It seems like only yesterday that Josh Taylor became a professional.
The former amateur star turned over in El Paso, Texas in July 2015 on the undercard of then stablemate Carl Frampton and sparkled in a second-round stoppage of Archie Weah. All the hallmarks of Taylor’s fighting style were there: quick hands, fast feet, punch variety and serious spite.
During the four years which have passed, the Scottish southpaw has gone from strength to strength and is now on the cusp of realizing a dream.
On Saturday, at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, Taylor will contest his first world championship bout against IBF junior welterweight titleholder Ivan Baranchyk in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series.
With the exception of a hard-fought unanimous decision triumph over former WBC titleholder Viktor Postol last June, the 28-year-old Taylor has rarely been tested. However, the challenger expects Baranchyk to bring his A-game on Saturday and he is prepared to dig deep for victory.
“I’m expecting a tough fight, I really am,” Taylor told The Ring following Wednesday’s press conference at the Crowne Plaza. “He’s gonna come and really put the pressure on. He’s gonna try to maul me and overwhelm me with his big shots and use his strength. He’ll try to be dirty; use his elbows, hit me low, but it’s not gonna work.”
Prior to speaking to Taylor, I had bumped into Baranchyk and his trainer, Freddie Roach. The defending titleholder was quietly confident of taking care of business on foreign soil, whereas his Hall of Fame coach was almost dismissive of Taylor’s chances, stating that this would be an “easy fight.”
Roach also insisted that Taylor’s swiftness of foot will pose no problems for his charge whatsoever.
“It’s pre-fight talk and he can say what he wants,” said Taylor with a shrug. “He believes that [Baranchyk) is gonna come in there and beat the shit out of me and that’s the kind of thing he always says.
“It’s only me and Ivan Baranchyk in the ring. I noticed in the [media] workouts that [Roach] was cutting the ring off when Baranchyk was moving on the pads. The thing is, for such a small fighter, he fights wide, so we’ll see. We’re expecting him to come at me and we believe we have an answer for everything.”
Taylor is ranked No. 2 by The Ring at 140 pounds and Baranchyk is No. 5. This is a matchup of the highest quality and the contrasting styles could result in a fight of the year candidate.
Tom Gray is the Associate Editor for The Ring and a member of The Ring ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: Tom_Gray_Boxing
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