Trainer Shane McGuigan couldn’t help but feel like a disappointed parent watching his former charge Josh Taylor pick up a controversial decision the other night.
Taylor managed to edge mandatory challenger and heavy underdog Jack Catterall at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland last Saturday with a split decision on the judges’ scorecards to retain all four of his 140-pound titles. The problem? Most observers viewed the fight differently, believing Catterall, who appeared to out box Taylor for the majority of the rounds and even scored a knockdown, more than deserved to win the fight. The verdict has once again cast a dark pallor over the sport.
Count McGuigan, the well-known British trainer and Taylor’s former head coach, as among those who believed Catterall (26-1, 13 KOs) should have had his hands raised Saturday night.
“I thought Catterall won,” McGuigan told Boxing Social. “Yeah, I didn’t think it was the same Josh Taylor that was in my gym. Disappointed. Did a lot of hard work over the years, done five years of fantastic work. Honestly, it frustrates me to see him boxing like that.”
McGuigan oversaw the development of the Scotsman since the inception of his professional career in 2015. But the pair had a falling out soon after Taylor defeated Regis Prograis, in 2019, to win the World Boxing Super Series and partially unify the 140-pound division.
After the Catterall bout, the 31-year-old Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) vowed to move up from 140 pounds and start anew at 147, suggesting his recent struggles were a result of trying to make weight. McGuigan, however, does not buy that line of thinking. He put the onus on what he feels is Taylor’s attempt to change his natural style as an educated pressure fighter. Taylor is currently trained by Ben Davison.
“And I know it’s not even the weight,” McGuigan, who is the chief trainer of cruiserweight titlist Lawrence Okolie and heavyweight Daniel Dubois, continued. “It’s simply the fact that he’s trying to change his style. And he said something in that interview with Sky Sports that he looked at the Regis Prograis fight and still thought he could’ve done certain things better and actually right now he should be looking at that fight (Catterall) and thinking those are the things you thought you could have done better and actually makes you more vulnerable, because you’re getting out-jabbed.
“He’s a high paced pressure fighter that’s fantastic on the inside. His hands are down by his chest, he’s walking into punches, getting his head jabbed off. He needs to be better than that.”
McGuigan thinks it would be a foolhardy move for Taylor to move to the welterweight ranks.
“No, he’s gonna lose his attributes if he goes up to 147,” McGuigan said. “He needs to stay at 140.”
McGuigan, however, was not exactly blown away by Catterall, noting that it paled in comparison to the performance of Aussie George Kambosos, who scored one of the big upsets of last year with his unanimous points win over Teofimo Lopez to unify three of the lightweight belts.
"I didn’t even think he was that good (Catterall),” McGuigan said of Catterall. “I’m not doing it to be disrespectful. He was great on the jab. He was great slowing the pace down. But it wasn’t like it was a George Kambosos fight against Lopez where he really shone. It was a fight that he did the basics well, diffused him on the inside and Taylor got switched off on the jab.”
McGuigan’s last point seemed to be an entreaty directed at Davison and the rest of Taylor’s team.
“Josh, he has a habit of looking for perfect shots,” Davison said. “You can’t be a perfectionist when you’re working with Josh Taylor. You need to think about what he does well: he punches great in combinations, he closes the gaps well, some great hand defenses. He’s a great attacking fighter.
“Don’t take that away from him.”