TOUR­NA­MENT TIME

Josh gam­bles with Martin ght in WBSS, writes Daniel Herbert

Boxing News - - CONTENTS -

Josh Tay­lor and Ryan Bur­nett be­gin their WBSS cam­paigns in Glas­gow

ONE has to ad­mire Josh Tay­lor. In an era when many top box­ers avoid chal­lenges, the Scot­tish south­paw has ac­tively sought them out – and now he em­braces his tough­est yet.

On Satur­day (No­vem­ber 3), at his favoured SSE Hy­dro venue in Glas­gow, the Pre­ston­pans man en­ters the World Box­ing Su­per Se­ries su­per-light­weight tour­na­ment, against an un­beaten op­po­nent to boot in the USA’S Ryan Martin.

Given that in his short pro ca­reer (13 fights, all wins) Tay­lor had al­ready picked up the Com­mon­wealth and WBC Sil­ver belts, one might have ex­pected him to rest on the high rat­ings he had earned with sanc­tion­ing bod­ies un­til a world ti­tle crack came along. In­stead, he and his team at Cy­clone Pro­mo­tions (who stage this week­end’s show) took the cal­cu­lated risk of en­ter­ing the WBSS.

“I’m so ex­cited for this tour­na­ment,” said Tay­lor. “It’s mas­sive for me and my pro­file, be­cause it’s a world tour­na­ment.”

In­deed, the first three 140lb quar­ter-fi­nals have al­ready hap­pened in Ja­pan, where Kir­ill Re­likh beat Ed­uard Troy­anovsky; and New Or­leans, where last week­end Regis Prograis beat Terry Flana­gan and Ivan Baranchyk stopped An­thony Yigit to clinch a semi against the Tay­lor-martin win­ner.

“I should beat Martin and then I’ll be ready to fight any­where in the semi-fi­nals,” said Tay­lor, although the 27-year-old – man­aged by for­mer world feath­er­weight champ Barry Mcguigan – is surely smart enough not to count his chick­ens be­fore they’ve hatched.

All the more so given that, last time out in June, Tay­lor had a hard­erthan-ex­pected time in sub­du­ing Vik­tor Pos­tol, out­point­ing the Ukrainian over 12 rounds with a late knock­down seem­ing to tilt things his way defini­tively (although it was wide on the cards).

Given that Pos­tol is a for­mer WBC cham­pion whose only pre­vi­ous loss came against Ter­ence Craw­ford, it was a no­table vic­tory – just not a re­peat of

‘HE HAS POWER AND SPEED. MY HANDS ARE FULL WITH MARTIN’

the dom­i­nant per­for­mance Josh had pro­duced when knock­ing out an­other for­mer global ruler, Mex­ico’s Miguel Vazquez, in nine rounds a year ago.

Pos­tol pro­vided a timely re­minder that there are few pushovers at top level, a les­son that Tay­lor has seem­ingly em­braced; he has done his re­search on Martin, who has won all 22 fights with­out hav­ing been re­ally tested.

“He’s a well-rounded fighter,” con­ceded the Scot. “He has fast hands, is good de­fen­sively and has good vari­a­tion in his punches. He has power as well, de­spite only 12 stop­pages on his record. I know I’ve got my hands full.”

Yet Martin’s place in this tour­na­ment is as much down to po­ten­tial as ac­tual achieve­ment. Born in Ohio and raised in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee, Ryan is pro­moted by Gen­nady Golovkin’s pro­moter Tom Lo­ef­fler and, like “GGG”, trained by Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, Cal­i­for­nia.

A fine pedi­gree, then, but the truth is the most recog­nis­able name on Martin’s record re­mains Brei­dis Prescott, the Colom­bian who shocked a young Amir Khan with a first-round KO a decade ago. And Ryan beat Prescott (unan­i­mous de­ci­sion, eight rounds) as re­cently as May this year, in the Amer­i­can’s first fight scal­ing 140lbs af­ter pre­vi­ously box­ing at light­weight.

Oth­er­wise, Martin’s high­lights are pick­ing up the WBC Con­ti­nen­tal Amer­i­cas trin­ket with an eighth-round stop­page of Bryant Cruz in March 2017 and adding the WBA In­ter-con­ti­nen­tal bauble with a 10-round vic­tory over Fran­cisco Rojo six months later. And that was a split de­ci­sion, with mar­gins of one and three points over­rul­ing a seven-point card for Mex­ico’s Rojo.

Martin, who has been in Scot­land since Satur­day (Oc­to­ber 27), has looked ripped in train­ing camp pho­tos and is cer­tainly talk­ing a good fight.

He said, “I saw Tay­lor against Pos­tol and thought it was a lot more com­pet­i­tive than some of the me­dia out­lets put it out to be. Josh Tay­lor’s a very good fighter, one of the best in the di­vi­sion.

“This tour­na­ment is my chance to get fights and be known more. It’s ex­cit­ing and it’s go­ing to be fire­works.”

If there is to be a spec­tac­u­lar end­ing, it’s likely to come from Tay­lor. He’s not quite the con­cus­sive hit­ter sug­gested by his 11 early wins but he busts op­po­nents up steadily with his ac­cu­rate, hurt­ful shots – and he de­liv­ers vi­cious blows down­stairs, one of those fin­ish­ing Vazquez in style.

Worth not­ing is that in two of his big­gest fights Martin was docked a point for low blows - in round nine against Rojo and in round four against Prescott. Does his tech­nique be­come ragged against tougher op­po­nents who take him deep into fights? If so, it bodes ill for his chances against Tay­lor, who has the skills and the en­gine to push him to the limit – and break him.

That’s the prob­a­ble sce­nario for Satur­day night, bar­ring un­ex­pected events such as cuts. Ex­pect Tay­lor to take a look early on be­fore gain­ing con­trol with his solid hit­ting and scor­ing a knock­down or two en route to a con­clu­sive points vic­tory over his less sea­soned ri­val.

An­other WBSS quar­ter-fi­nal on the Glas­gow bill pits Belfast tal­ent

Ryan Bur­nett against for­mer mul­ti­weight cham­pion Nonito Don­aire at ban­tamweight, with the for­mer de­fend­ing his WBA “Su­per” world ti­tle.

That is if the “Filipino Flash” makes the 118lbs limit – some­thing he hasn’t done since No­vem­ber 2011, when he re­tained the WBO ban­tam crown against Omar Nar­vaez in New York City.

Since then he has boxed 15 times, most re­cently when be­ing soundly outscored over 12 rounds by an­other North­ern Ir­ish­man, Carl Framp­ton, at feath­er­weight in April. All 15 bouts were at either 122lbs or 126lbs.

Now Nonito, who turns 36 on No­vem­ber 16, in­sists he will make 118lbs this week­end but the WBSS or­gan­is­ers are tak­ing no chances and have lined up a re­serve in Ellesmere Port’s Paul But­ler, who is sched­uled to box Yoan Boyeaux over 10 rounds on the Glas­gow bill.

Even if he does hit the ban­tamweight limit, it’s hard to see Don­aire re­cap­tur­ing the ex­plo­sive form of his early ca­reer when he flat­tened the likes of Vic Darchinyan (five rounds at fly­weight in 2007) and Fer­nando Mon­tiel (two rounds at ban­tam in 2011). A tremen­dous run of form made him

Box­ing News’ In­ter­na­tional Fighter of the Year for 2012 be­fore the south­paw skills of Guillermo Rigondeaux bam­boo­zled him in 2013, since when he has also lost to Ni­cholas Wal­ters (stopped in six rounds) and Jessie Mag­daleno (points) as well as Framp­ton.

At 38-5 (24) his record is still highly re­spectable but his fu­ture, at least in a box­ing sense, is long be­hind him. Bur­nett, on the other hand, is un­beaten at 19-0 (9) and at or ap­proach­ing his prime at 26. He won the IBF belt from Lee Hask­ins in June 2017 and added the WBA ti­tle against Zhanat Zhakiyanov four months later be­fore hang­ing on to the lat­ter crown only against Yon­frejo Perez in March this year.

That was Ryan’s sole fight of 2018 but as­sum­ing there is no rust he should out­box the age­ing Don­aire. The Us-based Filipino’s power can make him danger­ous in the early rounds be­fore Bur­nett’s grit and va­ri­ety grind him down for a wide points win.

But­ler, 26-2 (14) and a for­mer IBF cham­pion at ban­tam, ought to have the skills to see off Boyeaux even if he is left de­flated at not be­ing called in to re­place Don­aire.

The French­man is an ex­pe­ri­enced 41-5 (26) but last time out in De­cem­ber trav­elled to Ja­pan to be crushed in three rounds of a WBO su­per-fly­weight ti­tle bid against the fear­some Naoya Inoue. But­ler should tri­umph on points.

Some­what over­shad­owed on this stacked card is an ex­cel­lent 12-rounder for the va­cant Bri­tish su­per-mid­dleweight ti­tle be­tween Zach Parker and Dar­ryll Wil­liams.

Parker, from Woodville in Der­byshire, is 16-0 (11) with his best win a oner­ound de­struc­tion of Luke Blackledge. Wil­liams, from For­est Hill in south Lon­don, boasts a 17-0 (7) ledger that in­cludes two ex­cit­ing points de­ci­sions over Jah­maine Smyle.

Parker’s ex­tra power can tip things his way, prob­a­bly by late stop­page.

THE VER­DICT Tay­lor can get his cam­paign off to a flier.

Photo: WORLD BOX­ING SU­PER SE­RIES

WE HAVE A FIGHT: Tay­lor and Martin [right] are in­tro­duced by pro­moter, Kalle Sauer­land [cen­tre]

Photo: AC­TION IM­AGES

NA­TIONAL PRIDE: Tay­lor is get­ting used to de­light­ing his lo­cal fans

Photo: WORLD BOX­ING SU­PER SE­RIES

WILL HE MAKE WEIGHT? Either way, Don­aire [right] drop­ping down to chal­lenge Bur­nett is un­likely to end well for the Filipino

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