“You need people like me so you can point your fucking fingers and say, ‘That's the bad guy.' So, what does that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me – I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth, even when I lie. So, say good night to the bad guy!” – Tony Montana – slightly worse for wear, to a room full of diners in a fancy restaurant – Scarface, 1983.
Being bad has an impact. While Al Pacino's speech as Cuban drug lord Tony Montana was delivered in the fictional setting of a big-budget film, the message behind it rings true in the real world. Those who stray from society's rules and regulations often make for compelling character studies. More often than not, their names and transgressions are remembered long after they are gone.
In boxing, adopting the persona of a villain can often elevate a fighter's career and earning potential. Results matter but becoming known to the wider public, even if it is making them dislike you, is the key to earning lifelong financial security from a relatively short ring career. Over the years, we have seen many fighters prepared to demonstrate negative character traits to draw more attention to themselves and their boxing. From Chris Eubank Snr's eccentric egomaniac to Prince Naseem Hamed's rampant arrogance – it is fair to assume that many who bought tickets or paid PPV to watch them did so in the hope that they would lose.
Of course, the most successful boxing bad guy of all time is Floyd “Money” Mayweather. The “Money” persona certainly wound people up the wrong, or right, way – ensuring Mayweather became fabulously wealthy during the second half of his career as his bouts shattered PPV records across the globe. Floyd pocketed a large percentage of the money generated. Again, many fans handed over their hard-earned cash in the hope of seeing “Money” and his staggering bravado brought crashing back down to earth.
Josh Taylor is a present-day, high-profile fighter who may be going down the same road. The undisputed light-welterweight world champion hasn't been far from the thoughts of boxing observers since his win over Jack Catterall on February 26 in Glasgow. Many who witnessed the fight thought the ringside judges got it wrong on the night. Taylor has remained adamant that he did just enough to win and backed this up recently by declaring on social media that having watched the fight back, he scored it narrowly in favour of himself.
That is to be expected, but some of Taylor's other output on social channels since that night in February have been slightly spikier. Is he revealing his true character, just standing up for himself, or showing us the early stages of a full heel turn? In response to the many comments informing him that he lost to Catterall, Taylor took to Twitter on March 7 with a diagram that outlined the four steps people should take in order to stick their opinion where the sun doesn't shine. Going by the comments, those who thought Taylor beat Catterall found this amusing. On the other hand, it provoked an angry reaction from the majority of people who took the time to post a reply.
Facts don’t care about your feelings.
The champ pic.twitter.com/ROG0AFjT0G
— Josh Taylor (@JoshTaylorBoxer) March 7, 2022
Moving on to March 18. Taylor reacted to news of Catterall slipping from number one to number three in the WBO rankings by screenshotting the information on Instagram with the addition of the words, “Quick, you better phone the police,” directed at Catterall. This was a veiled reference to Catterall's local Member of Parliament, who called the police and asked for the scoring of the fight to be investigated officially. Again, some found this funny, but the majority viewed it as unnecessary.
Without knowing Taylor personally, it is impossible to say if this is how he is or if, even on a subconscious level, he is launching a bad alter-ego in order to help his boxing career. It may even be a defence mechanism that is helping him cope with the criticism the Catterall fight brought his way.
It may also be a delayed reaction to the way the UK media covered his undisputed showdown with Jose Ramirez last year. The fact that none of the traditional boxing broadcasters screened the fight over here must have hurt Taylor as he made history. Scottish people generally have a bit of a chip on their shoulder anyway – as a Scotsman, it's OK for me to acknowledge this. Maybe Taylor is extra chippy now and will use this as extra motivation for the remainder of his career. Perhaps it is something he should stick with – he does seem to know how to get a reaction from people, which is exactly what worked for Floyd Mayweather in the not-too-distant past.
Away from boxing, Taylor seems to be content to live a quiet life with his family. He should be able to do this even if he does become the “bad guy that people point their fingers at,” to use Tony Montana's words before, during, and after his fights.
While we await official confirmation on Taylor's plans regarding what weight he will compete at moving forward, we may have been given a glimpse of how he will approach selling himself for the upcoming portion of his ring campaign.
It is something I wouldn't mind seeing more of from Taylor, the boxer. I am all for it if it helps grow his profile and ensures his bouts aren't ignored by UK boxing broadcasters again. In the end, it may also lead to him increasing his earning potential. After all, even if those buying tickets or forking out for PPV are doing so to watch ‘bad' Josh Taylor take a humbling, the money still makes its way into his bank account all the same.
The formula has worked many times in the past. Josh Taylor could be the man to benefit from it and leave a lasting impression in the current era.