Josh Taylor expects ‘nastiness’ towards Jose Ramirez ahead of chance at immortalityMay 20, 2021
It is a moment that Josh Taylor will never forget after glancing up during a stroll after landing in Las Vegas. With his face and name plastered over an enormous billboard outside Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the stature of this Saturday’s historic fight became apparent.
The Prestonpans southpaw (17-0) is aiming to become the first British fighter to hold all four world titles in one weight division when he clashes with undefeated American Jose Ramirez (26-0).
The Scot’s rapid rise through the professional ranks now sees him stand on the brink of becoming the undisputed world champion after just 18 fights, with the culmination of his journey initially difficult to process after soaking up the atmosphere under the famous bright lights.
“It was pretty cool the first time I saw my face up on the billboard outside the hotel,” Taylor admits. “It was a pinch me moment.
“All the hard work, dedication and dreams had come true. It has come to fruition but the dream hasn’t finished yet. I still have to go in there on Saturday and do the job. I quickly snapped back out of it. But it was pretty damn cool to see my name up in the big lights in Las Vegas.
“It’s a dream come true. It’s a very good feeling knowing all my hard work, dedication and sacrifice has paid off. I’ve reached this level in my career and it’s good to see it. It was good for the first 10 minutes but now that I’ve seen it a few times, I’m used to it now. I’m still very focused on what I still need to do.”
Taylor hopes to replicate his hero, Ken Buchanan, who captured undisputed status at lightweight in 1971. But despite the daunting stage that awaits him, in what will be just the seventh world title fight the sport has seen since 1988 with all four world titles on the line, a calm demeanour covers the 30-year-old’s face.
“I’m not getting blown away by the occasion,” Taylor maintains with real conviction to his words, now just days out from the fight. “Because I’ve been around this sort of thing many times. I’ve been involved with Carl Frampton, David Haye and George Groves for big fights so I’m not fazed by the big stage.
“I’ve also been involved on the big stage myself at the Olympics, two Commonwealth Games and things like that, world title fights. I’m just enjoying the whole experience, soaking it all up, making sure that I enjoy every single minute of it.”
Amid the evident pride and amicable build-up between both fighters, there is the inevitable sense of hostility beneath the surface. The post-Covid world has deprived both fighters of the opportunity to invade each other’s space in the build-up. It is usually moments like these that can often light the fuse and spark a grudge to harness once that first bell rings.
But while Taylor is at ease with the tranquility that currently lingers in the humid Nevada air for now, he admits the mask may slip during the final hours before both men touch gloves.
“The nastiness will come,” Taylor promises. “There’s still plenty of time. I’ve not seen Ramirez yet. I’m not going to be snarling at him through a computer screen.
“There’s plenty of time to go and see Ramirez and get into fight mode. I’m looking forward to seeing him and seeing him at the weigh in.
“I’m looking forward to sizing him up and we might get a bite out of him. We will see what he’s like. There’s plenty of time for me to get in the fight zone. I’m not wasting my energy for now, I’m keeping it for when it is needed.”
Ramirez vs Taylor will stream live and exclusively in the UK on FITE for £9.99. Live coverage begins at 1.30am UK time.
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