Josh Taylor believes he has a big psychological advantage over Ivan Baranchyk ahead of Saturday’s world title fight in Scotland.
The Scot challenges Belarussian Ivan Baranchyk for the IBF super lightweight title, with the winner progressing to face WBA champion Regis Prograis in the World Boxing Super Series final.
Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs), 28, is confident of securing a unification fight with American Prograis as he believes US-based Baranchyk (19-0, 12 KOs) initially considered pulling out of facing him and was not keen on travelling to make a defence at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow.
“Him pulling out was a possibility at one point but it didn’t bother me because I was still going to fight for the title whatever happened,” Taylor told ESPN. “That’s why I entered this tournament. It was hard for him to pull out because of the contract he signed before entering the tournament but he doesn’t want to come to Glasgow and fight me in a first defence.”
Scotland has produced world champions such as Ricky Burns (the nation’s only three-weight world champion), Alex Arthur, Scott Harrison, Jim Watt, Ken Buchanan, Walter McGowan and Benny Lynch.
But Taylor — known as the Tartan Tornado — insists he will not think about any of them for inspiration in the moments before his first world title shot.
“Not at all, nothing like that will be entering my mind,” said Taylor. “I will be solely focused on Baranchyk. I’ve been focused on this and becoming world champion for so long. I will be in tunnel vision when I walk to the ring, and I will really feed off the noise of the crowd.
“I thrive under the big lights and on the big occasion, it gives me an extra 10%. The crowd in Glasgow throw every punch with me and make you feel like King Kong. It can be quite hostile and Baranchyk is going to experience that.
“I’ve not actually watched him that much, but he looks strong and has a hard punch as he’s knocked out 12 from 19. He’s all-action and has an aggressive style, and that’s what I’m expecting on May 18.
“But I believe I’ve got the ability to beat him in all departments and we’ve got a rough guide plan on how we want to fight him.”
Taylor, from Edinburgh like Buchanan, who was top of the bill at Madison Square Garden in New York as world lightweight champion in the 1970s, trains at McGuigan’s Gym in Wandsworth, south London, alongside Luke Campbell, the lightweight contender.
Taylor and Campbell (20-2, 16 KOs), 31, from Hull in England, were on the same Great Britain boxing team at the 2012 Olympics. Taylor failed to win a medal, while Campbell claimed a gold and the pair once again work alongside each other with Shane McGuigan now as their trainer.
Campbell, who lost a split points decision to Jorge Linares for the WBA world lightweight title in September 2017, is set to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko, the pound-for-pound king, for the WBC world lightweight title later this year and Taylor says they are part of a new generation of British boxers hoping to replace the likes of other big names in the UK who have recently retired — David Haye, Tony Bellew, James DeGale and George Groves — or who have recently been beaten, like Amir Khan and Anthony Crolla.
Taylor added: “The next wave is coming through, the wave before had some great years but they are becoming a wee bit towards the end and it’s time for myself, Luke, Joe Cordina, Charlie Edwards and Callum Smith to step up.
“We were all on the same amateur team and we’re now getting the opportunities as professional. Anthony Joshua was also of course in the same team [Joshua won a super-heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 Olympics] and he is killing the game at the moment. He’s the face of boxing right now and it’s really good to see what he has gone on to achieve.”