Sport

Barry McGuigan wants Josh Taylor to build up his experience in the ring

Ronnie Esplin

BARRY McGuigan has boundless faith in Josh Taylor but knows there is no quick way for one of Scotland's top boxing prospects to gain experience.

The 26-year-old from Prestonpans is unbeaten in eight fights and was taken the distance for the first time against Alfonso Olivera on his Las Vegas debut at the end of January.

Taylor, who won Commonwealth gold in 2014, returns to the ring at Meadowbank Sports Centre on Friday night to defend his Commonwealth super-lightweight crown against 35-year-old South African Warren Joubert.

Former world champion McGuigan manages Taylor and wants his man to get more fights under his belt to make him ready for a step up in class but knows he cannot be rushed.

The Clones man said: "Ultimately we are looking for experience because he has had unbelievable experience as an amateur, over 200 fights, all over the world and competed against the top fighters.

"Now it is a new game. You let your power out slower, at a more sustainable pace.

"You can't go 100 miles per hour because you are not fighting three rounds, you are fighting 12 rounds, fighting better guys, using smaller gloves, shots that you would normally slip get through, these things are all to do with experience and bottom line is we need experience.

"Right now he is blowing everyone away. He knocked out seven of eight opponents and he went the distance which was a great experience.

"It taught him that he couldn't knock everyone out. The kid was tough and Josh couldn't put him away but that wasn't disappointing, that was the complete opposite, it was great for me.

"I need to fill that experience gap. That is my issue."

All the while, however, McGuigan has his eyes on Ricky Burns.

The 33-year-old from Coatbridge will take on Julius Indongo for the WBA and IBF world super-lightweight titles in a unification clash at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on April 15 and McGuigan will watch with interest.

He said: "We are not a kick in the arse from a world title fight, we are right there.

"And Ricky Burns is just round the corner, and we are looking at him.

"Ability-wise Taylor is quite capable of beating anybody in the world right now. But has he enough experience to do it over and over again? That is my issue.

"We will look at how Josh performs on Friday night, we will look at Burns and Indongo.

"They know where we are. We are not going anywhere.

"We are almost like the elephant in the room. Nobody is talking about it.

"We have real respect for Ricky Burns, he is a wonderful guy, an incredible fighter.

"We don't want to be disrespectful and we don't want the Scottish public to think we are being disrespectful but I am telling you I have a kid here capable of beating anybody."

Asked if that fight could take place by the end of the year, the Irishman replied: "Ask me that in three months' time when he has fought twice more.

"Then I will tell you. But another issue. What happens if Burns gets beaten, if someone comes in and takes that title off him and we don't get the chance? We will be kicking ourselves.

"Ricky Burns is a phenomenal fighter and will expect a lot of money and it is a big jump.

"A bit more experience and hope that Burns retains the title and unifies it and then it becomes bigger again.

"But we mustn't take our eyes off the fact that we have to beat Warren Joubert on Friday night and that is not an easy thing. Let's not be overlooking that."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Sport