From the top of the Commonwealth Games podium at Glasgow 2014 to the top of the world, Josh Taylor sealed his place in Scottish boxing history as he beat Regis Prograis on points to become the unified IBF and WBA super-lightweight champion and win the World Super Series at the O2 Arena in London on 26 October.
Winner of Sporting Moment of the Year at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards for his IBF world title win over Ivan Baranchyk in May, Josh added the WBA belt as he inflicted his American opponent’s first loss in 25 fights en route to the Muhammad Ali Trophy, while also claiming the WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine belts.
In a close battle, the 28 year old from Prestonpans took a hard fought victory with judges scoring it 114-114, 115-113, 117-112. He becomes Scotland’s first unified world champion since Ken Buchanan almost half a century ago and his rise to the top has been remarkable, just 16 bouts into his professional career.
Prograis started well, but Josh grew into the contest and by the mid-point of the scheduled 12 rounds, there was little to choose between the fighters. The momentum seemed to be moving in favour of the Tartan Tornado and he came into his own in the 8th, 9th and 10th rounds, landing some telling blows. A spirited finish by the American left the 18,000 strong crowd on the edge of their seats, but it was the Scot who emerged victorious, dedicating his victory to his late father-in-law, who died last month.
From his first competitive outing at the age of 16, Josh’s potential was quick to emerge. Bronze medallist for Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune as a 17 year old in 2008, two years later he made it all the way to the Delhi 2010 final only to be halted at the final hurdle by England’s Thomas Stalker. At 22 and with a home Olympics also under his belt, he delivered the top prize at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, becoming a household name around the country.
His rise in the pro-ranks has been no less meteoric, remaining undefeated in his 16 bouts to date and manager Barry McGuigan is already looking at securing a future match with WBO and WBC champion Jose Ramirez for a shot at a clean sweep of title in the super-lightweight division.