Josh Taylor looks set to take a break from the ring after his World Boxing Super Series win over Regis Prograis and is happy to wait until late spring or early summer next year for a clash with Jose Ramirez.
Taylor unified the IBF and WBA super-lightweight titles with a majority points decision over Prograis in London on Saturday night, seemingly setting up a bout with Ramirez, who holds the WBC and WBO titles.
Ramirez, who had hand surgery in August, is first likely to face Taylor’s old foe, Viktor Postol, the WBC’s mandatory challenger, probably in February. But while the prospect of a defence against Lewis Ritson has been dangled towards Taylor by Eddie Hearn, the promoter, it is not something that particularly interests Taylor’s camp.
“We want to do something sensational,” said Barry McGuigan, Taylor’s manager. “If Ramirez is going to face Postol that suits us fine and then we’ll face him after. Although Postol is a tough fight, he might lose.
“I want Josh to have a break. It has been a tough year for us all.”
That tough year came outside the ring, with a double tragedy affecting the Taylor camp in the run-up to the fight.
Danika McGuigan (Barry’s daughter and the sister of Shane, Taylor’s trainer) died from a cancer-related illness in July, while Taylor’s father-in-law died in September, when Taylor had been in camp in Canterbury, 450 miles from his family near Edinburgh.
Taylor, with one eye swollen shut, could not hold back the tears when talking about his father-in-law. He said he had chosen his ringwalk music – Step On by the Happy Mondays – in his honour.
“I’ve not been able to do the grieving properly, so it’s been hard,” Taylor said. “I’ve not been able to be there for my girlfriend, for her family, as much as I would have liked to have been.
“I used it as motivation. Especially in those last two rounds when I couldn’t see anything coming, it was pure determination and heart. I was saying, ‘Come on do this, do this for James’ or Jimmy as I called him. I was saying, ‘Do this for James’. I was purely driving just for him.
“I was running on pure instinct, heart and determination in the last two rounds, because I couldn’t see, so none of my tactics were working and everything was coming from that right side. But there was no way I was getting beat, that was my pure soul and drive.”
Taylor said that his rise to unified champion had defied his own expectation when he signed with the McGuigans in 2014 after claiming gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He had been on his way to London, where he collected his trophy from the Boxing Writers’ Club for best amateur, when he spoke to Shane on the phone and was convinced to join them.
“I always believed I would become world champion but I never believed I would be fighting for Ring belts, Ali trophies and in unification fights,” Taylor said. “I always knew I would be world champion but never so soon, after just four years as a professional. Wow. It’s hard to put into words at the minute.
“That last four fights have been world class fights. Out of the four of them, the only defeat was to Terence Crawford. I’m due a wee break now. Maybe I’ll fight a bin man next.”
But deep down, Taylor wants Ramirez. “I believe that is an easier fight than [Prograis], I believe it’s a more straightforward fight,” he said.
Taylor and Ramirez moved in similar circles as amateurs. They both boxed in the 2012 Olympics in London, where both lost their second bout, and the year before at the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, where Ramirez was beaten by Vasiliy Lomachenko.
It was in Baku where the two spoke to each other for the only time. Prior to joining the World Boxing Super Series, Taylor had been Ramirez’s No 1 contender in the WBC rankings.
“It was just passing, we just happened to be sat next to each other,” Taylor said. “I can’t remember what we said to each other.
“I’ve had him in my sights for a while. If this tournament didn’t come around I would probably have fought him. but you never know what boxing politics.”
The swelling around the eye will take a few days to heal, but having criticised Prograis at the pre-fight press conference for wearing sunglasses indoors, Taylor said he has no plans to the the same to hide his bruises.
“I don’t care, I’ll walk about like this proudly with these belts on for the next three or four weeks,” he said.