Josh Taylor says he will be fulfilling a dream by fighting in Las Vegas, but says he hopes that travel restrictions will be lifted to allow Scottish fans to watch the fight in person.
Taylor will face Jose Ramirez for the undisputed world super-lightweight title in Las Vegas on May 22. It is a fight that has been on the cards for some time, but the WBA and IBF champion, who will have boxed less than one round in 18 months by the time he steps into the ring, is glad to finally have a date.
“I’m absolutely happy that it’s in Vegas,” Taylor said. “Every fighter dreams of headlining a show in America whether it’s Las Vegas or Madison Square Garden.
“I’m absolutely over the moon, it’s a dream fight, it’s a dream come true for me that I’m getting to see my name in the bright lights.”
It was October 2019 when Taylor beat Regis Prograis to unify the WBA and IBF belts, three months after Ramirez beat Hooker to unify the WBC and WBO titles. The COVID pandemic ended hopes that the unification would take place last year, as delayed mandatories took priority, with Taylor knocking out Apinun Khongsong in the first round.
But it is a case of better late than never. The last Scottish boxer to defend his world title in the United States was Ken Buchanan, when he lost the world lightweight champion to Roberto Duran at Madison Square Garden in 1972. Buchanan, a fellow Edinburgher, is Taylor’s idol.
Taylor believes there will be fans at the fight, but whether there are Scottish fans could be another matter.
The UK is presently under lockdown with overseas travel for holidays banned. Under the post-lockdown roadmap unveiled recently by UK Primer minister Boris Johnson, over seas travel for holidays is expected to be allowed from May 17, just in time for the May 22 fight. But Johnson did warn that any steps out of lockdown could be delayed if the coronavirus spike goes up.
But having grown up watching fans of the likes of Ricky Hatton, Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe filling the Las Vegas Strip, he believes it would be a great trip for the Tartan Army.
“There will be American fans there for sure. I’m hoping that possibly nearer the time the travel restrictions over here will get lifted so we can get some travelling support,” Taylor said.
“The only downer about this whole thing is that it might not be possible to have travelling support like all the fighters have had in the past, like Carl Frampton and Ricky Hatton, who took over a good travelling support.
“Obviously, it would be a massive plus if we could get the travel restrictions lifted and people could come over and support me.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.