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Josh Taylor vs. Ryan Martin – preview & analysis


By Mike Smith: Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KOs) comes into Saturday’s fight against Josh “Tartan Tornado” Taylor (13-0, 11 KOs) as the underdog in their quarterfinal fight in the World Boxing Super Series tournament at the SSE Arena in Glasgow, Scotland.

(Photo credit: World Boxing Super Series)

Martin’s trainer Abel Sanchez is really high on him, and he sees him as a fighter that is on his way to winning the WBSS tournament, and taking over the division.

Taylor will have his World Boxing Council Silver 140 lb title on the line. That belt is one of the WBC’s trinket titles they give out. It doesn’t mean much, but it’s something he can march into the ring with on Saturday night to help validate him in the eyes of his boxing fans and the judges.

Martin’s trainer Abel Sanchez sees him as the better athlete than 2012 Olympian Taylor, even though he doesn’t have the same pedigree as he possesses.

“It’s motivated him so much that he’s at a different level,” Sanchez said to Behind The Gloves about Ryan Martin. “He’s thinking better, he’s working hard and doing things we’ve been asking him to. He was doing things at a slower pace [before]. I see Ryan Martin as the dark horse in this fight, but I see him as the better athlete. I see him as the winner of the tournament, and he’s going to be champion. He’s got the skills to do it. It’s just a matter of going into someone’s backyard. He has no problems making 140. We want to see what we can do at 140. I know he’s going to win a belt at 140,” Sanchez said about Martin.

Going into Taylor’s backyard this Saturday in Glasgow means that he might need to knock him out for him to have a chance of winning. Taylor’s last opponent was Briedis Prescott, who he beat by an eight round unanimous decision last May. Going from fighting Prescott to facing Taylor in Scotland is a MAJOR step up for ‘Blue Chip’ Martin. You’d like to have seen the 25-year-old Martin have fought a few talented contenders before taking on a fighter like the 5’10” Taylor. At least that way, Martin would have had the chance to show what he’s got against a good fighter before taking on one of the best in the 140 lb weight class.

Taylor was in the same situation Martin is now up until recently. Taylor has shown his talent in defeating former lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez and former WBC light welterweight champion Viktor Postol. Taylor’s size and power was too much for Vazquez last year in stopping him in the 9th round in an impressive performance. Against Postol, Taylor had a lot more problems in defeating Postol by a 12 round unanimous decision last June. The scores were very wide for a fight that appeared to be won by Taylor by a couple of rounds. The judges scored it a 117-110, 118-110 and 119-108 , all for Taylor. If we see similar judging this Saturday night, then Martin is going to need a knockout for him to have a chance of beating Taylor.

Besides Taylor’s wins over Vazquez and Postol, he also has an impressive win over Ohara Davies in stopping him in the 7th round. Taylor looks good and has a lot of punching power. He’s not as athletic as Martin, but then again, there’s not too many fighters in the division that possess that kind of innate talent. Taylor has the amateur and pro experience, and he’s fighting at home. Martin isn’t a huge knockout artist, and he’s going to need to be for him to have a chance of winning the fight.

Without having fought anyone yet in the tourney, Taylor is already being picked to win the whole thing by the boxing fans. For Taylor to do that, he’s going to need to find a way to neutralize the punching power and athletic talent of the 5’11” Martin on Saturday night and then face IBF light welterweight champion Ivan Baranchyk in the semifinal. Baranchyk will prove to be a very hard fight for Taylor, considering that the Russian fighter is a punching machine with excellent power. Taylor doesn’t possess the same ability to throw nonstop punches the way that Baranchyk does. If Taylor can’t keep up with Baranhyk’s high work rate, he’s going to lose the fight. There’s no two ways about it. Baranchyk will make sure the judges don’t have a chance to score the fight because he’ll punch Taylor’s lights out. Wins over Martin and Baranchyk will put Taylor in the final against the winner of the Regis Prograis vs. Kiryl Relikh fight. If Taylor is going to lose, it’s in the final against Prograis, who is viewed as the best fighter in the WBSS tournament by the boxing fans. If Taylor hadn’t looked so bad against Postol, he’d be seen as the favorite in the tournament, but unfortunately he looked flawed and beatable in his last fight. Prograis beat former WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan last Saturday night in New Orleans.

Martin’s management should have stepped him up already to get him ready for Taylor, but they’ve decided to go slow with him for some reason. He’s been moved at incremental steps.

Martin is a little younger than the 27-year-old Taylor. As I mentioned, Martin doesn’t possess the experience, but he does possess the athleticism that could make up for it. Unfortunately, Martin is stepping into the lion’s den on Saturday night, and that could mean that he’ll be starting out six rounds down on the judges’ scorecards. Unless Martin starts rallying immediately, he’s going to likely wind up losing the fight by a decision. Taylor’s boxing fans won’t complain about the decision but the fans worldwide won’t be happy. Hopefully the fight doesn’t stain the sport with yet another controversial decision but you can’t rule it out. The scores for Taylor’s last fight against Postol were embarrassingly bad.

If not for the tournament, we likely wouldn’t see Martin and Taylor facing each other this early. Martin has looked great in his fights against lower level Opposition. It’s going to be interesting to see how well Martin does against someone with talent in Taylor. Likewise, Taylor has looked good in beating old timers like Postol and Vazquez, but this is his first fight facing a younger fighter with size, power and talent. Martin isn’t going to let Taylor roll over him on Saturday night. For the first time in Taylor’s career, he’ll be facing a guy with size, speed, power and youth.

Martin really wants this fight. If Taylor is going to win, he’s going to need to tough it out because Martin is going to be taking the fight to him from start to finish. Martin knows what will happen to him if he leaves it in the hands of the judges.

Taylor should win based on his experience and his hometown advantage, but you can’t rule out an upset. Martin is going to be motivated for the fight, and he’ll be looking to get the most out of his body. With Martin being the taller, more athletic guy, he could win the fight based on that. You can’t dismiss the importance of athletic talent in a fight, especially when the fighter is younger, faster and taller.

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