TAY­LOR STEPS UP

Even at 34 Pos­tol is a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent for Tay­lor, writes

Boxing News - - Con­tents - El­liot Worsell

Ris­ing Scot moves up in class to take on the ac­com­plished Pos­tol in Glas­gow

AS we ap­proach the mid­point of 2018, there’s no bet­ter time to nom­i­nate Satur­day’s (june23) su­per-light­weight clash be­tween Josh Tay­lor and Vik­tor Pos­tol as the stand­out bit of match­mak­ing in Bri­tain so far this year. Ei­ther a stroke or ge­nius or a cat­a­strophic mis­step, there has been no fight an­nounced in the past six months that has both sur­prised and de­lighted as much as Tay­lor vs. Pos­tol at the SSE Hy­dro, Glas­gow.

In many ways, it’s a box­ing anom­aly; the sort of fight the sport’s frame­work – em­pha­sis on risk aver­sion and un­de­feated records – usu­ally pre­vents from hap­pen­ing. But some­how it is hap­pen­ing and Tay­lor’s buck­ing a trend and free­ing him­self from shack­les that were never re­ally at­tached in the first place. It’s a tes­ta­ment to his go-get­ting spirit. It’s a tes­ta­ment, also, to the faith and con­fi­dence of his man­age­ment team.

Be­cause, on pa­per at least, it would ap­pear a step too far for the Scots­man at this stage. Pos­tol, af­ter all, is a for­mer WBC world cham­pion whose only de­feat in 30 pro fights came at the hands of Terence Craw­ford, ar­guably the most gifted Amer­i­can boxer on the planet. (Pos­tol still man­aged to go the dis­tance.)

More­over, be­fore that loss, Pos­tol’s danger was made abun­dantly clear in stop­page wins against the likes of Lu­cas Matthysse and Sel­cuk Ay­din, both of whom were bro­ken down late. If you need further proof, he also has vic­to­ries over the likes of Yvan Mendy, the scourge of Luke Camp­bell, Hank Lundy and Jamshid­bek Na­jmid­di­nov, all of whom would rep­re­sent per­fectly ac­cept­able op­po­nents for Josh Tay­lor this week­end. With Pos­tol, 29-1 (12), it’s not just the wins. It’s the all-round style and grace of the man – imag­ine a smaller Kl­itschko brother with a greater de­sire to throw punches – that will present Tay­lor with looks and prob­lems he has yet to en­counter in a rel­a­tively short pro ca­reer. It’s also his power, suf­fi­cient to dent tough guys like Matthysse and Ay­din, and the poise and com­po­sure he has used to mostly good ef­fect in six 12-rounders. All th­ese things com­bine to make Satur­day’s fight with Tay­lor, 12-0 (11), a fas­ci­nat­ing one. Equally, they stand as rea­sons why “The Tar­tan Tor­nado”, and

those back­ing him, would have been well within their rights to look else­where.

But here’s the se­cret: Josh Tay­lor is good. Not just good in the Bri­tish sense that he might one day step up and win a ver­sion of a world ti­tle, but good in the sense that he pos­sesses an un­typ­i­cal level of abil­ity and an all-round ma­tu­rity that be­lies his 27 years and lack of pro fights. Josh Tay­lor is so good, in fact, that he stopped Dave Ryan in just his sev­enth bout, to lift the Com­mon­wealth ti­tle, and then, in 2017, si­lenced Ohara Davies, a fel­low un­beaten prospect, be­fore be­com­ing the first to halt for­mer IBF world cham­pion Miguel Vazquez.

When you’re that good, the rules change: risks are taken, pa­tience is stalling.

Which is why Pos­tol, bet­tered only by Craw­ford, is deemed a log­i­cal next step for Tay­lor de­spite the fact Tay­lor has yet to go 10 rounds, let alone 12.

“He’s a great, great fighter,” said the Tay­lor. “He’s got great foot­work like all the top am­a­teurs have. He’s got the great moves – feet in and out – and is sharp with his right hand. He lines you up with that paw­ing jab and his right down the mid­dle.

“So, it’s a re­ally de­cent fight for me and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it. It could be a hard fight, and it’s up to me to make sure I’m on top of my game.”

Even then, it won’t be easy. Pos­tol, as well as the edge in ex­pe­ri­ence, is an inch taller than Tay­lor and has a four­inch reach ad­van­tage. What’s more, he wears th­ese perks well, box­ing tall be­hind a con­sis­tent jab, and is a big be­liever in straight punches and text­book com­bi­na­tions.

In­deed, Pos­tol is so well schooled in the basics that his sup­posed lack of one-punch power – just 12 knock­outs from his 29 wins – be­comes a moot point be­cause of his ac­cu­racy, tim­ing and abil­ity to chip away round af­ter round. It’s why he stops durable types. It’s why break­ing his rhythm is so im­por­tant.

For Tay­lor, a south­paw, the key to vic­tory lies in his abil­ity to not only dis­rupt Pos­tol’s rhythm but make the Ukrainian feel ev­ery one of his 34 years. Ul­ti­mately, that’s what this fight is all about. It’s about age and tim­ing. It’s about that cru­cial mo­ment when one fighter shows an age-re­lated weak­ness that al­lows a younger man to ex­ploit them for one night only. That’s what Tay­lor, seven years Pos­tol’s ju­nior, will be look­ing for. That’s what his ra­bid home fans will be hop­ing for.

Omi­nously, the tim­ing of this cross­roads fight seems less ob­vi­ously in favour of the younger man. One could, in fact, go so far as to say it tip-toes the fine line be­tween ge­nius and crazy, in terms of match­mak­ing, like no other Bri­tish fight in re­cent mem­ory. But if Josh Tay­lor is good enough to con­sider a chal­lenge like this, much less ac­cept and go through with it, he must surely be good enough to han­dle what hap­pens in the ring, and good enough, per­haps, to join Terence Craw­ford on the very short list of men who found a way to de­feat Vik­tor Pos­tol over 12 rounds.

On the un­der­card, an­other Scot­tish hot­shot, Lee Mcgre­gor, steps up in class against Good­luck Mrema from Tan­za­nia.

Mcgre­gor, known as “Light­ning” and just 21, has so far bl­itzed three jour­ney­men since turn­ing pro­fes­sional last Novem­ber. In Mrema, how­ever, he finds a 26-year-old who boasts not only a de­cent record – 22-2 (12) – but also pre­sum­ably some am­bi­tion.

Though there aren’t many wins of note on Mrema’s record, and his two losses both oc­curred out­side his home­land, he rep­re­sents a solid test for what is only Mcgre­gor’s fourth pro fight.

THE VER­DICT Tay­lor is the pick but as ba­nana skins go, they don’t get much slip­pier than Pos­tol.

Pho­tos: MIKEY WIL­LIAMS/TOP RANK

WEAR AND TEAR? Pos­tol back in 2016, as he pre­pared for the might of Craw­ford. Af­ter los­ing, he said Craw­ford was ‘too fast’

WATCH THE STEP: Pos­tol is Tay­lor’s most ac­com­plished op­po­nent by some dis­tance

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