It’s less than two weeks until Josh Taylor is back in the ring for the first time in 11 months – and he’s confident fighting without fans won’t faze him.
The Scot’s last fight saw him beat Regis Prograis to become world champions, lift two belts and win the ALi Trophy in front of a packed O2 Arena but lockdown forced Taylor into the longest break of his career so far.
Now, the IBF and WBA World champion will defend his titles against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong at a studio in London on September 26, and he’s doing everything he can to prepare for the unusual environment.
“It will be a little bit strange walking out and there being no fans but the cameras being there,” he told STV.
“We’ve been replicating it in the gym. There’s been no music on in the gym when we’re doing pads and sparring. There’s nobody talking. It replicates the kind of experience it’s going to be.
“Where the gym is in the room is… it’s a small room and quite enclosed. So we’re making it feel like there’s just the ring and nothing else.”
Though the conditions will be unfamiliar, Taylor believes the danger of his opponent, who has 13 KOs and no defeats in his 16 fights so far.
“It’s not going to be an issue, I don’t think,” he said. “We’ve prepared for it as best as possible and it won’t faze me at all.
“Once you’re in a ring and you’ve got someone throwing punches at you and trying to take your head off, you soon switch on. There’ll be no problems concentrating.”
In addition to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the Prestonpans fighter has also seen a complete change behind the scenes after signing with US promoter Top Rank and says that circumstances have combined to bring a “freshness” ahead of the next stage of his careeer, which he hopes will see him unify the belts.
“I’ve been training in Spain for a while and now in London and I’ve been enjoying it,” he explained. “It’s a fresh start for me.
“Everything’s brand new around me: new management, new promotion, new coach. I’ve got a nutritionist on board now as well. It’s all fresh and I’m loving every minute. A new chapter.
“The nutritionist has been great. I’m getting an extra 5% or 10% that I didn’t know was there. I can’t wait to get in the ring.
“It has been a long 11 months but the break has been welcome. It’s been five years of training camp upon training camp to get to where I am in 17 fights.
That’s the first break I’ve had since I turned pro.
“It let my body and recharge and now I’m like a Duracell bunny again, ready to go, full of energy and full of life.”