MIND THE GAP
Taylor impresses against Postol, but the scoring causes debate
RISK versus reward was the conundrum facing Cyclone Promotions chief Barry Mcguigan as he weighed up whether to pitch Josh Taylor in against Viktor Postol.
Should Taylor see off the former WBC super-lightweight champion in a final eliminator to decide who would next take on the current holder of the strap, Jose Ramirez, then “The Tartan Tornado” would be looking at a maiden global title shot just 13 contests into his pro career.
Lose, however, and the momentum built up after eye-catching wins over Ohara Davies, Miguel Vazquez and Winston Campos might stall, leaving the Prestonpans southpaw in danger of missing his big chance. Thankfully for Mcguigan, his gamble paid off, as his man came through a gritty contest at the SSE Hydro to claim a deserved unanimous points victory and leave himself on the verge of fulfilling his boyhood dream.
It was not always straightforward. Taylor’s attention to detail was slack in the early stages, forcing Mcguigan to warn just four rounds in: “Josh, you’re losing this”.
The judges, though, did not share the manager’s view. In the end, they barely gave Postol a round, as cruel assessments of the visitor’s efforts threatened to steal the headlines. But, crucially, the right man won as the Scot – back in the venue where he had won Commonwealth Games gold four years earlier – clinched a 118-110 (Victor Loughlin), 117-110 (Fernando Barbosa) and 119-108 (Eddie
Mcguigan conceded the scorecards were three or four rounds too generous.
But what was undeniable was the impressive manner in which Taylor, 27, manufactured the openings which guaranteed his biggest win to date. With Postol, 34, living up to his “Iceman” moniker as he refused to be ruffled even after eating a couple of big shots early doors, it was vital Taylor also kept his cool. Both were cut
The Edinburgh-born fighter did just that as he worked the Ukrainian’s body over and over, eventually dragging down his defences before landing a thudding left hook which sent Postol tumbling backwards midway through the 10th. Although up in time to beat the count, Postol – whose only previous defeat in 30 pro outings had come against pound-forpound star Terence Crawford – suddenly found himself short on answers, as Taylor strolled through the final stages of a bout refereed by Ian John Lewis.
A punch-perfect display? No, but certainly encouraging enough to suggest Mcguigan is right to place so much faith in his stable leader. “The most important thing is Josh won on a bad night,” Barry declared. “He beat one of the best fighters on a bad night. He had to make adjustments. Very few fighters, even the very best fighters, can make adjustments in a fight when they have had a couple of bad rounds. He should be over the moon with the way he handled himself.
“Can he become a UK or even a world star? Without a doubt, but it takes time for that to happen. You can’t do it in 13 fights, but you can do it a lot quicker [than normal] if you take risks, which we have taken throughout his career. This was a test against Postol and he stood up to it. He proved he is the quality kid.
“I always believed he is, and we’re now ready to go on and fight for the world title.”
Taylor added: “I feel I’m on the verge of fulfilling my dream and fighting for a world title. That was playing on my mind a little bit before the fight.
“I didn’t feel any pressure, but it was playing in the back of my head that if I won, I’d be fighting for a world title. However, I felt I dealt with that well. It was a little bit of a belowpar performance. I started very poorly in terms of defence and switched off too much. But I adapted and I definitely think I can be 20 or 30 per cent sharper. I’m happy enough, though, and the next one will be the big one.”
‘WE HAVE TAKEN RISKS IN HIS CAREER AND NOW HE’S READY FOR A WORLD TITLE’
³ On the undercard, Congolese Martin Bakole made short work of DL Jones in a scheduled 10-rounder. The African giant – now based in Airdrie – needed barely a minute to get rid of his Isle of Sheppey opponent.
Jones appeared to misread Bakole’s languid style and paid a heavy price. He found himself on the floor within the first 15 seconds as he was caught with a shot from nowhere. Although he was up smartly, it wasn’t long before he was sat back down as Bakole smothered him with another flurry of clubbing fists to the temple. Referee Michael Alexander did the sensible thing by waving the fight off after just 62 seconds.
“Lightning” Lee Mcgregor is another red-hot prospect who Mcguigan has high hopes for. The Edinburgh fighter squared up to Tanzanian Goodluck Mrema over 10.
Mcgregor was happy to go in close as he sought to press his size advantage, and he got his reward in the fourth round as he rocked Mrema with a big left. With the African back-pedalling, Mcgregor went on the chase before slamming his opponent to the floor with a vicious left hook, leaving referee Alexander with no option but to halt the contest at 2-18.
There was another blink-and-you’llmiss-it clash as Mcgregor’s capital compatriot, Tommy Philbin, dismissed Dominik Landgraf inside a round (set for six). Philbin marched into the ring to the strains of Sunshine on Leith by The Proclaimers, but it was his Czech rival who was filled with “sorrow, sorrow...” as he crumpled early doors. Philbin unleashed a couple of crunching shots downstairs which immediately forced Landgraf to the deck. He was up at ‘eight’ but a left hook brought another quick-fire knockdown, with referee John Mcguire stopping it after just 1-49.
Northampton’s Chantelle Cameron opened the night’s action against Argentine Natalia Aguirre and set the tone with a terrific display. Cameron was eager to get going and was up off her stool a good 10 seconds before her opponent as the third round got underway. Her confidence proved well founded as Aguirre was downed near the end of the session by a flashing right hand to the top of the forehead. Aguirre survived that setback but was treated like a punch bag for the next three rounds. “Listen, don’t hold,” bellowed referee Howard Foster as the South American desperately searched for a way, any way, to survive. She was eventually put out of her misery at 1-31 in the sixth as another sustained attack sent her bundling over. It had been set for 10-twos. There was a debut win for Glenrothes’ Eftychia Kathapouli, as the former Scottish amateur champion opened up her professional account with a points win over Prague’s Domenika Novotna.
Referee Paul O’connor scored it 40-36 in favour of Kathapouli, although Novotna will feel hard done by that she did not pick up at least a round after a spirited display. The honour of providing the final warm-up act before Taylor took to the stage fell to Barrhead’s Gary Rae, as he faced up to Johnson Tellez.
Nicaraguan Tellez, based in Barcelona, cut a squat figure compared to his beanpole rival, and it was evident that Rae lacked the power to force a stoppage. However, he did enough to maintain the blemish-free start to his career as referee Kevin Mcintrye awarded him an eighth straight victory with a 60-54 points win.
THE VERDICT The margin of victory is debatable, but there’s no doubting that Taylor deserves his win.
SUBLIME SKILLS: The quality on display in Glasgow is exceptionally high
CELEBRATIONS: Taylor’s bruising victory could set up a shot at the full WBC title
CLOSE QUARTERS: Taylor [right] forces his way inside against Postol
SAYS IT ALL: Taylor shows his respect to Postol on Instagram [below] after the pair embrace following their bout
ON TARGET: Mcgregor cracks Mrema
TOO GOOD: Cameron swarms all over Aguirre