‘Dy­na­mite’ Tay­lor has McGuigan ex­cited ahead of Las Ve­gas bout

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FOR THE RECORD - STEVE BREN­NER

THE ex­cite­ment etched all over Barry McGuigan’s face was un­mis­tak­able.

McGuigan is a fris­son of ac­tiv­ity dur­ing fight week and, as Belfast’s Carl Framp­ton, whom he man­ages, pre­pares for a po­ten­tially ca­reerdefin­ing WBA feath­er­weight ti­tle re­match with Mex­i­can Leo Santa Cruz on Satur­day night, the Ir­ish leg­end’s an­tic­i­pa­tion lev­els have reached fever pitch.

Yet there’s some­one else also get­ting his fight­ing juices flow­ing.

As Framp­ton held court in the MGM Grand ho­tel, venue of this week­end’s card, a young fighter from Ed­in­burgh looked on with a glint in his eye.

Light wel­ter­weight Josh Tay­lor, like ev­ery­one else, was lis­ten­ing in­tently to Framp­ton, one of Bri­tain’s most grounded and bril­liant sports­men, dis­sect his ca­reer and lay out plans for the fu­ture.

Once the Jackal moved away from the mi­cro­phones, how­ever, McGuigan called over Tay­lor.

“Seven fights, seven wins, seven knock-outs. He’s been amaz­ing in the gym this past week. We are so ex­cited. He’s dy­na­mite,” said the Clones Cy­clone.

McGuigan and son Shane have been blown away with the 26-year-old su­per feath­er­weight who has spent time spar­ring with for­mer wel­ter­weight world cham­pion Shawn Porter ahead of his ap­pear­ance on the un­der­card here against Mex­ico’s Al­fonso Olvera (11 fights, eight wins, two de­feats and a draw).

Tay­lor has been lap­ping up the Las Ve­gas ex­pe­ri­ence with rel­ish.

“Be­ing here, at the MGM Grand is just fan­tas­tic,” he told Her­ald Sport ahead of his third out­ing State­side.

“I mean, it’s not a patch on Mead­ow­bank in Ed­in­burgh, but I’ll take it. “I keep get­ting lost in the ho­tel and I have been here a week but in all se­ri­ous­ness this has been amaz­ing and I can­not wait for Satur­day.

“My fam­ily are com­ing over and have never even been to Amer­ica. His two de­feats have come against un­de­feated prospects but he comes to fight so I will need to be switched on.”

“I am learn­ing so much about be­ing a pro, “the Scot added.

“Carl has helped me adapt my style, slow­ing down a bit, im­prov­ing my move­ment , be­ing a bit more pa­tient, trans­fer­ring of the weight.

“Even when I am fin­ished I watch him with Shane and learn so much. I couldn’t be in a bet­ter po­si­tion.

“Go­ing in with some­one like Shawn was fan­tas­tic. I was a wee bit ner­vous be­fore the first spar. I’ve im­pressed my­self. I was re­ally sharp against him.

“He was prais­ing my speed, power and strength. It was a real con­fi­dence booster get­ting praise from some­one like him.”

Olvera will be no pushover though in metic­u­lous fash­ion, the McGuigans leave noth­ing to chance. Tay­lor is clearly loving ev­ery minute. Fight­ing in New York last sum­mer on the ini­tial Framp­ton v Santa Cruz un­der­card was one thing. Be­ing in Sin City, the undis­puted home of the fight game, how­ever, is some­thing else.

“I wasn’t quite as ex­cited box­ing in New York as I am in Ve­gas,” said Tay­lor.

The 27-year-old Olvera should pose a stern test though the McGuigans are al­ready plan­ning for the fu­ture. It wasn’t long be­fore Ricky Burns’s name was men­tioned.

An all-Scot­tish af­fair would have no prob­lem en­tic­ing fans and ex­cite­ment.

Yet, at this junc­ture, ex­pe­ri­ence, not ti­tles, is the key.

“I need to de­velop a lit­tle bit more. It’s about get­ting the fights at the right time,” he added.

Ev­ery­thing is happening quickly fol­low­ing that sur­prise call from McGuigan Sr two years ago and Tay­lor didn’t need to think twice about turn­ing pro hav­ing mem­o­rably won gold at Glas­gow’s Com­mon­wealth games.

In Ve­gas, how­ever, it’s im­pos­si­ble for a young fighter not to think of the greats who’ve lit up the Strip over the years. Ali. Sugar Ray Leonard. Mike Tyson. Floyd May­weather.

Tay­lor’s in­spi­ra­tion, how­ever, is closer to home.

“I’d like to do some­thing like what Ken Buchanan did,” he smiled. “Bring ti­tles back to my home city like Kenny did and have big fights out here.

“He comes into my home gym and still trains. He gives me all his old sto­ries, it is bril­liant. He still trains, comes in and whacks the bag. He gives me com­pli­ments and a bit of ad­vice ev­ery time he comes in the gym. He has told me about his times in Amer­ica.

“He told me about the time he had the chief dress­ing room and he had to share it with Muham­mad Ali, they drew the line across the dress­ing room.

“It is great to hear the sto­ries and the way they fought back then was crazy.

“If I can do a quar­ter as much as what Ken did I will be a happy man.”

Pic­ture: SNS

JAB AT GLORY: Tay­lor hopes to em­u­late hero Ken Buchanan.

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