Josh Taylor is without a doubt one of the most talented boxers to come out of Scotland and the UK in the last 10 years. Especially after becoming undisputed champion in just 18 fights at light-welterweight. He is now widely considered pound for pound one of the best in the world currently.
Having seen Josh Taylor fight myself a couple of times now, you can tell he is a special fighter. And that’s why it gives me great pleasure to share with you my thoughts on his boxing style. I will be looking at his background accomplishments, what makes him so effective in the ring.
Read on to find out more or watch my video version below:
Who Is Josh Taylor?
First and foremost, Josh Taylor is originally from Scotland and grew up in a small fishing town Prestonpans, a town east of Scotland’s capital Edinburgh.
Before Taylor started boxing, he was in fact a taekwondo champion from a young age before turning to take up boxing in his teenage years. Slowly but surely Taylor became an extremely talented amateur as he progressed in the British boxing system.
The Scotsman’s talent was definitely recognised as he went to the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games in India winning Silver in the lightweight division. Taylor would then go on to represent Scotland in the 2010 Delhi commonwealth games, Britain at the London 2012 Olympics and Scotland in 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games. Finishing off his amateur career with Gold in his home country.
After a successful finish to his amateur career, Taylor turned professional teaming up and signing with Barry McGuigan‘s Cyclone Promotions training under his Son Shane McGuigan. The Scotsman progressed quickly as he won the Commonwealth belt over Dave Ryan, but he really came to the limelight after a dominating display over domestic rival Ohara Davies.
World Boxing Super Series (WBSS)
The Tartan Tornado was proving he was ready for the world level as he went on to defeat two former world champions in Miguel Vázquez and Viktor Postol. These displays helped him get a call up to the World Boxing Super Series and gain the opportunity of winning world titles. After a convincing opening win over Ryan Martin, Taylor went on to fight the hard and aggressive Baranchyk for his first world title victory where he did disappoint his home fans.
This led to the Scotsman’s facing highly talented American WBA (Super) light-welterweight champion Regis Prograis in the WBSS Final. An enthralling contest saw arguably two of the best in the division go toe to toe for 12 rounds with Taylor winning by majority decision.
The Scot made a bold move after winning WBSS Muhammad Ali Trophy as he decided to drop trainer Shane McGuigan. Opting to work with trainer Ben Davidson instead going forward.
After a pretty simple mandatory defence against Khongsong, Taylor got his chance to become the first four-belt undisputed champion from the UK. The was a unification fight with the talented and aggressive Jose Ramirez to become undisputed light-welterweight champion, who he knocked down twice in the fight to win by unanimous decision.
Taylor’s career is still relatively young to date and it’s exciting to think about what he could still achieve.
Here is a list of Josh Taylor Accomplishments to date in the professionals and amateur system:
IBF light-welterweight title
WBA (super) light-welterweight title
The Ring Magazine light-welterweight title
WBC light-welterweight title
WBO light-welterweight title
Commonwealth light-welterweight title
2008 – Silver at Pune Commonwealth Youth Games – lightweight
2010 – Silver at Delhi Commonwealth Games – lightweight
2014 – Gold at Glasgow Commonwealth Games – light-welterweight
Josh Taylor’s ‘Tornado’ Boxing Style.
Josh Taylor’s boxing style is so effective due to the intensity he applies on his opponent while applying pressure on both the outside and inside. Another bonus that helps the Scot is his Southpaw stance which he has truly mastered fighting against orthodox fighters, using a variety of powerful hooks and uppercuts to keep his opposition guessing.
A lot of his success comes down to his tremendous positioning, I guess you could say he is always putting his opponent in the face of danger – not too far or too close.
The only time I have seen him truly matched was against fellow Southpaw Regis Prograis in the WBSS final, but even here Taylor’s amateur pedigree and fighting spirit came through to win the bout in my opinion.
The lead right hand
Now like any of the greatest champions, a lot of their work comes off the lead hand. For Josh Taylor, this of course is no different. He has a very varied approach with it along with the positioning of the lead hand.
The Scot will tend to lower the lead hand when at mid-range, where we will see his best work with it. As most of his opponents have been orthodox, (Taylor is a Southpaw). He will try to instead occupy their lead hand with his own. He does this while probing with the jab with feints or even waving in front of them. This in turn stops opponents from getting off their own jab and helps to set up his own combinations.
You will also see him using the double jabs, jabs to the body and even leaping jabs. Interestingly he will sometimes step in with the jab on the inside of his opponents centre line on occasion (which is often discouraged in right vs lefty encounters.) However, if you do this, and use a quick defensive action as soon as you commit, you will often pull it off until your opponents figure it out. Taylor to counter this offensive risk will tend to move out to his right with footwork, duck incoming hooks and tie up or simply use it as a way to start fighting on the inside.
Setting up the Left
Probably Taylor’s most underrated area and that is his powerful left hand.
As discussed above, Taylor will instead try to set this punch up with a probing right-hand jab which follows up with a straight left to the body or up top when he spots an opening – similar to how Errol Spence Jr does this too (a fellow southpaw).
Like any great southpaw, he will try to get his right foot on the outside of his opponent, while throwing the left straight or hook when he is looking to land the punch as the aggressor. Another thing I have noticed is he doesn’t tend to throw too many traditional straight shots but instead prefer looping or angled hooks and even uppercuts. This makes his left hand very unpredictable as it can come from an angle you can’t see the punch or even expect.
The Scotsman will instead try to get up on the inside, which I will explain in more detail below to utilise these punches, however, it’s worth watching his fight against South African Joubert, where we see his left hand in full action:
Now as just touched on, you would think Taylor might be some sort of pressure fight, but Taylor is in fact an excellent aggressive counter puncher, who likes to stand mid to close range in front of his opponent for the most part. This is so it forces his opponent into an exchange that therefore gives him counter punch opportunities.
One very simple counter you will see Taylor use often is just a simple slip to the left or the right before firing a counter punch with either hand depending on what way he slips the punch. See him doing this against Viktor Postol below.
Another great example of him doing this is through footwork, by taking a small half step back before countering back, he did this to perfection in the fight against Ramirez.
Inside Fighting and Body Work
Josh’s fighting spirit really starts to show when he is fighting on the inside and every opponent he has come up against really seems to struggle in my opinion. Taylor will mix it up on the inside by using short powerful hooks and uppercuts to keep his opponent cautious and forcing them to tighten their guard. He will tend not to smother his opponent that much as Taylor likes to give himself enough space to throw these power shots on the inside.
The Scotsman body attacks are also up there with best as he is relentless with targeting the body, especially on the inside. The punch I’ve noticed Taylor likes to set up is the right hook to the body, which he will target when he gets the opposition to tighten up their guard on the inside. He also likes to throw sneaky left uppercut or angled hook to the body while stepping in on the inside which he does often.
A prime example of Taylor’s inside and bodywork came against former world champion Miguel Vázquez in 2017. On this night in Edinburgh, he continually mixed up his inside game, forcing the Mexican to be on the back foot and try to hold his ground. His relentless and changeable hooks and uppercut result in a brilliant finish from the ‘Tartan Tornado’.
Switching Stances and Creating Angles
Now all the above points do have a big impact on how Taylor switches stances and potentially this may also come from his taekwondo background which requires you to change stances more often than not due to kick. Either way, these techniques definitely help Taylor to catch his opponents off guard, to create more punching opportunities at different angles or to help create distance on the outside (if against another southpaw).
Here in the clip below of Taylor against Ohara Davies, who you can see really struggled to adapt and defend himself due to Scotsman intelligently switching back and forth from his natural southpaw stance and to orthodox.
Footwork and defense
The other big part of Josh Taylor’s success in the ring is in fact his tremendous footwork. If you watch any of his fights you will notice that he always moving and never staying in the same place for too long. Especially when he is mid to long-range from his opponent. Instead of moving back in straight lines to allow his opponent to close him down. Taylor is always circling and using lateral movement, which is a big part in terms of how avoids any huge punishment when on the outside.
However, as I’ve discussed in the article already, he does like to engage with his opponent from mid to short range. He, therefore, needs to use other defensive manoeuvres to put him in a position to attack. This includes:
- Parrying with opponents jab
- Using a high guard to block and catch incoming hooks
- Feints to cause hesitation in opponent committing
- Head movement
This is an area, I feel get overlooked due to action-packed offence, but he is in fact one of the very best defensively.
Nastiness in Finishing
Now one of my favourite parts about Josh Taylor is he does have nastiness to him in terms of finishing off opponents. Especially early on in his career with 13 KOs in 18 fights.
But as the opposition has stepped up, had been going the distance, but has still been able to cause some sort of damage on his opponents by knocking them down at some point. The only fighter not gone to the canvas was against Taylor was Prograis.
It is clear the Scotsman has the power in both hands, but it will be interesting to see if he continues to carry this on throughout his career.
Josh Taylor in my opinion is one of the most exciting fighters to come out of Scotland ever and with him still fairly young in his pro career I can only see him getting better over the next few years. It will be interesting to see how he will adapt if he moves up to the welterweight division and if the power will still be there.
If you are looking for ways to fight on the inside properly I highly recommend you watch Taylor’s fights so you learn how to apply pressure correctly while also setting up angles for your punches
Hope you enjoyed this boxing style analysis and were able to take something from his actioned packed style!
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