Josh Taylor driven to remove all doubts he is world's best

By Keir MurrayBBC Scotland
Josh Taylor v Regis Prograis: Scot spurred on by atmosphere

Sitting in his changing room inside London's O2 Arena, spent and exhilarated, Josh Taylor held a towel to his right eye.

He dabbed gingerly at the wound, checking for blood. He had to lift the swollen clump of tissue to see out of it.

Taylor, 28, had just won a majority decision against Regis Prograis to lift the enormous Muhammad Ali trophy, the reward for winning the World Boxing Super Series super-lightweight final.

It was hard to miss the Ali trophy, a creation from the hand of the late Silvio Gazzaniga, sculptor of the Fifa World Cup trophy.

And in defeating 30-year-old Prograis, Taylor had added the American's WBA title to the IBF super-lightweight belt he had secured with his victory against Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk in Glasgow in May.

But there was one prize that seemed to matter most to Taylor - the "Rocky" belt, the one awarded by boxing bible The Ring Magazine for the best fighter in a weight division.

During the media conference, he shouted out his delight at holding it, with its red, white and blue ribbons and shiny brass. In his changing room, he didn't want to let it go.

Despite having only fought 16 times as a pro since winning Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow in 2014, not many are viewing Taylor as anything other than the best 140lb boxer in the world today.

After all, Prograis and Taylor were one and two in the rankings going in to Saturday's fight.

However, one man in Avenal, California might beg to differ: Jose Ramirez, 27, holder of the WBO and WBC versions of the super-lightweight title.

Taylor is in no mood for his to be a qualified success.

Scotland's undisputed world champions
If Taylor can set up a bout with Jose Ramirez, he will have the chance to put beyond any doubt that he is the best 10st fighter in the world

"I'd like to be the only champion in the division," he said, back in his parents' home in Prestonpans on Monday, his eye now stitched and with some vision returning.

"That's not been done in Scotland since Ken Buchanan in 1971. He was the last undisputed champion.

"I've got a bit of pulling power now to say that I would like to get that fight.

"I think Jose Ramirez would like that fight as well because it's probably one of the biggest fights in boxing at the minute.

"He is calling himself the best in the division and I believe I am the best in the division, but I'd like to prove that I am the number one and have all the belts and leave no doubts.

"I'd love to bring the belts back and show Kenny them."

Taylor's trainer Shane McGuigan quipped at the post-fight media conference that his fighter was the "The O Thief", a reference to the disappearance of the hitherto blemish-free records of Ryan Martin "22 and O" [22 wins and 0 defeats], Baranchyk "19 and O" and Prograis "24 and O".

These were fighters who all tasted defeat for the first time as a pro when they faced the Scottish southpaw.

Josh Taylor: The Ring Magazine's "Rocky belt" is the pick of the bunch

Ramirez has won all 25 of his bouts, 17 of them by knockout. That's another "O" for "The O Thief" to target.

For Tom Gray, associate editor of The Ring Magazine, there is simply no debate around Taylor's standing. He is, without question, the best 10st fighter in the world.

Gray told BBC Scotland: "The Ring belt represents the best fighter in the division.

"The belt is unanimously respected by the fighters. It is something extra special. The Ring Magazine was founded in 1922. There were only eight divisions at that time. Jack Dempsey was the first champion and so you have all that history from then until now.

"Junior welterweight [super-lightweight] is a relatively new division, beginning in 1962. Previous holders of The Ring Magazine belt at that weight include Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao. Taylor becomes the 17th junior welterweight champion."

Gray lists the five Scottish world champions who were recognised as being undisputedly the best in the world - Benny Lynch, Jackie Paterson, Walter McGowan, Ken Buchanan and Jim Watt.

"Josh Taylor is the sixth," argues Gray.

"When WBA lightweight champion Buchanan become undisputed champion in February 1971, he added the WBC belt by beating Ruben Navarro.

"Taylor just so happens to be living in an era where he has to beat more people to be the unified, undisputed champion.

"His win over Prograis definitely goes down as one of the best Scottish boxing moments of all time.

"It may not eclipse Buchanan outpointing Ismael Laguna in 1970 for the WBA title, perhaps because you can look back at that with a sense of nostalgia, plus Laguna is now in the Hall of Fame.

"But I predict Regis Prograis will go on to great things and that will make Josh Taylor's feat all the better."

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