Josh Taylor brands Edinburgh council ‘a joke’ over lack of arena

World champion thwarted in bid to defend title in his home city

Sunday, 20th September 2020, 1:35 pm
Josh Taylor after his win over Ivan Baranchyk of Russia. The fight took place in Glasgow. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Josh Taylor after his win over Ivan Baranchyk of Russia. The fight took place in Glasgow. Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Most Scottish boxers with aspirations of reaching the top usually daydream about two perfect scenarios.

One involves America, and being announced into the ring by Michael Buffer at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas or at New York’s Madison Square Garden ahead of a world title showdown.

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The other centres around an emotional homecoming, packing out a local venue and being crowned the greatest in front of the people you grew up alongside and who have followed your progress every step of the way.

Josh Taylor would love to defend his world title in Edinburgh. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

Josh Taylor is perhaps unique in that the latter scenario is proving a lot harder to realise than the former. The Pride of Prestonpans already has two world titles and a Las Vegas contest on his record.

A contract signed with Top Rank promotions provides him with the platform to return to the United States at any time.

But Taylor wants to fight in Edinburgh. It was something he pushed for before penning his deal and had that wish granted. The problem is, however, that the city can’t deliver what he needs.

Should the southpaw defeat Apinun Khongsong in London on Saturday, the buzz around a potential clash with stablemate Jose Ramirez for all four super-lightweight belts will grow and grow.

Taylor spies the chance to become the first Scot to be undisputed world champion since Ken Buchanan almost 50 years ago and would love that to happen in his hometown this winter.

With Edinburgh not having a suitable indoor facility, however, it seems the Ramirez bout will need to happen at the other end of the M8, much to his frustration.

“It would be brilliant to have that fight in Edinburgh but at that time of the year where is it going to be?” he asked rhetorically.

“I’ve no problem with having fights in Glasgow as I love the people there and I’ve always had a warm reception. But ultimately you want to fight in your home city if you can as I’m an Edinburgh boy.

“Edinburgh is the capital city and for it not to have an arena for major indoor events is an absolute joke. They’re doing far too many student accommodations all over the place, rather than building the city for the people. Not having an arena in your home city is a joke from Edinburgh council.

“They’re doing up Meadowbank but at the back end where the velodrome was they’re building more accommodation.

“That bit of land there was huge and could have been a big indoor arena.

“I want to have these big nights in my hometown but it’s just not possible at the moment. If we had an indoor arena there would be no issue at all.”

Taylor would be willing to wait until the summer to hold an outside fight at either Easter Road or Edinburgh Castle. And while Hibernian are making positive noises, there has been less encouragement so far from Historic Scotland.

“The castle people have been pretty quiet about it,” he added. “We could have potentially one of the greatest Scottish sporting moments in history taking place and you would think Edinburgh Castle and Historic Scotland would be jumping at the chance to do something like that. So it’s quite frustrating. Hibs seem to be more up for it. We could get 20,000 at least in there and it would be amazing. But the feedback from the castle has been pretty cold which is a shame.”

A fight at such a famous venue would undoubtedly propel Taylor into the wider Scottish consciousness, something that doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. “Boxing fans and sports fans know who I am but I think I deserve to be a wee bit more popular and more of a name in Scotland,” he said.

“I don’t live for that and it’s not something that hugely bothers me but I just think if I were English or Irish I’d be seen as the best thing since sliced bread.

“You look at Ricky Burns, a three-weight world champion. And outside of boxing and a few other sports fans, do people really know who he is? Probably not. And that’s a crying shame when you consider what we’ve both achieved for Scottish sport.”

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