By Stewart Fisher

MANY people didn’t bat an eyelid when Barry McGuigan addressed the assembled media in the Scotsman Hotel in Edinburgh four years ago and predicted that the young man sat next to him Scotland’s next boxing superstar.

Okay so Taylor’s potential in the sport was clear from his Commonwealth gold medal but this is boxing, right? Hype and exaggeration are all part of the package. People say these things all the time and they never come to pass.

Well, McGuigan’s claim doesn’t seem so much like an idle boast this morning, as Taylor returns to his native Edinburgh as Scotland’s first unified world champion since his mentor Ken Buchanan 50 years ago with the WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine Super Lightweight belts in his possession, not to mention the Ali trophy.

And not just that. Having achieved all this within just four years and an unbeaten 16 pro fights is the kind of progress which only the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko – a world champ in just his third pro fight - can beat. You can’t say that McGuigan didn’t warn us.

“This kid is a superstar and I’ve said it so many times,” said the Northern Irish fight legend. “I know that the rugby has been pretty lousy for both Ireland and Scotland. The football hasn’t been great for Scotland, either! But Taylor deserves all the accolades he gets.

“That day at the Scotsman Hotel, I told you. Now, 16 fights later, here he is.

“There aren’t many guys done what he has,” added McGuigan. “Lomachenko is a unique talent but you don’t draw comparisons. Taylor is the best, arguably, the best light welterweight this country has ever produced.

“Think about it. Terry Marsh was a world champion and he made a couple of defences but this something we’ve never had a unified title in 16 fights. Throw in the WBSS and the Ring belt and that is incredible. Josh didn’t turn pro young, he was quite advanced so I knew we had to get on with it!”

To be fair, McGuigan has been preaching to the converted for some time now. While Taylor was moved around in his first handful of fights, the first time I caught up with him in person was when demolishing a fancied, seasoned fighter in England’s Dave Ryan for the Commonwealth title in what was only his sixth fight as a professional.

“Has he surpassed even my expectations?” said McGuigan. “No. What about when he fought Dave Ryan after five fights and he beat the shit out of him. He assassinated him. And then when Eddie was blowing about Ohara Davies because he’d been knocking guys out in the gym. We said we’d love to fight him and then we won the purse bids and he took him apart. Look, Rougarou [Regis Prograis] had a formidable record and was a guy who knocked everybody out in sparring. And look what he’s done.”

Like the recent successes of so many Scottish heroes, say the likes of Andy Murray, Laura Muir, Callum Hawkins and Duncan Scott, is the sense that good things are happening to a good person.

As seen by him sharing a joke with his opponent Prograis in the wake of Sunday’s fight, Taylor has a great attitude to his sport.

There will be a pleasing symmetry about the whole thing when Taylor brings his belts into his old amateur gym at Lochend Boxing Club in the shadow of Easter Road to show them off to Buchanan.

“He loves Kenny,” said McGuigan. “He said ‘I want to do this for him’. And Buchanan is one of my all-time heroes too because he sparred me and boxed the bollocks of me when I was a kid.

“I learned more from him in six weeks in three years as a pro because of the sparring,” he added. “The first day he went all out and then he went a bit easier … but he had to go flat out again because I started to close in on him. It was great and I’ve got great respect for him. I know Taylor does.”

Having fought his way past Viktor Postol, Ryan Martin, Ivan Baranchyk and now Regis Prograis in the space of 18 months, Taylor has earned some time off – particularly having to deal with the loss of his partner Danielle’s father Jimmy during camp - but whatever alchemy there is between Taylor and trainer Shane McGuigan seems worth sticking to.

“We’ve moved down to Canterbury and he loves it because he’s with the fighters all in the one house and they have fun together,” said McGuigan. “It’s out in the country so they can walk around. He’s a home bird like me and likes to be out in the country.

“These fights take a bit of your soul away,” the Northern Irishman added. “They take a lot out of you – and you can’t have every fight like that.

“He needs time to rest and, because of that eye, he needs time to recover. We have to give him a chance to have a breather.

“We both, personally, have had a terrible year. Poor James died and that was just shocking.

“To have to deal with the heartbreak of his wife-to-be, that was devastating. I went up to the funeral and I had just been at my daughter’s. So for him to come through all that and you put everything together where he’s won a unified world title in 16 professional fights is pretty amazing. This kid is a superstar. I told you before.”