Josh Taylor: Ohara Davies is ‘gonna get a pasting’
Last weekend, Brisbane, Australia, staged Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title defense against Jeff Horn. We expected very little, but the subsequent battle oozed drama and produced what was arguably the most controversial and debated decision of the year.
This Saturday, some 10,000 miles away, in Glasgow, Scotland, Josh Taylor will make the second defense of his Commonwealth junior welterweight title against the bombastic, but unquestionably talented, Ohara Davies. The stakes aren’t as high in this battle of unbeaten 140-pounders, and the locale certainly isn’t as glamorous, but this matchup is high-quality.
Taylor, a superbly skilled 26-year-old boxer-puncher from Edinburgh, Scotland, has scored eight knockouts in nine straight wins. Davies, one year younger, hails from London and has posted 12 stoppages in 15 starts. The traditional Scotland versus England rivalry is potent in all sports but there was some role-reversal at the opening press conference when a fiery Taylor went head-to-head with a surprisingly circumspect Davies.
“I was actually pretty laid back about it all to be honest,” said Taylor, a Commonwealth gold medalist who also competed at the London 2012 Olympics. “I was just telling him that he’s gonna get a pasting (laughs). People were thinking that I was putting on an act but I wasn’t – I’m serious.
“This fight has come around quicker than I thought it would. I thought it would be similar to Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg (which brewed for years). But, why not have it now? Let’s get it done because I would have to fight him sooner or later. I’m confident of winning and he’s been talking a lot of smack on social media.”
This disrespect theme is also shared by Taylor’s manager, Barry McGuigan, the former RING and WBA featherweight champion and CEO of Cyclone Promotions. Davies is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, which had a less than cordial relationship with Cyclone when they co-promoted the Frampton-Quigg bout last year.
“They tried to embarrass us and they said that Josh was afraid, which is complete and utter nonsense,” said McGuigan, whose company will be sole promoter for the Taylor-Davies fight.
“I wasn’t going to fight on Sky Sports (which televises Matchroom shows) so we bid a lot of money to get it on Channel 5 (network television) and here we are. The fans can see it for free. It’s a tough fight, no question about it, but they’re both going to fight tough opponents at some stage. I’m just convinced that Josh Taylor has much more in his locker than Ohara Davies and he’ll prove it on the night.”
So, business aside, what do we have in terms of style confrontation? Taylor, a tall and fundamentally sound southpaw, has the amateur pedigree and quick fists. Davies, deceivingly rangy himself, appears to hit harder and, like Taylor, has received rave reviews throughout the embryonic stages of his professional career.
The oddsmakers favor the home fighter but opinion is divided among fans and experts who view this as a genuine 50/50 affair.
Taylor said, “I believe I can outbox him. I believe I can outfight him. I believe I can outmuscle him. Even though it’s going to be a tricky fight, I believe this is my fight to lose. I feel that I’m better in every single department.
“I’m sharp enough, strong enough, fast enough and hit hard enough to knock him out. He’ll not see the shots coming. I don’t go looking for the knockout, which is why I don’t end fights early. I go out to box well and hit people with the right shots. I’m fast and accurate and the ones that hurt you are the ones you don’t see.”
As one might expect, Taylor was in no mood to heap praise on his adversary. It’s not the Scotsman’s job to flatter Davies, particularly after such an acrimonious buildup. McGuigan, however, did acknowledge the respect they have for the opponent and was analytical in terms of plusses and minuses.
“Davies fights at a low center of gravity, he has long arms, he’s awkward and he hits hard,” said the Hall-of-Famer, before divulging what he personally views as weaknesses. “He lacks pace and he likes to control the fight. Josh won’t let him fight at his own pace.
“Josh is a big strong junior welterweight who will eventually move to full welterweight. He’s world class; he campaigned at the highest level of amateur boxing, he switches pace, he’s unorthodox and he can switch-hit. He’s an altogether different kettle of fish. There’s no point in me saying anymore – we’ll see on the night.”
Along with his advantages, Taylor will be roared on by rampant home support. Davies, arguably the most precocious personality in British boxing, will be made to feel about as welcome as a hole in a lifeboat.
“I think it’s going to be good,” hissed Taylor with an air of expectancy. “Although I’m from Edinburgh, on the east coast, the Scottish fans are very passionate and they always get behind their own. I think it’s gonna be great and I don’t think his attitude has gone down too well. A lot of people don’t like that carry on and I expect him to get a cool reception.”
Expect a red-hot fight on Saturday.
Taylor-Davies will be live on Channel 5 in the U.K. from 10.00 p.m. (local time). Tickets are available via TicketMaster.
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
Struggling to locate a copy of THE RING Magazine? Try here or…
You can subscribe to the print and digital editions of THE RING Magazine by clicking the banner or here. You can also order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page. On the cover this month: Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko.