Glasgow, Scotland—The World Boxing Super Series is doing a redux at the SSE Hydro Arena, the iconic venue where Josh Taylor ruthlessly dispatched American Ryan Martin in November last year, in a contest that turned out to be a one-sided drubbing over seven rounds. That was a quarter-final, supported by the WBA 118-pound world title tussle between Ryan Burnett and Nonito Donaire, also a quarter-final.
This Saturday, it’s a WBSS double-header once again, both semi-finals, with Taylor (14-0, 12KOs) returning to face a test of a sterner kind, against the Belarusian Beast, Ivan Baranchyk (19-0, 12KOs), who puts his IBF 140-pound title on the line, and the other being Japan’s KO artist Naoya Inoue putting his WBA regular 118-pound title on the line against Puerto Rico’s IBF beltholder, Emmanuel Rodriguez.
Ever since Taylor, 28, turned professional in 2015, he’s been trained by London-based Shane McGuigan, 31, the son of former WBA featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, whose gym also includes lightweight kingpin Luke Campbell and the recently acquired cruiserweight, Lawrence Okolie. Previously McGuigan worked with David Haye and George Groves, both of whom are now retired.
Once the dust had settled at Wednesday’s Crowne Plaza final press conference, I pulled McGuigan aside for a one-on-one with NY Fights, a verbal spar if you like, to get the gist on matters involving Taylor taming ‘The Beast.’
First up was his star pupil’s prep.
“He’s done plenty of rounds, live rounds he’s probably done a hundred, a hundred and ten, and further out I’d bring amateurs in, just to get his to get his timing in. He’s probably done up to one hundred and eighty rounds. In terms of live opposition and people that are willing to push him back and test him, we’ve done a hundred, a hundred and ten. We’ve had Ted Cheeseman and another kid called Lee Cutler as well, and a couple of light middleweights came in and pushed him back.
“The thing about Ivan Baranchyk is you know what you’re going to get with him. He’s got a good slip uppercut, comes forward all the time, it’s not like he’s going to be on the backfoot and moving around as a slickster. So we’ve had to bring in just big, strong, physically marauding guys to walk him down and just push him back.”
On June 23 last year, Taylor pulled out a unanimous points win over Viktor Postol, a 5-foot-11 Ukrainian of high calibre material. But it was by no means an easy night’s work for the Scottish southpaw, who looked more than a bit befuddled and confused with as how to fight Postol, whose judgment of distance and jab controlled the early going. The ridiculous official scorecards aside (117-110, 118-110 and 119-108), after 6 rounds the fight seemed to be slipping away from Taylor. Then what he did was gamble, as over the second half of the fight he changed things up, by becoming more aggressive, resulting in Postol being knocked down with a monstrous left hand in the 10th.
Therefore, I put it to McGuigan that perhaps Baranchyk might not be cut from the same cloth as Taylor when it comes to versatility, that he’ll probably just resort to bringing more of the same that wasn't working if he's trailing on the cards and being bossed.
“I’m not going to say he’s a one trick pony, because you can’t win a world title being a trick pony. He’s definitely got an amateur background and amateur pedigree that if a crisis situation comes I’m sure he can change, but he’s not quite as adaptable, he’s not quite as talented, he’s not quite as big as Josh Taylor. I think all these factors are stacking in our favor. But he’s got world-class toughness and I believe that, you know, he sets such a high pace, he’s ferocious to fight, but someone like Josh Taylor, he’s got an unbelievable engine. He’s going to be able to stand with him and go with him, and he’s got gears.”
And the Boxing Writers Association of America 2016 Trainer of the Year continued on…
“Baranchyk’s a little bit one-paced. He had Yigit (RTD 7 against Baranchyk in their quarter-final) hurt a few times but he couldn’t step on the gas and get him out of there. And Yigit before that fight was finished because of a closed eye, Yigit was starting to get into his groove, starting to get used to that pressure. I think we’ve got the right game plan, we've got the right tactics to go with him, and then once Josh gets settled I believe he’ll be able to take him out.”
DAZN coverage starts at 2 PM ET on Saturday, May 18.