A final spot in the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals is up for grabs in the Super Lightweight division, and vying for that is two hot prospects from either side of the Atlantic.
One is Scottish superstar, Josh Taylor, born in Edinburgh and fighting in neighbouring city, Glasgow. Meanwhile the visitor is Tennessee born Ryan Martin, a physically imposing figure in a young 140lb division.
The American is a naturally gifted 25-year old. Tall for the weight at 5’11” he has gone under the radar for much of his young career, but pitted on many world championship undercards, ‘Blue Chip’ has amassed 22 straight wins.
Notable victories in his 5 year career have come against Bryant Cruz (W TKO 8), Marcos Jimenez (W UD 10), Francisco Rojo (W SD 10) and Breidis Prescott (W UD 8).
His greatest successes have come on the cards, which highlights his most obvious route to a victory on Saturday night, but the similarly tall Taylor 13-0(11KO’s) will feel in confident mood with his notable edge in power and experience.
But just because Taylor’s 85% knockout ratio suggests he hits hard, he is not just simply a puncher.
In fact his power is not his greatest attribute. His high-level experience in the amateur’s has taught him plenty about slipping punches while remaining in range to counter. ‘The Tartan Tornado’ has mastered lateral movement and precise punch picking, and is now projected as one of the finest prospects in world boxing.
Taylor did not wait long to step up in levels, destroying the tough Dave Ryan (W TKO 5) to claim the Commonwealth strap. Wins over Warren Joubert (W TKO 6) and Miguel Vazquez (W KO 9) followed, with the sweetest of all his wins wedged in-between against Ohara Davies (W TKO 7).
His last win was by far his best, but it was the closest he had been pushed in his professional career.
A date with Viktor Postol (W UD 12) was Taylor’s first taste of world-class boxing, and he was pushed all the way only for three ridiculously wide scorecards to mare what was a fantastic fight that Taylor managed to dig out in the championship rounds.
It was the sort of test that has many believing that Taylor is the favourite in this tournament, and it was a test that Martin 22-0(12KO’s) may well have needed himself prior to meeting some of the best Super Lightweights on the planet.
Martin is capable of being a world-class operator with a fine career, but at this stage he does not possess the necessary experience to overcome an all-round boxer like Taylor.
Martin can start well, and baring more poor judging, should be about level at the halfway stage. But Taylor’s class will begin to show, and some of the lessons he learnt against Postol will begin to come to the forth as he hustles his way to a commanding lead.
The American will be brave enough to survive a few hairy moments in the latter stages, his heart and grit earning him many plaudits, and those attributes he will learn in the ring with Taylor will take him far.
But his time in the World Boxing Super Series will come to an end at the end of 12 entertaining rounds.
Taylor takes a unanimous decision to set up a sizzling semi-final with newly crowned IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk – that one could just be a little special.