While Regis Prograis vs Josh taylor rightly stole the show on Saturday night, Danny Flexen picks out three ‘winners’ who weren’t even fighting on the O2 card
Talk about opportunism. Mere days after Josh Taylor egded past Regis Prograis in an instant classic, to unify the WBA and IBF super-lightweight titles while bagging the World Boxing Super Series title and Ali trophy in the process, “Tank”, a full two weights below, gleefully attached his name to that of the Scot, giving his own flagging career a welcome boost. You have to respect the sauce! The 24-year-old American tweeted yesterday, “After 135 I’ll move up to 140 and fight Josh Taylor.” He later clarified that he meant immediately following his next fight, the official lightweight debut versus faded Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa on December 28, and that he felt he would stop Taylor in round seven or eight of any clash. This audacious claim inspired much mirth, including in Taylor himself, who found his own unique way of urging Davis to stay in his lane. Hey, it’s an admirably but mostly crazy gambit, though it has got people talking about Davis again. The man from Baltimore, young, exciting and unbeaten, should be a much bigger star than is currently the case, but inactivity and a lack of high-quality opposition has stymied his rise. With one tweet, he has reframed the narrative. Like that overused Gif, ‘Here’s some of that attention you ordered.’
How the gifted Ukranian must have been licking his lips while watching the post-fight interview with Dereck Chisora, who had just battered David Price into defeat, and “War’s” manager, David Haye. He heard that Chisora, perhaps gassed up from a dominant victory, was now targeting him. As I remarked to a friend earlier today, if this is Haye’s attempt to get back at an entire nation for his abject defeat to Usyk’s compatriot Wladimir Klitschko, it is sadly misguided. There has hardly been a queue forming to face the former undisputed cruiserweight king, even since mixed reviews of his heavyweight debut against Chazz Witherspoon, and now a high-profile but eminently beatable fighter is knocking on his door. Style-wise, the high-volume, mobile Usyk appears all wrong for Chisora who works best against static targets. The payday must be attractive for Del but every other element of the potential showdown benefits Usyk more.
It was another banner night for one of the world’s best young trainers. He guided Taylor, the man he has trained throughout the Prestonpans man’s pro career, to WBSS and unification glory, having earlier in the evening taken Lawrence Okolie to an ugly but effective European title win over Yves Ngabu. McGuigan, and indeed Taylor, had been hurt by family tragedy during camp but Shane remained typically professional to get his boxers in pole position to achieve their goals. In helping Taylor to victory, McGuigan also achieved a rare feat. He became one of the few British-based trainers to have coached two separate boxers to unified titles. Taylor followed Carl Frampton in that regard and, of the current crop, I can only think of Adam Booth on these shores who had done similar (with Haye and Ryan Burnett). McGuigan is not in this sport for the individual credit, but hopefully even he can take some time to fully appreciate what he continues to achieve.