John Dennen speaks to trainer Ben Davison about what makes world super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor unique
IT’S his intensity that sets Josh Taylor apart. There was an indication of that at the weigh in ahead of his fight with Jack Catterall in Glasgow. The world super-lightweight champion went head to head with his challenger Catterall, be physically, and the two had to prised apart by security.
In great shape, both made weight, Taylor at 140lbs, Catterall 139lbs.
Ben Davison, Taylor’s coach, tailed off his training camp to make sure Josh will be firing on all cylinders on Saturday night at the Hydro.
“Just to let Josh’s body recover, which has been the right decision. Because he’s flying now, he feels a million dollars and we just keep resting him, letting him recover, take the fatigue off his body so that’s he’s ready and raring to go,” he explained. “At the end of a training camp fatigue masks fitness. So what a lot of fighters do is when they’re fatigued, they’re tired and they think, ‘I’m not fit enough.’ It’s not that. Often it’s probably they’re under fatigue so, often, if anything you take your foot off the gas, you take the fatigue off the body, it’s like they’ve got no brakes holding them. That’s where Josh is.
“He’s feeling good, ready to rock and roll. All the fatigue’s been taken off his body, that’s what you want and that’s how you peak somebody.”
Taylor is someone who likes to spar hard. “Josh likes to spar for a long period of time and do a lot of rounds, a lot more than I would have my other fighters do. But it’s something he feels benefits him and an approach he likes to take,” Davison told Boxing News. “You don’t want to make too many adjustments to their preparation because all of a sudden a big change is not going to do them any good.”
Davison has trained other elite champions, like Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders. “They’re all very different. They’ve all got their attributes, strengths and weaknesses like anybody. Josh is extremely, extremely humble, a really nice lad. I would say he’s more intense than the likes of Billy Joe and Tyson and Devin [Haney], in terms of intensity. His natural tempo is slightly higher,” Davison says. “But of course all of those are super talented guys.”
He can confirm that the Scotsman is a unique presence in training camp. “Josh is someone who just wants to be intense all the time. So sometimes you find yourself repeating yourself over and over,” Ben said. “I always say to him next time you’ll listen the first time. He goes to me, ‘My dad always says that.’
“I think he enjoys being intense.”
He acknowledges Taylor is a clear favor against Catterall. “I’ve had this with Tyson as well, Billy Joe funnily enough as well. When they’re the heavy favourite it brings a different type of pressure. It’s very, very different. Because when you’re going into a 50-50 fight, it’s a different type of pressure. When you’re going in as the heavy favorite there’s such an expectation that you can end up forcing things and not being your absolute self because you’re trying to live up to these often unrealistic expectations,” the trainer said.
That’s something Catterall could try to take advantage of. “Jack can punch, I think he punches harder than his record suggests. I think they’re banking on Josh being a bit impatient and the crowd getting to him, him being too eager to impress and rushing in with a sloppy transition and them trying to time him,” Ben explained. “We’ve been looking at ironing Josh’s game out, you didn’t see as much of that against [Jose] Ramirez.
“It’s for Josh not to put those opportunities, scenarios that they’ve been working on in the gym on a plate for him.”
“But that pressure is what creates a good performance,” Davison added. “That’s what’s going to make him perform on the night and keep him switched on and keep him respecting Jack in his mind. So it’s important towards his performance that he has that pressure.”
Josh Taylor may be the world champion now but his trainer points out, “It’s one job getting there, it’s another job holding on to it.
“He’s now the top dog that everybody’s preparing for and everybody’s going above and beyond to prepare for. Tough tasks only get tough.”