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Josh Taylor on mistake he made against bitter rival – and why he won't make it again in Leeds rematch: 'I had just climbed my Everest, then took Jack Catterall too lightly'

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When Josh Taylor travelled to the bright lights of Las Vegas and beat Jose Ramirez in May 2021, he was on top of the world.

After comprehensively outboxing Ramirez to become undisputed light-welterweight world champion, the Scot was draped in gold as he left Sin City.

The Tartan Tornado had spent the previous three years blowing away all and sundry in the light-welterweight ranks, taking the sport by storm.

As the first British fighter to unify a division in the four-belt era, it remains his finest hour. In his own words, Taylor had climbed his Everest.

The fact that he had reached the pinnacle of the sport after just 18 fights as a professional spoke of the remarkable pace at which his career had progressed.

Jack Catterall grabbed Josh Taylor by the throat during a promotional event for their rematch

Jack Catterall grabbed Josh Taylor by the throat during a promotional event for their rematch

When he returned to Scotland to fight Jack Catterall in February 2022, it was billed as Taylor’s big homecoming.

It was his first fight on home soil in three years. But, in his heart of hearts, Taylor knew something wasn’t right.

This was a match-up that didn’t get the juices flowing. For the first time in his career, he had allowed a sense of complacency to creep in.

‘Going into the last fight, I was coming down off the top of Everest,’ said Taylor yesterday as he and Catterall faced off in typically explosive style.

‘I had just climbed my Everest and held all the belts.

‘There was talk of moving up and fighting Terence Crawford and all this kind of thing. I was obviously excited about all of that, then I came back and fought Jack Catterall.

‘He hadn’t fought anyone. I just thought: “I’ll get fit and I’ll beat this guy”. That’s probably the mistake I made. I underestimated him and I underestimated how competitive he could be.

‘I won’t be making that mistake this time, both mentally and physically. This time, we are going to see the best version of what I can do as a fighter.

Their recent confrontation was almost a carbon copy from their weigh in back in 2022

Their recent confrontation was almost a carbon copy from their weigh in back in 2022

‘It obviously should have happened right away and it’s been a long time coming. But it’s here now. Better late than never.’

Taylor and Catterall were in Edinburgh at a promotional event for their much-anticipated rematch in Leeds on April 27.

Unlike two years ago, when all of Taylor’s belts were on the line, there is no gold at stake this time around. This is simply a grudge match as much as anything else.

Taylor is not the hot ticket he was two years ago and lost his last remaining belt when he was soundly beaten by Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden last June.

Nonetheless, he insists there was a lack of appreciation over what he had achieved. Unifying a fiercely competitive division at 140lbs remains one of the great feats by any British boxer of the modern era.

‘That’s always been the case —I’ve never really had the respect for my achievements in the sport,’ he said.

‘Even before the Ohara Davies fight (in 2017), people were saying: “Oh, is this maybe a step too far?” But I took him to bits.

‘Then it was the same with Viktor Postol. I was fighting some of the best in the world — and beating them — after only like 12 or 13 fights.

‘I’ve never had the props that I’ve deserved, given my achievements in the sport. But it doesn’t bother me.

‘I’m not in this sport to get a pat on the back. I’m in it to be the best I can possibly be. I want to be the best in the world. That’s why I’m still in the game.

The bitter rivals fight on April 27 in a rematch to their bout in 2022 - where Taylor prevailed

The bitter rivals fight on April 27 in a rematch to their bout in 2022 – where Taylor prevailed

‘I could retire tomorrow and walk away a happy man. I’ve a had a career that’s one in 65 million.

‘I’m the only undisputed champion the UK has had in recent years. I’m the first in the four-belt era from the UK to do it.’

Now 33, Taylor needs to set the record straight against Catterall after prevailing via a hugely controversial split decision in their first fight.

The pair have been at loggerheads on social media, goading each other and trading insults for much of the past two years.

Taylor admits some of the exchanges have been in poor taste. But he feels it’s easy for people to point the finger when they don’t know the full extent of the abuse.

‘It’s been going on for a couple of years now and the online hate and abuse I’ve had has been unbelievable,’ said the Prestonpans puncher. ‘It’s not just me. I can take it. But to get threats to my family, my wife and little sister, getting their places of work put online and threats of violence. That’s not on.

‘It’s a sport — families should be kept out of it. Have a dig at me if you want, but keep families out of it. It’s tough seeing how it affected them.

‘It’s a different ball game then, and that’s when I did get defensive and start giving some back.

‘They didn’t like it but all of a sudden I’m the a******* or the scumbag. Wait a minute, you’ve just been threatening my wife.

‘I probably should have kept my mouth shut but when it affects your family, it riles you up.

The 33-year-old wants to set the record straight after controversial split decision in first bout

The 33-year-old wants to set the record straight after controversial split decision in first bout

‘Some of the media down south stirred it up after the last fight. They talked about corruption and brown envelopes, all this nonsense, and that’s when I started getting it.

‘I saw the nature of the abuse changing. It was “you’re corrupt” or “you’re paying folk off”. It was just nonsense.’

Security had to intervene to separate Taylor and Catterall at yesterday’s press conference, where they were joined by promoter Eddie Hearn.

The fight will be promoted largely by Hearn and his Matchroom company, with DAZN holding exclusive rights to show the fight, albeit it won’t be pay per view.

Catterall tried to wind Taylor up by posing in a Hearts jersey, but it was given short shrift by the Hibs supporter.

‘Jack’s not even intelligent enough to wind me up or insult me,’ said Taylor. ‘Apparently he’s got a Hearts jersey or someone gave it to him.

‘Apparently his manager knows Andy Halliday or something, but I honestly couldn’t care less.

‘He can turn up with a Hearts top all he wants. Lee McGregor is one of my best mates and he’s a Jambo.

‘I don’t give a s*** who supports who. I like to watch football sometimes and I go and watch Hibs now and again when I get the chance.

‘But that’s it. This isn’t Hearts vs Hibs or Scotland vs England. It’s Taylor vs Catterall — and I’m going to smash his head in.’

Taylor is confident of reigniting his career and silencing what is likely to be a boisterous home crowd in favour of Catterall.

Taylor is looking to bounce back from the first loss of his career to Teofimo Lopez (left)

Taylor is looking to bounce back from the first loss of his career to Teofimo Lopez (left)

The Englishman hails from Chorley in Lancashire, and Leeds is billed as neutral ground, but it’s far more of a home fight for Catterall than it is for Taylor.

‘I’m honestly not bothered,’ said the Scot. ‘I’m used to going to other people’s venues and home countries.

‘I’ve been all over the world and been in hostile environments. If anything, I’ll relish it.

‘I’ll relish being the bad guy down there, but I’ll still have an army of fans coming down with me from Scotland.’