Glasgow’s Braehead Arena housed an electrifying encounter between two unbeaten prospects on Saturday night, which was broadcast live to the millions via Channel 5. Josh Taylor excelled in front of his home fans as he stopped Ohara Davies in the seventh round to snatch the WBC Silver super-lightweight (light-welterweight) title, and retain his Commonwealth title in the process. This was a tale of orthodox against southpaw, awkward against traditional, England against Scotland.
I am a huge admirer of Davies’ skill and boxing ability, as well as his natural power combined with his mentality of securing stoppages and entertaining the fans, which is all supported by his 80% KO ratio. However, Davies just came across a fighter with too much pedigree and ring craft. Although both are still early into their careers, Ohara had just 17 amateur bouts, whereas Taylor was well decorated. As well as accumulating over 150 bouts as an amateur, he is a former Team GB member who competed at the London 2012 Olympics; he won Commonwealth gold in Glasgow 2014 and also competed in the World Series of Boxing. With brutal honesty, the Scot looked by far the superior fighter.
Taylor, who extended his unbeaten record to 10 wins, with 9 of those coming inside the scheduled distance, showed a variety of skills from his repertoire over the seven rounds. Not only did he display classy shot selection and rapid hand speed, he also showed his Scottish supporters he could fight on the inside and stand and trade with Davies. The Tartan Tornado inflicted pain on his counterpart numerous times throughout the bout, whether it was via vicious body shots or sharp blows to the head. Nevertheless, the Londoner did successfully land some hurtful shots of his own, causing marking around the left eye of Taylor and a blood to seep from his nose.
Trouble appeared for Ohara in the third round, as Taylor forced Davies back with damaging shots to the midriff, before executing a stiff right jab which forced him to the canvas. Davies recovered and showed some heart, and in the fifth, his strongest round upped his work rate and ended the three minutes landing heavy right and left crosses.
It wasn’t till two rounds later, in the seventh, that Taylor eventually handed the Hackney man his first defeat. With Davies on the front foot, he forced his opponent back onto the ropes with huge looking swings but failed to land cleanly. Then, Josh showed his class, he made Davies miss and he made Davies pay, landing a ferocious right hook flush across the chin which dropped his foe to the canvas for the second time. And, even though Ohara Davies beat the count, he bizarrely shook his hand as Taylor looked to pounce on his prey, indicating he did not want to continue. Referee Howard Foster then stepped in, prompting the home support, as well as Taylor and his team to celebrate wildly.
This is not the end of Ohara Davies. Two Tanks, as the Londoner nicknames’ himself, is still young and can most definitely bounce back and light up the 140 pound division. On the other hand, Josh Taylor could very well be challenging for a world title very soon; he is certainly showing the capabilities and potential to do so. With the opportunity to create a huge Scottish clash, Taylor and his trainer, Shane McGuigan, were quick to eye up former three-weight world champion Ricky Burns as a desired next opponent.
Shane McGuigan stated: “Why not fight Ricky Burns and the winner fight for a world title? I feel he is 1 title away from a world title”. Taylor also commented on the matter, saying: “I would want it. It would be a great fight for Scottish boxing and Scottish fans. I think it would sell out any arena. It would be a massive fight.”
Two Tanks has a big personality and has provided excitement during his short career so far; he labels himself as an entertainer and his actions support that. The Hackney-born fighter loves to create hype and tension through social media, press conferences and in interviews. In recent times we have seen him give a bold speech in front of opposition fans in Liverpool and get into an altercation with boxing great – Floyd Mayweather Jr. As well as outrageously calling the whole Taylor camp ‘bums’ in the build up to this fight.
Despite this, post-fight he did take the defeat on the chin, as iFL TV showed him addressing the Taylor team, in particularly Taylor himself: “In boxing you take the L’s, you take losses, but I want to wish him all the best in his boxing career. Even though I did say a lot of stuff that was embarrassing now that I have got beat, but my personality doesn’t change, I feel like boxing’s about being an entertainer, if me and Josh ever fight again in the future I would do the same thing but then after the fight we can make up. I believe that that’s what boxing is about. I want to wish him all the best in his boxing career, him and all his boxing team, they’re all great”. He added: “I’ll take this loss like a man and I got beat by the better man on the night”.
Food for thought; as we seen when George Groves beat James Degale when they were both early on in their careers’, James Degale ended up being the first one to become world champion.