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Taylor v Catterall
The Josh Taylor-Jack Catterall roadshow hit London today with a press conference to launch their 26 February 2022 showdown in Glasgow’s OVO Hydro Arena for the undisputed super-lightweight championship of the world.
The presser followed hot on the heels of yesterday’s in Edinburgh, Scotland (Taylor’s home city) although he’ll proudly say he’s a Prestonpans man ! Catterall from Chorley, Lancashire will make this a classic Scotland v England encounter, which is fuelled by centuries of history and sporting confrontation.
The champion Taylor (18-0, 13 KO’s) will be defending his newly won array of 10st (140lb) sanctioning belts and The Ring magazine title against the undefeated Catterall (26-0, 13 KO’s). The English challenger has held WBO world mandatory contender status for some time and allowed Taylor to add the WBC & WBO titles to his earlier gained IBF & WBA straps, before securing his shot. Taylor is one of only a handful of undisputed champions in world boxing.
Similar to yesterday’s conference mutual respect was shown by both competitors early on the dais, and both were confident of an outcome in their favour.
Catterall said he gives Taylor “a lot of respect, but that goes out the window in February”. He continued “I think I’ve been denied the opportunities…I now have the opportunity to catapult myself onto the world stage”.
Taylor when questioned, replied “I believe I’m one of the best fighters on the planet” – (something endorsed by being The Ring magazine’s #5 pound-for-pounder), and continued “I believe I’m coming into my prime now…I feel almost unbeatable”.
On the task ahead Taylor further explained “It’s my job and duty to make sure I do everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t get these belts…I believe on the night he’s not getting anywhere near me”.
Caterall’s respected head trainer Nigel Travis later added “Preparation is gonna be the key to all this…This is a fight that Britain deserves, England v Scotland”. In response, equally respected Ben Davison replied from the Taylor camp saying “This is a legacy defining fight for Josh…we have real motivation to make this a real showcase performance…in front of a Scottish crowd”.
The contest pits an exceptional undefeated champion against an undefeated contender. Both arguably in their prime.
Taylor is very cautious not to look ahead of this contest, and substantiated by saying “When you overlook an opponent, the worst happens”. Big things are planned and expected from the slick Scottish southpaw, but first he must take care of domestic business.
As the questions in the presser were coming to a close, things got heated when Catterall told Adam Smith (Sky Sports Head of Boxing Development), he saw “several ways” to beat Taylor. The Scot snapped back “How ? …in what way ?”. The challenger responded “By turning up and being Jack Catterall. I’ll get in there and punch (his) head in!”. The champion smirked immediately, responded in the negative, and finished by shaking his head and laughed saying “Go back to bed”.
A tense, but cordial head to head then followed with the belts.
When Taylor was later asked by The Undisputed in a one-on-one what he needs to do to become the greatest Scottish fighter of all time ? He cautiously replied “That’s a tough one” and carefully reminded me of some of the great champions from north of the border (Buchanan, Ricky Burns et al). His parting words were though, to “win titles in two divisions”.
If the undefeated champion can take care of business in February, great fighters and fights await to enable him to achieve that, by moving up to join the 10st,7lbs (147lb) welterweights. That would appear his long term goal.
When we questioned Catterall on his approach to the fight and what he presented that Taylor had not seen before, he replied “Be me, he’s never boxed me and I will be a totally different threat to anything he’s ever faced”. It promises to be an excellent contrast of styles and experience, with the champion having fought at world level numerous times in recent years to the challenger’s relative inexperience, but the Lancashire man is an improving fighter and Taylor will know that and will need to prepare diligently.
The contest is being promoted by the new and excellent BOXXER franchise, in association with Top Rank Inc. and Sky Sports. The card will be broadcast on Sky Sports in the UK and ESPN+ in the USA. Both fighters now step up their training camps and will home in on the late February date. One to watch out for.