Josh Taylor Faces Toughest Test Yet On Magnificent Glasgow Bill

May 16, 2019

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Golf has its place in the pantheon of pastimes but every now and again it breaks away from the greens and fairways to feature in the tales of other sports.

Whilst playing for Liverpool, John Arne Riise felt the full force of an iron from Craig Bellamy over a karaoke disagreement. In another misuse of equipment Scotland’s finest boxing prospect since Ricky Burns nearly didn’t get his career off the ground after being accidentally clobbered by a sand-wedge wielding cousin.

Josh Taylor fights for the IBF super-lightweight title on Saturday in Glasgow but according to doctors, he was “centimetres from paralysis” when as a nine-year-old he suffered a serious head injury. “Boxing’s OK but golf’s too dangerous”, seems like an odd stance but it’s one that has Taylor on the edge of world glory and impending superstardom.

The World Boxing Super Series comes to Scotland’s second city this weekend as the 140lb competition reaches the semi-final. The man blocking Taylor’s route to a trophy is fearsome Belarusian, Ivan “The Beast” Baranchyk and it looks like being the popular Scot’s toughest fight to date.

A Real 50-50 Fight

It is something of a surprise that this fight is even happening after Baranchyk appeared to leave the WBSS due to late payments and concerns about venue choices favouring Taylor. The Baranchyk camp went as far as to describe the WBSS’s behaviour as “bush league” and with “The Beast” holding the belt, it was a tricky time for the Sauerland promotional team.

Luckily for fans, the stumbling blocks have been removed and the capacity crowd at the SSE Hydro could well be treated to an all-out war.

Josh Taylor is truly one of the British boxing’s brightest stars but in Ivan Baranchyk he faces an enormous challenge. So far in an impressive career, Taylor has largely had things his own way and much of that is down to his own prodigious talent. However, Baranchyk poses questions that Taylor and his coach Shane McGuigan have never before had to answer.

The champion is a relentless, hard-hitting, pressure fighter. He won’t give Taylor a moment’s peace and like the Scot he can fight effectively at range and up close. Some of Baranchyk’s swarming stoppage victories are reminiscent of a peak Ricky Hatton but he also has one punch KO power. Any loss of concentration from Taylor will be punished severely.

In spite of the threat posed by the Belarusian, Saturday is very much a two-way street. Josh Taylor is tall for the weight and boxes beautifully. His boxing brain belies ferocious strength and he regularly bullies opponents into a position from which he can take them out with either hand.

Like Baranchyk, Taylor is a supreme finisher and will go to the well again and again to finish his foes. His highly anticipated fight with Ohara Davies was a superb example of this. Through superior physicality and skill, he simply broke Davies’ heart and made him quit, a rarity in a world this macho.

Saturday is a real 50/50 contest and whoever wins will have earned it in the hardest of ways. It is tempting to pick Taylor simply because he has arguably faced tougher opponents so far in his career. However, if he does win it might simply because his army of fans swaying the judges in the closest of close encounters.

A Magnificent Bill

As if that fight wasn’t enough to get excited about, the Glasgow crowd get to see another of boxing’s current entertainers in the form of Naoya Inoue and his opponent Manny Rodriguez. Inoue is a one-man career-wrecking epidemic who seems to be able to knock opponents out at will.

Getting the appropriately monikered “Monster” to Scotland is something of a coup for the WBSS, even if it does owe more than a little to their already mentioned financial issues. Word is that cost of staging an altogether different show back in Japan might have stretched resources beyond breaking point.

This is only the second time that Inoue has fought outside of his native Japan and he will receive a rapturous welcome from the local fans. This is thanks to a well-deserved and fearsome reputation. His last two fights have ended in first-round stoppages and he hasn’t been the distance for over three years.

British fans will know him best for his recent annihilation of fan-favourite and exceptional talent, Jamie McDonnell. McDonnell had fought and beaten some of the best in the world and Inoue went through him like a dose of something horrific.

There aren’t many people who think that Rodriguez will fare any better, but he has the skills and perhaps power to give Inoue something to think about. It would take a brave and possibly foolish person to pick against the Japanese superstar, but British fans should make the most of seeing him in the flesh as they might never get another opportunity.

In Other News

  • Glasgow isn’t the only place to watch boxing this weekend. Billy Joe Saunders is fighting Shefat Isufi at Stevenage FC’s Lamex Stadium for the vacant WBO super-middleweight belt. Saunders has recently been more famous for activities outside the ring of late, so a change of focus is a welcome distraction as he looks to line up more high profile fights in the future.
  • WBC heavyweight king Deontay Wilder will face Dominic Breazeale in New York in the early hours of Sunday morning. This fight is taking place under a dark cloud after Wilder’s comments regarding killing an opponent in the ring. Breazeale was beaten by Anthony Joshua inside seven rounds so if nothing else it will serve as something of a yardstick for a fractured division.

Author: George Ogier

George has been writing about boxing and other sports for over seven years. He has written for various sites including The Mirror, Joe and Boxing Scene. He also runs his own social media management company from West Oxfordshire. When not feverishly staring at his laptop he likes to be ultimately disappointed by Tottenham Hotspur.

Twitter @george_ogier

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