There is a reason why several empires throughout the last two and a half thousand years had tried and failed to bring the fierce and proud inhabitants of Scotland to heel.
By the 1st century A.D. after decades of pitched battles and strafing guerilla attacks by Caledonian tribes the Romans under Hadrian constructed part of Hadrian's Wall not merely to keep Roman Legions safe inside Rome's borders but to keep the marauding Caladonians Out.
The fierce fighting spirit sensationalized in The West by countless Hollywood movies was on display again yesterday as the shrewdly marketed Battle of Britain took place in front of a raucous crowd at Braehead Arena in Glasgow Scotland.
London based fighter Ohara Davies brought his undefeated record and WBC Super Lightweight Silver title to Josh Taylor’s backyard.
The Tartan Tornado Josh Taylor came in with an undefeated record and robust amateur credentials ready to stand his ground and repel the invasion of home soil.
The crowd was deafening!
Singing and chanting and soaking up every ounce of the atmosphere that had been generated in the build up between the two fighters. The way Davies and Taylor went at one another on social media only fanned the flames of anticipation.
The weigh in the day before became quite tense as the two men pushed and shoved at each other once they came head to head.
If you're like me you could have been forgiven for forgetting that at stake was not millions of dollars, a World Title or even a guaranteed shot at a World Title, it was a fight between two undefeated prospects to settle who would be moving on to ‘bigger & better…’ and who might need a bit more time to marinade.
Credit to Barry McGuigan and Cyclone Promotions and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing for getting a deal done to bring these two talented young men together, for keeping the fight on free terrestrial T.V. and the building up a fight that lived up to every expectation.
Fights like this are more proof that the U.K. boxing scene is ahead of the rest of the world by a country mile – relative to the debacle just a week ago on ESPN that aired the Pacquiao/Horn fight that has ended in controversy and cast a pall over the U.S. boxing market The Battle of Britain as an event was an unqualified success.
The Fight Itself
Davies came out looking to pressure Taylor immediately in the first round, he succeeded for a millisecond in backing up Taylor to the ropes who pivoted off his lead foot expertly to retake the center of the ring.
Davies gave Taylor an awkward look hiding behind his lead shoulder and aping James Toney's style, attempted to up jab and back hand jab from a low guard. Taylor showed his class immediately countering and landed a hard right hook to the floating rib from the southpaw stance.
Round two was a bit cagey – Taylor attempted to establish a jab unlike Davies who was content to load up his right-hand punch only, Davies has a reach advantage, however, did not avail himself the opportunity to make use of it. Taylor continued his attack on Davies body in the second round.
In round three, Davies came out in an awkward crouch attempting to lure Taylor into walking on to a big right hand or the looping hooks that Davies tried to land without effect. In all Taylor looked the sharper fighter and hard body punches Taylor landed were showing their efficacy. Taylor scored a knockdown late in the third with a stiff right jab. Davies took a knee as the bell to end the third rang.
Barry McGuigan passionately cheered on The Tartan Tornado in round four and Taylor was truly asserting himself using a varied attack and defense countering intelligently. An audible Pop echoed in Braehead as Davies punches bounced off Taylor's Everlast gloves.
In round five Taylor took his eye off the ball a bit and got into a shootout with Davies who managed to land a right upper cut that backed Taylor up momentarily, at this point a strong argument could be made that Taylor was shutting Davies out on the score cards.
Davies looked visibly tired and weary in round six and though he was beckoning Taylor on with the wave of his glove, the strength of his punches had been eroded by Taylor’s counter punching and effective body work as Davies’ legs were failing him. The technical acumen of Taylor was a pleasure to watch, he rolled and slipped and countered – for any fan of boxing one had it all served up to them on a platter by Taylor and Davies.
After a slow start in round seven Taylor pressed his advantage, Davies became desperate and lunged again at Taylor and walked on to a short right hook that crumpled Davies in the corner.
Davies rose to meet the eight count and fought on valiantly but was pounced on by Taylor – caught in the storm of the Tartan Tornado, Davies was saved by veteran ref Howard Foster.
The acrimony that colored the showdown between Davies & Taylor was overshadowed in my mind by the class after the contest. Davies acknowledged that he lost to the better man and even in losing proved he’s a certified draw in the U.K. and will soon be ready with a bit more polish for the world stage.
Taylor had ostensibly proven the same and is arguably the best Super Lightweight in the whole of Britain in only his 10th fight.
At ring side was sat the popular durable Scot Ricky Burns.
A veteran of nearly 20 years in pro boxing, 48 professional bouts, more than 370 rounds boxed.
A former three weight world champion who’s fought Terrence Crawford, Omar Figueroa, Raymundo Beltran and Julius Indungo to name just a few.
To say the least Taylor could make an argument for entering the elite class at 140 pounds with a convincing win over Burns. Further, the fight would be huge if held in Scotland.
During the post fight interview Burns stood along side Taylor and his coach Shane McGuigan, promoter Barry McGuigan and the two alphas assessed the possibility of a super fight between the two men. Hampden Park, the home of the Scottish League Cup with it’s capacity of 50,000 plus was mentioned and there’s no reason to think Burns and Taylor could not sell it out.
Putting the two men together post fight may have been a bit of a setup, doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect fight to make. Burns is a gutsy never say die kind of fighter and Taylor proved he’s a class operator on this night.
Barry McGuigan and Eddie Hearn were able to come together and put on The Battle of Britain with little difficulty and Ricky Burns said in closing while sat ring side that the two men have each other’s number.