Josh Taylor v Ohara Davies: Setting an Example
By Luke Byron
Ohara Davies will travel to Glasgow to face British super-lightweight rival Josh Taylor on July 8th after months of back and forth on Twitter and other various social media between the two teams. ‘Two Tanks’ Ohara Davies currently holds a record of 15-0 with 12KOs to his name, and in the opposing corner Josh Taylor heads into the contest with a record of 9-0 with 8KOs.
It’s rare that we see two high level prospects square off against each other in boxing, and even less so when the pair are advised by different promoters; In this instance, Ohara Davies is promoted by Matchroom Sport (The promotional outfit headed by the central figure in British Boxing, Eddie Hearn) and Josh Taylor is overlooked by Cyclone Promotions (The stable run by the legendary retired Irish fighter, Barry McGuigan).
The crux of keeping your ‘0’ seems to be fading, and with that we in turn should begin to get the biggest fights possible – look no further than Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez who prepare to lay it all on the line on September 16th. In Britain alone, our world champions George Groves (WBA Super Middleweight Champion), James DeGale (IBF Super Middleweight Champion), Tony Bellew (WBC Cruiserweight Champion Emeritus), Lee Selby (IBF Featherweight Champion) and Jamie McDonnell (WBA Bantamweight Champion) all share something in common in regards to the fact that all of them had lost before going on to achieve world honours. Add to that fighters such as Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns and I’m sure you get the point – either fighter losing here would not be the end of the world, and they’re likely to pick up a whole new fanbase in the process.
Here in Britain, we love few things more than a great domestic dust-up; Carl Froch v George Groves is a perfect example of this – a fight which sold out Wembley Stadium but had very little demand overseas. Ofcourse, I get the argument that that wasn’t a fight between two prospects but that’s the exact issue at hand here. You need to go back as far as 21st May 2011 when a 12-0 George Groves stepped in as the underdog against a 10-0 James Degale to really find a match up that compares with the one we’ve got next Saturday night. The next closest comparisons that I can think of are 20-0 Billy Joe Saunders against 18-0 Chris Eubank Jr, and 17-0 Callum Smith facing 21-0 Rocky Fielding – the previously listed fights took place in 2014 and 2015 respectively; with the unbelievable pool of talent that we have in Britain, this simply isn’t good enough.
Within the last two years there are several examples of fights that could have been made; the most notable names that spring to mind are Charlie Edwards and Andrew Selby who were touted to fight last year for the British title that had been previously held by Kevin Satchell. The pair are in a particularly shallow division worldwide, even more so domestically and so it was disappointing to see Edwards say that he would instead let the fight marinade and look to get more money in the future. Earlier this week, British Cruiserweights Lawrence Okolie and Isaac Chamberlain clashed at an open workout being used to promote the ‘Summertime Brawl’ show this Saturday at the O2 Arena. The pair are fighting on the same card against different opponents this weekend and all the ingredients appear to be there towards for an enticing scrap before the end of the year. Eddie Hearn was quick to distance the idea in an interview with IFLTV after the incident, citing a desire to ‘build the fight properly’ and make more money for everyone involved.
I respect every boxer that has the courage to step between the ropes and put their health on the line for our entertainment, but I feel I’m speaking for other fans also when I say that it’s incredibly draining to hear that a fight won’t be made as ‘everyone wants to make more money down the line’ while we’re still expected to dig deep into our pockets to pay to see the respective boxers knock out a journeyman in a matter of rounds instead. We have a rich pool of talent here in Britain and it would be great to see our fighters (and management) back themselves and then you can face the same fighters further down the line for more money as you’ve evolved as a fighter. Nobody is expecting to see fighters go above their own level too early on in their career, but in the examples listed above, the fighters are at the same stage in their careers and surely they would gain more from facing this level of opposition rather than a guy walking away from his kebab van to fall over in a round and help build your record to 27-0.
I think the British title being pushed more by promoters would be a good way of kicking off some change, and it would allow their fighters to face some tough local prospects before moving on; Sam Eggington is a prime example having faced Singleton, Foot, Evans, Skeete and Gavin locally before moving on to beat Paulie Malignaggi and be ranked the top welterweight in the country by Boxrec (Eggington lost to Skeete and took one fight to get back in the swing of things before getting back amongst it). Eggington v Gavin was a perfect example of a great domestic fight.
We can only hope that Ohara Davies and Josh Taylor have set an example for the rest of Britain and that others will follow suit – both teams deserve huge credit. If we’re lucky then the styles will gel and the spectacle can get people talking – the likes of Selby v Edwards, Okolie v Chamberlain, Catterrall v Davies Jr and Buglioni v Yarde would certainly be fights that nobody could complain about, regardless of result. Eddie Hearn especially has signed several Olympians this year and it would be great to see them fight some other well matched prospects on the way up.