Scotland’s Josh Taylor is in his prime, on top of his little corner of the world, and eager for more.
The 30-year-old from Edinburgh is currently the WBA and IBF world junior welterweight champion and is scheduled to take on WBC and WBO champ Jose Ramirez on May 22 in a four-belt unification contest. From there, he’s hungry for a move up to 147 and world domination…and for a crack at his own personal hero, Manny Pacquiao.
“To share a ring with my hero Pacquiao? That would be brilliant,” Taylor recently told Sky Sports.
“How many people can say they shared a ring with their hero and beat them? Not many.”
When asked to talk about why he idolizes the Filipino icon and multi-division world champ, he gushed.
“Everything about him. He’s funny, he sings, he puts on a Scottish accent, his fighting style, he’s a people’s champion, a really nice person, he gives money to feed people.
“He’s an absolute gentleman and his fighting style is ferocious– a southpaw with fast hand who can fight like hell.”
Given the probable timelines of both Taylor and Pacquiao, a bout between the two would have to take place after Taylor’s clash with Ramirez and after Pacquiao’s upcoming return bout. That could put Taylor in the role of being Manny’s last ever bout (if it’s true that Pacquiao is planning to fight just two more times).
Honestly, Taylor seems like an unlikely final foe for an outgoing Manny Pacquiao. One would think that maybe a bigger name would be chosen for the farewell fight or, maybe, a lesser risk for what may amount to a victory lap of a final performance. But if Taylor unifies the junior welterweight division and makes a big splash in doing so, who knows what demand could be created for a possible Pacquiao-Taylor showdown?
Right now, it looks as though Pacquiao may be leaning towards Mikey Garcia as his comeback opponent this Spring or Early Summer. Garcia provides that right mix of risk vs. reward and, while definitely no walk in the park, he’s also a beatable opponent for the 42-year-old fighting Senator.
Taylor’s taste for a clash with his hero is little more than a heartfelt wish at the moment.
“I’ve achieved the goal I set out with, to become world champion,” Taylor said. “Becoming undisputed and two-weight world champion were further out, more farfetched dreams.
“After this, it will be to move up to 147lbs and chase a second weight world title to really cement my reign in the history books.
“[Terence] Crawford? Of course he’s on my radar. It would be a massive fight– two undisputed champions fighting.”
But the undefeated Scottish champ knows that, before he can do any of this– Pacquiao, Crawford, welterweight glory, and Hall of Fame legacy– all roads lead through the rough and ready Mexican-American battler Jose Ramirez. A loss on May 22 turns Taylor into just another very good fighter with big dreams who came up short at the highest level of the sport.
“These are all longer-term goals. All I’m thinking about now is Ramirez and winning those four belts.”
A fierce battle awaits the talented two-belt champ. With the win comes the glory, the respect, and the recognition earned as one of the very best in the world. There’s also a possibility that a road may open to his dream fight and to the biggest opportunity of his career– a chance to define his legacy with a win over Manny Pacquiao.