Josh Taylor: Where does he rank among Scotland's boxing greats?

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland
Current WBA and IBF light welterweight world champion is the only boxer of the last 40 years to make Tommy Gilmour's top 10
The current WBA and IBF light welterweight world champion is the only boxer of the last 40 years to make Tommy Gilmour's top 10
Josh Taylor v Jose Ramirez
Venue: Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas Date: 22 May
Belts: IBF, WBA, WBO and WBC world light-welterweight titles
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

The biggest night of Josh Taylor's life is almost upon him - a mega fight in Vegas against Jose Ramirez for the title of king of the light-welterweight division.

A Scot versus an American, an undefeated man against an undefeated man. It's a contest to set the heart racing.

Taylor is already on the shortlist of great Scottish boxers, but where exactly on that list is he? The country is full of experts with deep knowledge of the fighting game but nobody will have as much experience of this world than Tommy Gilmour. His family has been steeped in it for a century. From bare-knuckle stuff in the dark ages to world title fights, the Gilmours have seen it all.

So, where does this man who has managed more fighters and viewed more bouts than he could possibly remember rank Taylor? Tommy's Top 10...

10. Josh Taylor

What? Surely Taylor has to be higher?

"There might be a case to move him up a space if he wins on Saturday, but I'd only move him to nine. I think he will win, incidentally. He can punch, he's resilient in adversity, he doesn't run out of steam. If he keeps going he might fly up this list in future years. He's the only Scottish fighter from the last 40 years to make it.

"I'm including guys here who fought their way through the halcyon days of the boxing world, who had dozens of fights all around the world against guys you might never have heard of but who were proper fighters. I'm not just looking at world titles in doing this. It goes deeper than that. Good luck to Josh against Ramirez. I think Josh will have too much for him."

9. Jackie Paterson

His story was one of greatness and tragedy, a Scottish world champion shot dead in South Africa in 1966 at the age of 46.

"He was before my time but Jackie fought 91 professional fights and won the world flyweight title in 1943. He put Peter Kane away in a minute at Hampden. You see some of the really tough guys he fought and you have to conclude the guy was a wee bit special.

"People wouldn't know much, or anything, about about the likes of Danny O'Sullivan, Rinty Monaghan, Manuel Ortiz, Theo Medina, Joe Curran and Johnny King but they were serious fighters, folklore characters in their own regions. Jim Brady from Dundee is another one. The list is a long one. Jackie was in with all of them. He deserves his place. You only have to look at who I'm leaving out - Pat Clinton, Alex Arthur, Ricky Burns and lots more - to realise how good Paterson was."

8. John 'Cowboy' McCormack

Nicknamed 'Cowboy' because of his bandy legs, McCormack's career went from 1957-1966.

"An incredible character, the Cowboy. If he was around today he'd be a different class. Won a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne where he fought the great Jose Torres, who went on to become a world champion. Torres said later that Cowboy gave him one of his toughest ever fights.

"He was a big rival of Chic Calderwood, who was my hero, so I didn't support him but I always admired him. I invited him to the top table at my sporting club a number of times. It was fantastic to be in his company. Cowboy said that if his legs were straight he would have been 6ft 8in. He never won a world title but he was class and the quality of guy he got in the ring with was top drawer."

7. Chic Calderwood

There was an emotional attachment to Calderwood, who was very good to the young Gilmour, always taking time to chat back in the day.

"My favourite fighter. The only world-renowned big man Scotland has ever had. I remember him fighting Yolande Pompey in the Paisley Ice Rink in 1959 and Pompey was a fight he shouldn't really have taken at the time, but Chic knocked him dead as a door nail. That was his launch pad.

"He beat Arthur Howard for the Lonsdale Belt. I held the numbers up that night. Nobody above middleweight had ever won anything before or since for Scotland. I have that belt now. I bought it and gave it to my son. Look at the fellas he beat: Pompey, Howard, Stan Cullis, Ron Redrup, Willie Pastrano. Those were tough men. Chic was a big, handsome fella and a hell of a fighter."

6. Walter McGowan

Walter McGowan (right) defeated Italy's Salvatore Burruni over 15 rounds to win the world flyweight title in 1966
Walter McGowan (right) defeated Italy's Salvatore Burruni over 15 rounds to win the world flyweight title in 1966

The former world flyweight champion could have risen even higher had it not been for his propensity to get cut in fights.

"Ah, his speed and agility around the ring was unreal. He could flash in and out and was good to watch, wee Walter. Classy. He had those great fights with Salvatore Burruni but he also had the unbelievable fights with Alan Rudkin and then he fought a guy called Jose Medel. You might not have heard of Medel but he was a serious operator.

"Wee Walter fought Chartchai Chionoi in Thailand in 1966. He lost but that's where the money was. The world was a much bigger place back then. He comes from a time when boxing was all over the back pages on a regular basis. These lads were very good. There's loads more I could mention but I can only name 10."

5. Dick McTaggart

The only amateur on the list, the Olympic lightweight champion of 1956 and Olympic bronze medallist of 1960 makes the top five.

"I wouldn't be doing a good job if I didn't have him high up. I didn't see a lot of him but he had hundreds of fights and only lost a handful. He was so stylish.

"The best amateurs fought against each other all the time. Here's a guy from Dundee who ended up working as a rat catcher for the council in Glasgow. Still, to this day I look at him with reverence. When I see him I feel like I'm with boxing royalty. He had 610 wins from 634 amateur fights. Three rounders but still... he was exceptional - and an absolute gentleman."

4. Jim Watt

A legend and former world champion, Watt belonged to a golden era of Scottish lightweights.

"Everybody knows about the famous fight between Jim and Kenny Buchanan at St Andrew's Sporting Club. I was holding the spit bucket in Jim's corner that night. The way he came back after losing to Kenny was brilliant.

"He beat Sean O'Grady, Charlie Nash, Perico Fernandez and Howard Davis, who was one of the golden people from American boxing, a superstar. Jim beat Alfredo Pitalua to win the world title. Everybody went mad to see that. It was unbelievable. In his best years, Jim was so tough, so fit, so accurate. He never left an opponent alone. A brilliant fighter."

3. Benny Lynch

An icon of the game, a man who continues to fascinate, in part because of his excellence in the ring, in part because of the tragic chaos of his life outside the ring.

"My grandfather and his mate Sammy Wilson were involved with Benny. My grandad and Sammy were shipyard workers and Sammy ran the pitch and toss schools there. He was Benny's first manager. The Premierland gym was in Bridgeton and Benny fought in there. Harry Lauder, the singer and comedian, would come to watch.

"My dad went to the pub to get Harry a quarter gill once. When the older lads in the gym ran the errand for Harry they'd get sixpence from him. Harry thought my dad was too young to get money, so he gave him two mint imperials instead. He wasn't happy. What can you say about Benny? He had 17 fights in 1934 alone and 119 overall. He died an awful death but we're still talking about him, so what does that tell you?"

2. Peter Keenan

The Gilmours and Keenan were no pals. Indeed, Tommy's father had a long-running and bitter war with him. The bantamweight of the 1940s and 1950s was a thunderous operator.

"He wasn't the nicest person. My dad and him had very acrimonious times. Lawyers and stuff. But, as a fighter, my dad wouldn't let anybody say a bad word against Keenan. Keenan was special. He smashed people up, a 100mph man, great to watch, I have old footage of him and he was relentless. What a fighter."

1. Ken Buchanan

Buchanan (right) beat fellow Scot Jim Watt by a decision in 1973 to reclaim the British lightweight title
Buchanan (right) beat fellow Scot Jim Watt by a decision in 1973 to reclaim the British lightweight title

No surprise here, Buchanan is not just Scotland's greatest fighter but one of Britain's all-time finest. A phenomenal champion.

"The best. Tip-top. Dodged nobody. Should not have fought Roberto Duran but did. Fought all over the world, topped the bill ahead of Muhammad Ali. A star of Madison Square Garden. The American media loved him. He was a genuine world star. A colossal talent.

"It would be very difficult for somebody to come along and knock Kenny off the number one spot. He was an absolute pleasure to watch. So, so skilful. I hope Kenny will be watching Josh on Saturday night. We'll all be rooting for him."

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