JOSH Taylor reckons his lengthy amateur career and extensive sparring work in camp can prepare him for everything South African champion Warren Joubert has to throw at him at Meadowbank Arena on Friday night. The 26-year-old, who is defending his Commonwealth title against the warlike veteran Joubert in what is still just his ninth pro bout, is still chiding himself for being unable to finish Alfonso Olvera of Mexico on his Las Vegas debut in January. While that points win over eight rounds at the MGM Grand was the first time the Scot, a 2014 Commonwealth gold medal winner, has ever gone the distance, the 26-year-old from Prestonpans hopes to take that frustration out on Joubert, who has lost four and drawn five of his 34 previous fights.
"I was maybe a wee bit too eager to impress on the big stage," said Taylor of his Vegas experience. "But at the same time I didn't have any nerves, or butterflies in my stomach. I don't know why, but I felt a bit flat. It was a below-average performance from me but I still managed to grind out the win and get the job done. As I have said from the start - I never ever go out there looking for knockouts. I just try to make sure I box the way I want to box, and hit the shots I want to hit."
Footage of Joubert, a native of Johannesburg, suggests that he is a game scrapper who will hope to draw Taylor into a war. Having said that, Dave 'Rocky' Ryan employed similar tactics against the Scot at Meadowbank prior to the turn of the year only to find himself on the wrong end of a fifth round stoppage.
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"He [Joubert] has got a lot of experience," Taylor told Herald Sport. "I have seen some footage of him and he is a tough cookie, he is always coming forward and putting the pressure on. He has a tight defence, and he looks quite game, so I am expecting quite a hard time. But I am confident of getting my hand up in the air again and keeping hold of my belt.
"I have not had much experience as a pro, but I have bundles of experience from travelling all over the world, multi national events and training camps," added the 26-year-old, who has had more than 12 rounds of sparring before this fight. "I have trained with the Russians and the Cubans, sparred against all different styles."
All possibilities remain open for Taylor, who his promoter Barry McGuigan believes is a new Ken Buchanan in the making. While talk of an epic all-Scottish contest with Ricky Burns refuses to go away - he faces a tough-looking encounter with Nigeria's Julius Indongo next month with two world titles on the line - the 26-year-old has his eyes on the British and European titles in this weight class, currently held by Tyrone Nurse and Michele di Rocco. "Obviously I need to get past this fight on Friday then it looks like I will be fighting again in May, hopefully that will be just one more defence of my Commonwealth belt and then I will hopefully maybe looking at a European or British title by the end of the year," he said. "The British champion is Tyrone Nurse, and that would definitely appeal to me. I would love to prove that I am the best light welter weight coming through."
The only other thing on the fighter's mind, as he travels up from his London training camp this Wednesday, are the final few finishing touches of his tune-up work on his father's motorbike, which he will race competitively in the next few weeks. "My dad is doing his induction thing at the weekend, learning all the flags and stuff, then his first meeting is in a couple of weeks time. I am looking forward to watching him."