Tornado warning

Shaun Brown
13/08/2016 3:40pm

A Tornado from Scotland - backed by a Cyclone from Ireland - is looking to tear a hole through the British light-welterweight division.

Josh Taylor (6-0, 6 KOs), nicknamed “The Tartan Tornado”, has had only six pro bouts (all wins inside two rounds) but the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and his team at Cyclone Promotions are looking to surge ahead in the next 12 months, with titles in mind and a second Cyclone promotion in Scotland planned.

Taylor, 25, is chomping at the bit for a step up, and would have no hesitation in tackling British super lightweight champion Tyrone Nurse at this fledgling stage of his professional career.

“If I got told tomorrow I was fighting for the British title in 12 weeks’ time I’d take it. I’d be fully confident of winning it. I feel just now in my career I’m taking a slight backward step opponents wise. I feel I’m ready to go for titles now,” Taylor told Boxing Monthly before visiting his old stomping ground the Lochend Amateur Boxing Club. 

Taylor's last fight was his second outing in America. Taylor was amongst the concrete jungle of Brooklyn, New York last month when forcing Evincii Dixon to retire in the second round of their fight. A night which saw Taylor's team-mate Carl Frampton become a two-weight world champion.

Taylor made his pro debut at El Paso, Texas last July and recalled bumping into one of the sport's larger-than-life characters when he arrived.

“I got over there and the first person I seen was Don King, with his flags and all his ‘Only in America’ and all that,” Taylor laughed.

“I saw [Julio Cesar] Chavez Sr. and we bumped into [Leo] Santa Cruz and [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr. I was like a wee groupie with my phone getting photos with all these legends.

“{Juan Manuel] Marquez’s trainer Nacho Beristain, was in my corner for my fight as a cutman, and he was praising my performance and thinks I could go on to be a world champion. It was awesome. My first pro fight, and having a man like that say that to you, was really uplifting. It was a great experience. The hot weather as well, getting to train in that. It was brilliant. I loved every minute of it.”

Taylor is, in a sense, following the footsteps of his fellow Edinburgh native Ken Buchanan, who boxed in the US eight times - including six New York appearances - between 1970 and 1973.

A Scottish champion of more recent vintage, Ricky Burns, has just become the nation's first three-weight world champion.

“That’s a massive achievement in itself, and something that he’ll be greatly remembered for, and he’ll take that to the grave with him,” Taylor said.

“That’ll be the happiest and proudest moment of his career, probably, apart from winning his first world title. I think it’s a great achievement. If I can achieve anything like that, I’ll be a really happy man. Hats off to him and massive respect to him. It inspires myself to achieve something like that as well.”

Taylor seems to find it hard to believe how far he has come since his days as a former junior taekwondo champion. It wasn’t until he was 15 years old that Taylor found boxing, after he and a couple of friends went to a gym to get fit.

Taekwondo was chosen by his parents as a way of discipline for Taylor, and a way to keep him off the streets.

Taylor confessed to “always having a liked wee fight” in his younger days. 

“As I got a bit older, and at school, I always found myself in fights just because I was the wee man. Not because I was in trouble or anything like that. Somebody seemed to be always trying to pick on me. I never backed away from having a fight. I found fighting natural.”

It didn’t take long for Taylor to adapt from taekwondo to boxing, despite nearly landing a head-kick in his first sparring session.

“[The other boxer] came and attacked me," Taylor recalled. "I almost took his head off with a spinning kick, but luckily I never actually kicked him. I thought ‘Oh right I can’t do that.’ So it took me a couple of sparring sessions [to adjust]. It felt natural for me to lift my legs when [sparmates] were coming in, but that soon dwindled away.”

What followed was a stellar amateur career which included a bronze medal at the 2008 Youth Commonwealth Games, a silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, qualification for the 2012 Olympic Games in London and culminated in his finest moment as an amateur boxer - winning gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“Winning in front of 10,000 people at the [Glasgow] Hydro and then blasting out the ‘Flower of Scotland’ in front of them all. That was a dream come true,” Taylor said.

After Commonwealth glory, Taylor found it an easy decision to turn professional with Cyclone Promotions, despite being offered what he described as a great deal from MGM Marbella.

Taylor was looking for a trainer who could give him a large amount of one-to-one time. With the backing of Barry McGuigan, and the stewardship of his son Shane, Taylor has been loving life with Cyclone since day one.

“I was on the way down to the boxing writers' dinner [in 2015], and my phone goes and it was Barry." Taylor said. "He wanted to meet up and talk about turning pro. I went down straight away. The package they offered was brilliant, and they had Shane looking after my nutrition, weight and strength. Everything was getting taken care of. It was an easy choice to make. I think I’ve made the right choice.”

Of trainer Shane, Taylor said: “He’s brilliant. “He’s only 27, but he’s got the knowledge of a man that’s been amongst the game for 30-40 years. His tactics are always spot on. His training’s brilliant, and it’s different every day. He’ll focus on something different for a few weeks and develop it. 

“He’s young and fit, so he can keep up with you as well. He can show you a few things. He totally lives and breathes boxing. He’s 24/7 100 per cent boxing. That’s all he does. That’s a thing you’re looking for in a coach, one that totally loves the sport as well.”

Barry McGuigan believes Taylor will be the poster boy for the new generation of Scottish boxers. The dream for Taylor is to headline a show at Edinburgh Castle, or Easter Road, the home of Hibernian Football Club – the green half of the city that Taylor supports as opposed to the maroon side of Heart of Midlothian.

“The only thing is with Edinburgh, the Hibs-Hearts thing, it could divide fans," Taylor said. "So I would probably say fighting at Edinburgh Castle is the dream. If I could get it at Easter Road it would be absolutely brilliant. But Edinburgh Castle would be something special, it would be something for the history books.”