Josh Taylor returns Friday in Edinburgh, Scotland

By Tom Gray

Unbeaten Scotsman Josh Taylor will make the first defense of his Commonwealth junior welterweight title against Warren Joubert this Friday at the Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Last time out, Taylor, who is trained by esteemed coach Shane McGuigan, accompanied stablemate Carl Frampton to Las Vegas ahead of his rematch with Leo Santa Cruz. The Edinburgh-based southpaw appeared on the undercard, and despite being disappointed with his performance in an eight-round points victory over Alfonso Olvera, he was happy to get a taste of the big fight atmosphere.

“Olvera was more awkward than he was tough,” said Taylor, who represented Team GB at the London Olympics in 2012. “On analyzing my performance, I thought I was below par. I know I can be 100 times better than that, which is why I was a little annoyed. People thought I was annoyed because I didn’t get the stoppage, but I don’t go out there looking for a knockout. I was just annoyed with the way I boxed.

“It was a brilliant experience though. I was in Vegas for about a month prior to the fight and we had a big villa. It had its own boxing gym, its own swimming pool and we had our own chef cooking all our food. Then I got to perform at the MGM Grand, which was just an amazing experience for me.”

Taylor (8-0, 7 knockouts) may not have performed at his best against Olvera, but he was scintillating in a fifth-round stoppage of Dave Ryan last October. Ryan, a vastly more experienced professional, couldn’t lay a glove on the Scotsman and absorbed a frightful beating from the start.

I sat next to Frampton at ringside and the former two-weight world titleholder actually predicted the fifth-round ending, as well as a big future for Taylor. The 26-year-old boxer-puncher, who claimed the vacant Commonwealth title that night, promises to excel once again in this homecoming defense.

“I’ve been training hard and I’m looking forward to it,” said Taylor. “There’s nothing like fighting in front of your friends and family. Every time you throw a punch the roof almost comes off. There’s no better feeling than that, so I’m looking forward to putting on a really good performance on Friday.

“I’ve only seen a couple of clips of Joubert on YouTube and off that his style looks similar to Dave Ryan: hands up, tight defense, likes to come forward. He might be a bit tougher (than Ryan) and a bit quicker too. I’m not in any hurry and I won’t be making mistakes. I’ll just take my time and see what he’s all about.”

Barry McGuigan, the former world featherweight champion and Hall-of-Famer, manages Taylor and his expectation are lofty to say the least. He can’t be blamed for that because at his best, Taylor has looked positively breath-taking.

“All going well, we’ll be looking for the European title (currently held Anthony Yigit) at 140 pounds,” said McGuigan when asked what the plans are for the immediate future.

“Josh is the Commonwealth champion, so we’re looking at European and beyond. We’re obviously cognizant of what is going on with (WBA junior welterweight titleholder) Ricky Burns and (IBF junior welterweight titleholder) Julius Indongo (who fight in Glasgow, Scotland, on April 15). I truly believe that if Josh wins in style on Friday, then we will be breathing down the necks of the European and world titleholders.”

Despite having a confident persona, Taylor is a modest and down to earth athlete. He’s not in the habit of calling out fighters and habitually lets his fists do the talking. Joubert, who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, is guaranteed a warm Scottish welcome. It’s just likely to be way too warm for comfort.

“I’m going to be very sharp and very fast,” promised Taylor. “It’ll definitely be a win for me. I don’t know how it’s going to come. As long as I get the ‘W’, that’s all that matters.”

Taylor vs. Joubert will air on Spike TV, a free-to-air channel, in the U.K. Spike TV is available via Freeview (Channel 31), FreeSat (Channel 141), Sky (Channel 160), Virgin Media (Channel 154), BT TV (Channel 31) and Talk (Channel 31). Tickets, available from the Meadowbank Stadium, are priced at £40, £60 and £100 VIP.

Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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