Watching Josh Taylor & his trainer Shane McGuigan go through repetition after repetition making sure they get every drill perfect, neither man willing to rest until each shot becomes second nature is almost as impressive as watching him fight. Josh will be defending his WBC Silver Super Lightweight Title on 3rd March at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow against another Mexican. This time standing in his way is Humberto Soto, a former two-weight world champion. As Josh sat down to his meal after training we discussed the upcoming fight, his World Title ambitions and his younger life as an entertainer!!
There has been a mixed response from fans around Soto as an opponent for this one. Do you feel it could be a no-win fight for you as stopping him early and people could say he was past it but if it goes long they say you aren’t as good as they thought?
“No not really, boxing fans can be fickle, this will only be my twelvth fight and I’m already in the top 5 of the world so it’s kind of like where do you go at this stage of your career. We were looking to get the Anthony Yigit fight and we offered him it but he asked for about 3 times the money to price himself out of it. That would have been a great step up and a good fight for me at European level before stepping up again but it wasn’t to be. All the other guys in the rankings all had fights lined up, Ramirez, Postol, Garcia, and Lipinets, none of them were available so the best viable option was Soto. It’s a great fight for me at this stage as well as I’m still learning and relatively inexperienced as a pro, I’ve only been the distance once and that was over 8 rounds. This guy has been in with the best, his combination punching is brilliant, his defence is great so it’s a hard fight for me and I can’t switch off as if I switch off I’ll get clipped. So this is a very good learning fight for me, one that I’m confident of winning but it’s still quite a difficult fight”
Will it still be easy to get yourself motivated and excited for this one?
“It’s still easy to get myself motivated as I’ve got goals and know where I want to go, anyone who is put in front of me is standing in my way of that. I’m very self -motivated I don’t need anything in particular to motivate me”
After the Soto fight and presuming you win, map out the rest of the year for me as you move towards World titles?
“To be honest you never know what will happen in boxing. You just have to take it as it comes and see whatever opportunities arise. If a World Title fight became available in my next fight I’d take it as I believe in my own ability, I’ll take any opportunity with both hands to become a world champion. I could still fight for a European Title if Yigit vacates or something like that or even Jack Catterall. In a perfect situation, I’d love to fight for a title in the summer and become a World Champion, but if not then maybe by the end of the year. If that doesn’t happen then it’s definitely on the cards for next year. We are knocking on the door and I don’t want to rush into the big fights but at the same time I want to be getting there. I’d love to get the WBC belt as that’s one of the best belts along with Ring Magazine but any of the belts and your still world champion. My goal was to become World Champion and unify the division so any belt that comes up I’ll grab it with both hands, one belt leads to another belt and I can hopefully unify the division”
Anyone in particular as a fighter you would ideally like to take on first?
“Well before it was Ricky Burns but I think that boats sailed now, I wanted that fight as it would have been massive for Scotland and sold out the arena twice over. It would have been great for the fans but I think that’s away now. Apart from that I don’t really have a favourite, I’d fight them all. I like the Regis Prograis fight I think that could be a good one, Jose Ramirez would be another good fight. Mikey Garcia is top of the tree so that’s further down the line, I want to be the best so you have to fight these guys. I’m not scared of anyone and even though I’m not quite ready for that if Barry (McGuigan) was to turn around and say to me we have the Garcia fight next do you want to take it then absolutely I’m taking it I’m going to knock his head off, that’s the attitude I’ve got and that’s the attitude you need”
Looking back at the Vazquez fight Shane criticised you for showing too much emotion or frustration and not having a poker face, have you been working on that side.
“I’m usually all right at that and even in the amateurs, I was always quite good at being calm and not showing much emotion, except if I’d had a bad sparring session or if I’m not getting something right on the pads. I’ve learnt to control that and always been quite good at keeping calm so I’m not sure what came over me in that fight as it was quite uncharacteristic of me. I think I was maybe trying too hard to get him out of there. I was missing the odd shot and getting caught with counters and I was thinking I just want to get him. After about 6 rounds I was more relaxed and got behind my jab again and managed to stop him”
At the Vazquez fight, Danielle (Josh’s girlfriend) was sitting behind me and I couldn’t help notice how loud she was screaming for you.
“She throws the punches with me laughed Josh, all my family do except my mum. She is a bag of nerves during my fights even in the lead up to fights. She comes but doesn’t really like it, she’s fine if it’s me hitting the guy but doesn’t like to see me getting hit which is obviously natural.
There was a clip going around of you in the ring afterwards motioning let’s go for a drink, did you?
“I said to him lets go for a tequila with him being Mexican and he went no no no we are in Scotland whisky. I never managed to get a drink with him in the end which was a shame because he had to go to the hospital for his ribs and I had to go and get my eye stitched so I never managed to see him before he left.
You’ve mentioned before that you are not the finished article yet, what do you feel you still have to work on?
“Loads of things, bits of footwork I can do, small steps when I’m on the inside or transferring my weight better. Being a bit calmer when I’m on the inside or my tucking and rolling, there is always room for improvement and I don’t think you are ever the finished article as you are always improving. I think I’m a very good fighter; I’ve got very good potential and the ability to be able to mix it with the top guys. You just have to practice bringing it all together and making sure you bring it into the fight”
In a lighter moment, we moved on to talking about Josh doing his own ring walk music as I’d heard that he was a decent singer when he was younger.
“I was a great chanter at school, I did a brilliant Oliver Twist and when I was with my grandad for a laugh I used to do Pavarotti. Also, when I was at school in show and tell I piped up I can do a quality Pavarotti and I got up did a wee bit, my teacher took me round the other classes at the school to do it for them as well. I came back with my jumper full of stickers and had loads of lollypops. I used to do the dances and songs out of chitty chitty bang bang for my grandad’s pals in the pub as I loved that movie and come home with pockets of cash, it was brilliant”
Finally, we moved back to the Soto fight and Josh gave his prediction on how he felt it would go.
“I think I can get him out of there but I won’t be going looking for it. With Vazquez, I didn’t really respect his power so I was trying to walk through him and get him out of there. Soto is a more rounded fighter and good at making himself small, I’ll have to be careful as he has good body punches. I’ve watched his fights and he can really fight, he picks his punches really well and he’s very cute under pressure so I will have to make sure I’m totally switched on. I do think I’ll stop him though; I think I might shock him with my power and speed in the initial couple of rounds. If I don’t get him early I will definitely catch up with him further into the fight as I will be fighting at a high pace and I think he will struggle to keep up with that. Everyone seems to struggle to keep up with my pace for some reason so I think I can definitely stop him but I obviously need to be careful”
Tickets are now on sale with prices starting at only £40 up to £125 for VIP Inner Ringside, they are available from WWW.TICKETMASTER.CO.UK or by calling 0844 844 0444.