JOSH Taylor has branded Rio Ferdinand’s decision to kick start a boxing career at the age of 38 “a bit of a joke” and said that all these numerous high profile conversions are in danger of cheapening the noble art.

The former Manchester United defender said this week that he was picking up the cudgels and embarking in a professional career in the sport. While he said this was in part to exorcise demons from the death of his wife Rebecca to breast cancer in May 2015, a more cynical interpretation would be making the quick buck offered by the backing of online betting market Betfair. While there now follows a wait to see if he is granted a British Boxing Board of Control Licence, Ferdinand’s decision comes hot on the heels of the Connor McGregor v Floyd Mayweather headline show in Las Vegas and not long after English cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff went down a similar path and Scotland’s WBC Silver Super Lightweight Champion takes a dim view of it.

“You’ve seen the likes of Curtis Woodhouse and Leon McKenzie who have done it,” said Taylor. “David Brophy was a footballer as well. But those guys were all young enough to learn how to box and had done a bit of boxing when they were young and knew what it was about.

“Ferdinand must be nearly 40,” he added. “To think he can turn professional is a bit much and if he is granted a license it’s a bit of a joke. I know Freddie Flintoff did it, so I guess it can be done. But it cheapens the sport a little bit. I thought it might be a thing for charity but if it’s to become an actual fighter then it’s a bit of a joke. Listen, I’m not saying he shouldn’t get a license, just that if he does it’s a bit of a joke and has never boxed. I wouldn’t mind switching positions. Football is much better paid and much easier!”

Taylor is joking of course but as it turns out he has been spending some time with the footballing fraternity recently. While the 26-year-old undergoes intensive training camps in London prior to his fights, he popped into Hibernian’s East Mains training ground a week or so ago and was received warmly enough that he may make a return journey at some point from the family home at Prestonpans ahead of November 11’s showdown with Miguel Vazquez of Mexico at the Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston.

“I’ve been down to the Hibs training ground,” said Taylor, the WBC Silver Super Lightweight champion. “Neil Lennon has been brilliant with me. He’s said I can come down any time I want to use the facilities. It’s a great set-up down there and it’s a big help to me. It’s only four miles down the road while I can waste three hours out of my day coming in to town and back. I reckon a few of the Hibs lads are pretty fit. I’m not sure about boxing but they definitely have stronger legs than me!”

For all the good humour, Taylor knows that Vazquez represents a serious threat. The 30-year-old was IBF World Champion for four years earlier in his career, and has never been stopped in a 44-fight career which has included two meetings with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. In Scotland this week for the first time, the Mexican said that his father had known from the first time the newborn Vazquez clasped his tiny hand around his index finger that his son was a natural born fighter. “When I was born, my father saw my first and told my mum that I was going to be a world champion,” said Vazquez. “I feel this is going to be a difficult fight, especially because I am left handed and Josh Taylor is right handed but by doing the right kind of training and concentrating my mind on the right kind of thoughts I think I am going to be okay.

“It is true I have never been stopped in any fight and the secret is the preparation - I leave nothing to chance. Having done it before, I can be on the very top level again. I am training to be a world champion again.”