Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall once again locked horns as the press tour to announce their eagerly anticipated rematch rolled into Manchester on Tuesday. 

Taylor took a slap from Catterall and a decent helping of abuse from a large crowd but the Scot and his trainer Joe McNally spent a good amount of the press conference chatting and laughing together.

A little bit of light relief was welcome during a tense and at times hostile evening. Taylor and the Liverpudlian seemed extremely comfortable in each other’s company.

The two got together in the aftermath of Taylor’s controversial split decision victory over Catterall in 2022.

Taylor has never been afraid to change his team. He left Shane McGuigan three months after unifying the IBF, WBA and WBC super lightweight titles by beating Regis Prograis, and despite winning all three of his fights and claiming the undisputed title at 140lbs under the tutelage of Ben Davison, he decided he again needed a change and sought out McNally’s help.

Rather than taking a warm-up fight to figure out how each operated, the pair jumped straight into a fight with the inspired Teofimo Lopez and suffered a disappointing defeat at New York’s Madison Square Garden Theatre in June 2023. Their partnership may not have got off to the best of starts but Taylor clearly felt enough progress during those early months of working with McNally to want to build on their relationship.

It is often said that professionals who reach the top of their occupation no longer need a mentor who can teach them technical details – that they just need somebody who can push the right buttons or find the right words at the the most important moments. Taylor disagrees.

“You’re always learning,” he said. “You’re always learning new little intricacies and nuances of the game.

“I took the time to make the decision to move to Joe. I went for a week and had a little trial and went away and had a little think about it. I asked if he wanted to come up to Scotland. He stayed with me in my house for a week so I could sit and speak to him and pick his brains about his philosophies in boxing and the way he likes to train, spar and prepare. Everything. We just hit it off right away. We were both on the same wavelength and the same page.

“Joe knows his boxing and I know him as a fighter; he was a great fighter. I knew this was the guy for me.”

Taylor clearly believes that he has found a kindred spirit. The 33 year old has has been involved in some massive fights but when he walks to the ring on April 27 he will do so under a different type of pressure than he has experienced before. 

To avoid a potentially career-ending defeat, he will need to produce his best performance since he beat Jose Carlos Ramirez to claim the undisputed super lightweight title in May 2021. He will have to do it under the full glare of the publicity generated by a nasty build-up. Taylor and Catterall, 30, genuinely dislike each other and all eyes will be on the First Direct Arena in Leeds when they re-engage after two years of backbiting and insults.

There will be some tough times during training camp and some hard times in the fight. Believing in every word said in the corner makes them much easier to follow, and if things aren’t going to plan, McNally won’t let him meander towards disaster. If McNally tells Taylor that it is time to walk through fire, he will do it. 

“We’ve been working for a long time now and have a great relationship,” Taylor said. “We’re not only coach and boxer. We’re good friends outside the ring. He has that passion  and care for you and I like the type of guy he is.

“He tells you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. No bullshit. 'Whether you fucking like it or not, this is what I think.’ That’s exactly what I’m like. That’s the kind of relationship we have and it’s great.”