For the first time in his adult life, Josh Taylor is thinking about becoming a “normal person”. 

Since the age of 15, Taylor’s entire world had been utterly dominated by boxing. 

It’s a commitment that’s paid dividends; he’s become Scotland’s greatest-ever fighter and only the fifth man on the planet, and first Brit, who have been able to call themselves the unified champion of the world in this four-belt era. It’s not a bad return by anyone’s standards.

But, for the first time, Taylor is beginning to ponder retirement.

And he sounds more than a little bit content that that the prospect of living a normal life is on the horizon.

“I have a plan in terms of three or four more fights so if it all goes how I want it to, I can then hang the gloves up and say thank you very much,” says the 32-year-old Edinburgh native who currently trains in Liverpool.

“Boxing has been my whole life for so long. Since I was 15 years old, I’ve spent probably 80 percent of my life away from home and so I want to go back home and roost now. 

“I want to start enjoying my family life – spend more time with my mum and dad and I want to start a family too.

“I’ve put a lot of miles on the clock for boxing and I’ve missed a whole lot in terms of real life outside of the sport.

“I’m happy with what I’ve achieved and I still want to achieve more but if it all goes to plan, I’m soon going to say see you later.

“If it doesn’t quite go to plan, I’ll keep chasing but if it does, it’s another two years tops for me as a boxer.”

The Herald: Josh Taylor

Hanging up his gloves may be closer than it’s ever been for Taylor, but he’s still got plenty more he wants to achieve before he reaches the point of walking away.

There’s been considerable talk both from within Taylor’s camp, and outwith, about where his future in the sport lies, whether it’s remaining at super lightweight where he’s established himself as a great of the sport or if it’s stepping up to welterweight.

Taylor himself has swithered for quite some time about which weight class to continue at but finally, he says, he’s made up his mind and his decision was driven by the mental implications as much as the physical.

“I’ve decided now, I’m going to move up to welterweight. It’s more for motivation for me than anything. I’ve achieved everything in the sport at my weight class – I’ve won every belt and I’ve beaten everybody on the way to doing it,” he says.

“It’s hard getting to the top, but it’s even harder staying at the top. When you’ve done everything, a little bit of the hunger goes and that’s why I’m making the move to welterweight. I feel like if I stay at my weight, I’ve got nothing else to achieve.”

Taylor’s move to welterweight will be done with lofty ambitions in mind, and it comes at an intriguing time for the division.

Earlier this year, American Terence Crawford became undisputed welterweight world champion by defeating Errol Spence Jr but last month, he was stripped of the IBF title, with Jarron Ennis being awarded the belt.

And so for Taylor, these recent occurrences have allowed him to plot a path to the very top of the division.

“I’ll go up to 147 and want to achieve more greatness in terms of becoming a two-weight world champion,” the 2014 Commonwealth Games champion says. 

“With Crawford being stripped of his belt, it opens up the division so maybe I can be the guy to become a two-weight undisputed world champion.

“I’d be only the second guy in the sport in the four belt era, after Crawford, to become a two-weight undisputed champion. That’s proper greatness, and that’d be me going into the Hall of Fame as an all-time great. 

“The thought of that is what keeps the fire burning and that’s what’s keeps the hunger.

“There’s that saying “it’s hard to get out of bed in silk pajamas” and it’s a wee bit like that for me – I’ve done it all, so why would I want to do it all again? 

“No, lets go and take the belts off the other champions. I’d be back to being the hunter rather than the hunted – I can do the chasing again. I find it much better to be hungry than having a bellyful.”

Hunger is a word Taylor uses many times during our chat.

It’s hardly surprising that after a lifetime of pounding his body, and being pounded, he’s unwilling to continue on the same track to do nothing more than attempt to repeat his previous successes. 

And the added advantage of moving up to welterweight is he’ll be able to shake off at least a touch of the expectation that’s been weighing heavily upon him for a decade, ever since he established himself as one of the best amateur fighters on the planet.

“The pressure hasn’t bothered me massively but I have felt that bit of expectation on my shoulders – that’s been there since before the Commonwealth Games in 2014, where I was the poster boy for the boxing and I really had to win that gold in Glasgow,” he says. 

“I’ve been carrying that expectation for a decade but by moving up the weight, that’s gone now and everything I achieve now is a bonus. I’ve achieved everything you possibly can in terms of titles so now, the pressure is off and I can go and enjoy it.

“I feel happier and more relaxed because I can just go back to doing my thing and concentrate on me rather than having to deal with the expectation.”

The past few months have been a unique experience for Taylor.

In June, in his twentieth professional bout, Taylor suffered his first loss as a pro, losing by unanimous decision to America’s Teofimo Lopez at the famed Madison Square Garden.

Taylor’s preparation for that bout had been severely disrupted by injury and he was far from his best on that night and it’s this, more than the loss itself, that haunted him in the weeks and months after that defeat.

“I’m alright now but I took that loss hard,” he says. 

“It was my first defeat in 11 years, and first as a pro, but what made it harder was I knew I wasn’t at my best in there. If I’d boxed to the best of my ability and been beaten, I can live with that. But because I knew I had so much more to give performance-wise, that’s what made it so hard to take.

“I still think about it now sometimes, actually. I just can’t take getting beaten at anything. But I can’t change it so I tell myself to pull myself together. But for a good month or two afterwards, I’d think about it and my chin would go down because I knew that defeat meant a fight at Edinburgh Castle or Easter Road is now another step away for me.”

It’s impossible to speak to Taylor without any mention of Jack Catterall.

It’s now 21 months since he faced the Englishman in what’s turned out to be one of the most contentious and controversial results in boxing history.

Few need any reminding that Taylor was awarded the victory by split decision despite most observers deeming Catterall had edged it.

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A rematch has been touted from the minute the final bell rang last February but no concrete agreement has ever materialised, despite Taylor insisting an announcement was just days away earlier this year before he snapped his plantar fascia tendon in his heel, putting a halt to those plans.

However, a rematch with the Englishman is still, says Taylor, on his wishlist, as is avenging his defeat to Lopez, but both will have to be at welterweight if they’re going to happen at all.

Whoever his next opponent is, and an announcement is due imminently, Taylor is keen to become far more active in 2024 than he has been recently, fighting only three times in three years.

Much of his inactivity has been outwith his control, and Taylor still harbours some resentment that had the pandemic not turned the world upside down in 2020, his career could potentially have turned out considerably differently.

However, he has his sights set on three fights next year where he will, he believes, show he’s still one of the best fighters on the planet.

“What’s been so frustrating for me over the past few years is that everything got taken out of our hands in 2020 with the pandemic which was tough timing for me because I was on a real run of amazing performances and at the very top of my game. But then everything came to a halt, I lost all my momentum and I then boxed only three times in three years. That happened at the peak of my career and I feel like I’ve been cut of off at the legs, having the prime of my career being ripped from me,” he says.

I’ve learnt a few hard lessons in these past few years, but I learnt them the hard way. I’ve grown from it and I’m wiser now, though.

“I still very much feel that at my best, I can beat anyone in the world.

“We’re aiming for February and I want to box three times next year. I want to get my first fight at welterweight, then get a title fight afterwards then a rematch with Catterall and put him back in his box. Then maybe one more fight and then that’ll be me done."