‘Dynamite’ Taylor has McGuigan excited ahead of Las Vegas bout
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.”
JAB AT GLORY: Taylor hopes to emulate hero Ken Buchanan.