There's been some online chatter regarding undisputed junior welterweight champion, Josh Taylor, who returns to Glasgow, Scotland, to face his mandatory challenger, Jack Catterall, as to why there isn't a bigger buzz for this event and why he isn't a garnering more mainstream attention in the UK.
There's no denying the credentials of Taylor, who is one of the very best boxers in the sport. While many fans and pundits have a top 10 pound-for-pound list, it says here that the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Oleksandr Usyk, Terence Crawford, Naoyo Inoue and Taylor have separated themselves from the pack.
It's those five and everyone else.
courtesy of Mikey Williams/Top Rank
But the fact of the matter is that since capturing the World Boxing Super Series title after his memorable 12 round scrap with Regis Prograis in 2019, this will be just his third outing as he faces Catterall on Saturday. In both 2020 and 2021, Taylor performed just once. (And yes, we are well aware of Covid, but the likes of Alvarez fought four times in an 11 month stretch last year on his way to consolidating the 168-pound class).
Out of sight, out of mind.
This isn't rocket science, folks. Unless you are the heavyweight champion of the world, it's almost impossible to stay relevant with long bouts of inactivity. You want to be a major player? Well, you've got to get off the sidelines.
'the Tartan Tornado' has been more or less an intermittent thunder shower the past few years.
To be fair, this obligation versus Catterall was supposed to have been fulfilled in December but Taylor had a bum knee.
courtesy of Mikey Williams/Top Rank
But this isn't to diminish his talents, or his vast achievements. Not only did he capture the Muhammad Ali Trophy by defeating Prograis, last May he out-pointed Jose Ramirez to become the undisputed champion at 140. There isn't many fights on his resume'(currently Taylor is 18-0 with 13 KOs), but this is a case of quality over quantity.
Catterall is his sixth consecutive opponent that comes into a contest against Taylor with an unblemished mark. His last six foes have come in with a combined record of 136-1. There aren't a lot of empty calories in this diet.
Now, he makes his homecoming to the OVO Hydro, where a sell-out crowd is being touted.
"Glasgow, the people of Glasgow, the people of Scotland, it's been my home since the Commonwealth Games. I get a great reception every time I'm here. The belts are staying here. There's no defeating me at the Hydro on Saturday,'' said Taylor.
It's not clear just how long he will stay as a junior welterweight, after all, he has just cleaned out the division. Also at age 31, it's believed that he's having some difficulty in making the 140 pound limit with his tall, angular 5'10 frame. Since beginning his career in the summer of 2015, he has competed solely in this weight class.
Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank, said during his appearance on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' on Triller, "assuming he wins, he has talked to me about the possibility of going up to welterweight. One of the guys he's mentioned is (Terence) Crawford. That would be an interesting fight, particularly for the UK."
The veteran promoter believes that as long as both parties are willing to be reasonable with their financial demands for such a pairing, that the ongoing litigation between Crawford and Top Rank would be a non-issue.
Taylor is a knifing southpaw, one that is equally adept at boxing from long range, but also not shy to muck-and-grind from in-close. He is a blend of grace and grit inside the ring. Taylor can be smooth as silk from the perimeter, and harsh as sandpaper inside the pocket.
He also doesn't lack for confidence.
"I'm sharp, I'm fast, I'm quick. I can't wait to get in there and dismantle him in every single department of the game. I can't wait to get in there and put on a real top performance Saturday,'' he stated. "A real homecoming, first time I've been here in a couple of years now. I'm back home. The fans have been starving for a big night for a couple of years, and I'm determined to put on a good show, keep the belts here, and keep bringing big boxing back to Scotland."
Going back to his relative lack of popularity, while he is certainly a hero in Scotland, you do wonder why he isn't a bigger name overall in the UK(where boxing is still very much a major sport). Recently Sky Sports made a deal with Top Rank to distribute their content to this part of the world. They produced a 'Gloves Off' episode for this fight which seems to have been well-received.
Top Rank did it's part by producing their own mini-doc on Taylor ('the Tartan Tornado'):
Surely this helps -- it certainly can't hurt -- but it says here that nothing markets a boxer than....get this, actually fighting consistently. For Taylor it could be the difference between being merely a highly accomplished boxer, and a true star.
When asked about this, Arum surmised, "He's the kind of guy that is content with maybe fighting twice a year, rather than three, four times. See, you understand these fighters are all young, and to fight four times a year sounds great, but it means giving up a lot of their life during the fun period of their lives when they're in their 20's, and so forth.
"Some of them don't want to do it."
In addition to the Taylor-Catterall card on ESPN+ , Showtime has a card later that night featuring Chris Colbert from Las Vegas. Then on Sunday, DAZN has Lawrence Okolie's defense of his WBO cruiserweight title.....Probellum announced a ''strategic partnership'' with Lou DiBella, while Golden Boy Promotions has announced partnership with Philip Button, formerly of the William Morris Agency....The WBO has ordered negotiations between middleweights Jaime Munguia and Janibek Alimkhanuly for their interim title....A bout between welterweights Alexis Rocha and Blair 'the Flair' Cobbs is being brandied about for the March 19 card at the Galen Center at USC that features Vergil Ortiz Jr....It's been frigid here in Southern California, I mean, low 60's. BRRRRRR....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....