IT wasn’t quite Alexander the Great apocryphally crying salt tears when he realised there were no more worlds left to conquer but an unshakeable feeling of emptiness similarly engulfed Josh Taylor following the conclusion of his own epic mission.

In defeating Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas in May 2021, the pride of Prestonpans became the first – and so far only – British male boxer to become undisputed world champion in the four-belt era, at that time only the fifth man anywhere in the world to have done so.  Just how do you top something of that magnitude?

Turns out, you can’t. Taylor chose to stay at super-lightweight and a fight was made against Jack Catterall on home soil at Glasgow’s Hydro arena. Sold as a Battle of Britain event and the Scot’s homecoming after three bouts on the road, there seemed plenty, on paper at least, to keep the fires burning inside of Taylor.

As he prepares now to take on Teofimo Lopez in New York’s Madison Square Garden next month, the 32-year-old now admits he just couldn’t get himself up for that Catterall fight and nearly paid the costliest of prices. The Englishman was undefeated after 26 contests and a dangerous opponent but lacked the star power of a Jose Ramirez or Regis Prograis, both globally recognised and respected American fighters. Taylor admits complacency set in.

In truth, he was fortunate to hang on to his belts that night last February but it gave him the jolt he needed as he looks to reignite his career against Lopez ahead of a move up to welterweight down the line.

“I’ve still got that hunger and motivation,” he insists. “I’ve always had it. I’ve still got huge goals in the game. I want to become a two-weight world champion. But before that last fight a little bit of complacency set in which was the worst mistake I ever made. At the end of the day you’re only human. And when you’ve achieved what I’d achieved in such a short space of time – and you’re the only [male] from the UK to have done it – you do tend to enjoy it.

“So a little bit of complacency crept in and that was the mistake that I made. I never had that fear factor or the excitement for it.  I felt I had just climbed Everest and I was coming back to climb Arthur’s Seat. That was the mentality I had. I ended up lowering my operating level because my mindset wasn’t right. That was the mistake I made and I won’t make that again.

“You’re a fool if you make the same mistake twice. At light-welter, the weight I’m at now, achievement-wise there’s nothing left for me to do. But there are big fights there like this one. This is a huge fight. This keeps the fire in my belly and the butterflies in the stomach, the excitement and the nerves.


“For me to achieve my goals I’ve got to win this fight. It’s a big, big fight on both sides of the water. Worldwide this is a huge fight for boxing. It’s got me buzzing to go to the gym again with a spring in my step. I never had that for the last one.”


A commitment to get married to partner Danielle and a succession of injuries have since contributed to Taylor losing three of those belts over the past 15 months. Now only the WBO strap remains but the southpaw is philosophical about how things have transpired.


“It would’ve been impossible for me to keep all of the belts because I couldn’t get the fights I wanted due to the mandatory defences,” he reveals. “The WBA was the first to go. They insisted I fight Alberto Puello but I wasn’t interested so I had to let that one go. After that the WBC came in with Jose Zepeda as the challenger and that would’ve been a good fight but the date they wanted was only about a month after my wedding so I wouldn’t have been ready for it.

“I also decided to vacate the IBF title because you need to pay sanctioning fees to them for every defence. I was having to hand over 12% of my purse to them. Frankly, it’s almost impossible to remain an undisputed champion and chase all the big fights at the same time.”

The fright he got from Catterall has prompted some major changes in how Taylor goes about his business. He split from trainer Ben Davison and moved to Liverpool to work with Joe McNally and Declan O’Rourke and believes the change of scenery has served him well.

“It’s brand new surroundings and I have a whole new team around me,” he adds. “My new trainers, Joe and Declan, have made me part of their family and I feel as though we’ve been friends for years. They’ve welcomed me with open arms and they’ve been improving me, working on aspects of the game I need to get better on. Plus I also have a new strength and conditioning coach to help me keep on top of my diet and weight. Everyone in my team has a job to do and I feel as though I’ve been born again.

“Don’t get me wrong, it is always tough to make the weight. But I’ve got a brand-new team around me, keeping me grounded and disciplined. I’m dialled in and focused again, back to my normal weight I walk around at, which isn’t too much heavier than my fighting weight. Having said that, the move to welterweight is inevitable. I will be moving up at some point in the future.”

The excitement of fighting inside the fabled Madison Square Garden – or at least the “Theater” underneath the main arena – is another factor that has Taylor fired up.

“I’ve actually never been inside it. I’ve been to New York a couple of times but I’ve never been to the venue. When we get there on the Friday we’ll have the weekend to loosen off, get over the flight and the heat and I’ll probably take a wee trip over then to do a wee recce of it and get the juices flowing.”