stalker who, at the time, had swiped away the one thing he'd fought tooth and nail for. The lion's share of 19-year-olds would bend over backwards to bring home silver for their country. Not Taylor. His body and mindset simply don't align that way. His last loss in the ring was eight years ago as Almasbek Alibekov got the better of the Prestonpans puncher in an international challenge match between Great Britain and Kazakhstan.

"I've got a massive fear of getting beat," he explained ahead of his first defence as undisputed super lightweight champion against Chorley's Jack Catterall tonight. "That’s what keeps me sharp and on my toes. It gives me the butterflies and keeps making me perform. It’s the fear of getting beat. I want to win. I’m a fiercely competitive person so everything I do I want to win at. I don’t want to get beat at anything.

"I’ve always been like that. I hated losing. Even playing snakes and ladders when I was a kid. If I got beat the whole board would go up in the air, I’d rip it up and wouldn’t play again. I just hate getting beat – letting myself down, letting everyone else down as well. The fans and everyone. I know there might be times in the fight when it’s not all going my way. That’s fine, we’ve got a long time to be in there – there’s 36 minutes to work him out.

"I know Jack’s a good fighter and a class operator and he’s here to win and better his and his family’s life. He’s posing a big threat to me and my plans and me being able to provide for my future family as well."

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Catterall, 28, accepts he is the massive underdog and is anticipating a chorus of boos from a partisan and, at times, hostile crowd at a sold-out Hydro in Glasgow. But the Englishman insists he can spring a shock across the boxing fraternity.

"I know how to turn it on when that bell goes," he said. "I’ve won all 26 of my fights quite comfortably. If he comes in too eager, then he won’t be as sharp and he won’t be remembering the drills he learned in the gym.

“I don’t think you can prepare for this sort of atmosphere unless you arrange for 14,000 fans to come into an arena and boo you two or three times a week."