The next step on the journey towards a world title fight for Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor takes place on Saturday at The Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. Returning to the venue where he won his Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2014 and easily defeated Winston Campos via third round stoppage in March, Taylor will be hoping to please his home fans once again.
Opposing Taylor will be Viktor “The Iceman” Postol of Ukraine. The experienced, former WBC 140lb world champion represents Taylor's toughest test so far. Postol is not coming to Glasgow to finish second, he wants to throw his name back into the world title shake-up.
Billed as a final eliminator for the WBC light-welterweight title, the winner will certainly have a few exciting options available to them. As Regis Prograis of America is currently the WBC's interim champion he would presumably be in the frame for a fight with the man who has his hand raised in Glasgow. Also watching with interest will be title holder Jose Ramirez. There is also rumour of a World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament at 140lbs beginning in September. A spot in that competition is said to be on offer for Saturday's victor.
Whether it is WBSS or a bout with Prograis or Ramirez next, Taylor and Postol both know the stakes are high this weekend. I'm expecting a very good fight.
Josh Taylor (12-0-0, 11KOs) has shown quick development and natural progression since turning professional in 2015. Fast-tracked and matched aggressively, to mirror his growth, the Scotsman has been tabbed as a future world champion ever since he demolished domestic rival Ohara Davies in July last year.
Hot on the heels of that victory, Taylor became the first man to stop Miguel Vazquez and now he is faced with an opponent who has already held a world crown in the 140lb division.
Viktor Postol (29-1-0, 12KOs) has been boxing professionally since 2007. His signature win was a 2015 tenth round KO victory over Lucas Matthysse.
Postol captured the WBC light-welterweight title that night but suffered his only defeat in his next outing. The Ukrainian lost his title to the great Terence Crawford in a July 2016 unification fight. Interestingly, Postol was the only man to hear the final bell against Crawford during Terence's reign of terror at 140lbs. Despite going the distance it was a heavy defeat for Postol and perhaps some of his self belief was eroded. He returned after a 14 month break to outpoint Jamshidbek Najmiddinov over ten rounds in September last year. Alarmingly for Postol he was dropped heavily and barely made it through round five of that contest. He did survive that crisis though, won a UD, and maintained his high ranking with the WBC. On Saturday he will be looking to make his 30-fight experience count but he may well be running into a younger and more dynamic fighter at the wrong time.
Of course there are elements of danger in the fight for the home boxer. Postol boxes in a disciplined fashion and will hold somewhere in the region of a four inch reach advantage over Taylor. This, in theory, could enable him to get behind his best punch, his jab, and control the fight on his terms. We have seen this before from Postol in the aforementioned Matthysse fight. He used his piston-like jab to dictate that contest and the dangerous Argentinian had no answer.
On the other hand that was almost three years ago and I'm not sure if the 2015 version of Matthysse had the same amount of tools that Taylor 2018 possesses. First of all Josh will be boxing out of the southpaw stance and will be aggressively working to get inside Postol's jab. Taylor's footwork, speed and combination punching should enable him to do this and score heavily. Even if Postol is able to establish his jab early I'm not sure just how potent that punch is now and how long he'll be able to maintain its effectiveness. It may be the case that the jab keeps Postol in the fight for a while but once Taylor starts working him over up close it could become a difficult night for the 34-year-old Ukrainian.
This leads me to conclude that as long as Taylor deals with Postol's early attempts to dictate the fight he should gradually be able to establish himself as the alpha in the ring and purposefully go about ending Viktor's resistance. Taylor's fast, destructive body punches should eventually be enough to completely freeze “The Iceman” before he finally melts him for good in the tenth round.
Taylor vs. Postol will be broadcast live in the UK on terrestrial broadcaster Channel 5, beginning at 10.20pm local time. Legendary Showtime commentator Al Bernstein will be working the telecast alongside Alex Arthur so the hopefully large TV audience can expect some top class commentary and analysis. There is nothing better than being there though and some tickets still remain so get along to The Hydro if you can.
Prior to the main event a full undercard will enable fans to get a look at some talents who all hope to be headlining their own cards some day. 21-year-old Scottish bantamweight Lee McGregor (3-0-0, 3KOs) faces off against Goodluck Mrema (22-2-0, 12KOs) of Tanzania for the IBF youth championship. Heavyweight Martin Bakole (10-0-0, 7KOs) will be looking to continue his promising looking campaign with a win over England's D.L. Jones (8-1-1, 0KOs). Also featuring will be 7-0 bantamweight Gary Rae from Barrhead, Scotland and Edinburgh based super-middleweight Tommy Philbin (10-0-0, 3KOs). Rounding off the card, hard hitting Chantelle Cameron (6-0-0, 4KOs) of England will be defending her IBO 135lb title.
Taylor vs. Postol tops what should be a great night at the fights in Glasgow. For the headliners the opportunity to break through to the championship level is right in front of them. It is the correct fight for both men at the stage. A world title shot or a spot in the WBSS tournament awaits the winner. That is for the future though. On Saturday night in Glasgow, Taylor and Postol will only be focused on each other.