Thursday, June 08, 2023  |



New Faces: Josh Taylor

Fighters Network

Barry McGuigan’s passion is visceral when he discusses Josh Taylor.

That is understandable. The 55-year-old former featherweight champion turned manager has boxing coursing through his veins and there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to this sparkling young junior welterweight from Edinburgh, Scotland.

This Friday, in only his seventh professional outing, Taylor faces Dave Ryan for the vacant Commonwealth title on home ground. Ambitious? Audacious? Arduous? Potentially all three given that Taylor has never seen a third round as a professional, and will be taking part in his first scheduled 12-rounder.

“It’s a brave move, there’s no doubt about that,” acknowledged McGuigan, a Hall of Famer, who is CEO of Cyclone Promotions. “However, there is no trepidation on our part because Josh has done 12-rounders in the gym. He has actually sparred much bigger guys in a ring that’s the size of a postage stamp.

“Doing 12 rounds becomes a figment of a fighter’s imagination anyway. The only real differences are the noise of the crowd, the smaller gloves and you can’t afford to switch off for a second. Josh has really good radar, he’s getting more and more comfortable at close range and his engine is absolutely phenomenal.”



For the uninitiated, Taylor is far from being your average prospect. He is a former Team GB member who competed at the Olympics in London 2012. He won Commonwealth silver in Delhi 2010 and Commonwealth gold in Glasgow 2014. As well as having over 150 amateur contests, he also competed in the World Series of Boxing (WSB).

In other words, this is not his first rodeo.

“I’ve been all over the world as an amateur and fought the very best,” explained Taylor, who is 6-0 (6 KOs). “I’ve come across many different styles, so my first five or six professional fights were actually a bit of a step back in terms of opposition. I’m more than ready for Dave Ryan and I’ll prove it.

“My best weapons are my timing and my speed but I’m getting better all the time and I’ll never settle for where I’m at. There’s always room for improvement in every aspect of my game, so I’m working hard on my offense, my defense, my footwork, my counterpunching, my fitness, my strength – everything.”

Taylor’s arsenal is being developed for the paid ranks by Barry McGuigan’s son, Shane, who is fast becoming one of the top coaches in the world. The 27-year-old has taken Carl Frampton to unified titles at junior featherweight and, in July, moved him up to snatch his father’s old WBA featherweight belt from the previously unbeaten Leo Santa Cruz.

Not surprisingly, Shane has been around the sport since birth and his father is delighted with the progress he’s making with Taylor. “Shane is working on developing Josh’s lateral movement but bending at the knees with that lateral movement,” said McGuigan. “Josh will be able to stay in close when he has to pinch his toes into the canvas and hit hard but he’ll also have the ability to rest at close range without feeling threatened.

“His middle to long range distance is fabulous anyway but he’s actually getting better. My God, he’s a fantastic talent. I drive 150 miles every day to watch him spar and I’m a 55-year-old ex-champion who doesn’t don’t need to be doing that. Josh is so good to watch, though, and it’s great to see him on the pads with Shane and look over the things they’re working on.”

“The knowledge Shane has for such a young man is unbelievable,” said the 25-year-old Taylor, who is also an adept switch-hitter. “He’s only a couple of years older than myself but he has the head of a man who has been around the boxing game for 50 years.

“Shane’s attention to detail, the way he reads fights and the way he reads opponents is brilliant. We work on so much in the lead up to a fight. He’s a great coach but he also works hard on my nutrition and my strength and conditioning.”

Despite the fact that the stars seem aligned for Taylor to secure professional success, the importance of his upcoming fight is not lost on him. He is taking nothing for granted and switched between discussing state-of-the-art preparation and his early years within the sport in a very infectious manner.

“Alex Arthur (former WBO junior lightweight titleholder from Edinburgh) trained where my mum worked at the Meadowbank Sports Center,” Taylor recalled. “I would go and watch him train, or train alongside him, during the summer holidays and now my fight against Dave Ryan will take place at that venue.

“I’m only just into my second year as a professional and my first big opportunity is the Commonwealth title and that’s a really big belt to win. I’m grabbing this opportunity with both hands and it’s going to be an amazing night. My team believes that the timing is perfect and I believe that I can outbox and outfight Dave Ryan. I just can’t wait to get that belt around my waist.”

Given the pace at which Taylor’s career is progressing, one feels compelled to ask what the future holds. This reporter first encountered the Edinburgh man in early 2013, when he did some sparring with then-WBO lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns. Taylor was preparing for the WSB at that time and Burns, his countryman, was in hard training for a bout that didn’t come off against Miguel Vazquez.

Three and a half years later, Burns is the WBA junior welterweight titleholder and Taylor is one of the most exciting 140-pound prospects on U.K. soil.

“Ricky is an inspiration,” said Taylor with respect. “He’s the first Scotsman to become a three-weight world champion, he’s been in massive fights and he’s a nice guy as well. He trains so hard and it just shows you what hard work and dedication can do if you stick at it. If I can achieve anything like Ricky has, I’ll be a happy fighter but ultimately my goal is to become world champion.

“If, or when, I win the Commonwealth belt I think we’ll make a couple of defense. I don’t want to move too fast because it’s important to get proper experience. I’d like to move towards British title level and European in time but I don’t want to move straight to European and world level just yet.”



Mentor Barry McGuigan, however, had a slightly different take on what would be the first all-Scottish world title bout in history. “At the moment Ricky holds the WBA junior welterweight title and we’ll be gunning for that,” he said. “I don’t want to sound arrogant because the Scottish, like the Irish, don’t take kindly to arrogance. I don’t want to say outrageous things but Josh isn’t far off fighting very big fights.

“We have great respect for Ricky Burns but he’s in Josh’s weight division and it’s a natural fight down the line. I’ll have to look and see how Josh performs against Dave Ryan and from what I understand, Ricky is going out to fight (Adrien) Broner in the States. I don’t know whether that will materialize or not but there’s a potential super fight for him at home too.”

Up to this point, Josh Taylor has done everything asked of him but we will get a genuine barometer of his talent on Friday. Ryan (17-9, 4 KOs) is a former Commonwealth titleholder who is accustomed to springing surprises and he owns a victory over reigning British champion, Tyrone Nurse.

“Mark my words, Josh Taylor will look absolutely spectacular against Dave Ryan,” was the ominous response from McGuigan, who knows more than most. “Nacho Beristain watched him fight in the States and told Shane that this kid will be a world champion.”


Josh Taylor vs. Dave Ryan will be live and exclusive on Channel 5 in the U.K. from 10 p.m. Tickets are available online at the Cyclone Promotions website or from the Meadowbank Sports Center Tel: 0131 6615351. Fans are also welcome to purchase tickets on the night.


Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing