The War Report: Watch your back (Week 27, 2017)
“He’s going to look silly on Saturday because I’m in serious shape and have been sparring really well. He’s got to back his words up on Saturday and he’ll be eating them. He can say what he wants but, if he comes up to me close, I’m going to go mad with him and he’ll feel a right hook in his face.” – Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor
Once eating that right hook from Taylor in the seventh round, Ohara Davies sat there on the mat to collect himself and think about how badly things have gone for him in this feud. As Davies was fixated in the aforementioned position, all but one person was going nuts after Taylor landed the most meaningful punch of the fight. Standing with hands on hips, promoter Eddie Hearn (Matchroom Boxing) stuck out among the raving Scottish contingent, who were reveling in the fact that their prospect from Edinburgh was dominating the brash contender from London. This domestic junior welterweight scrap was born on Twitter, built on words and broadcast over terrestrial cable in the U.K., seen by many. What they were seeing in this moment was a brash, undefeated prospect, forced to remain quiet while referee Howard John Foster shouted to 10.
It wasn’t the first time Foster had to give Davies a count either. In the tail end of the third, Davies took a knee after a precise jab from Taylor buckled his leg. It was a conscious moment for Davies to remain aware and let the last 10 seconds run out but that was his only strategy that seemed to work on Saturday night. Davies, 15-1 (12), presented his awkward style the best he could to Taylor, with his shoulder on a roll and his hooks coming from all angles. Those shots were hard-pressed not to find arms and gloves, however, and were the exact opposite of the tightly-knit counterpunches from the southpaw. The Tartan Tornado’s left hand consistently touched Davies’ body from jump and the shots led to toe-to-toe exchanges that benefited the stronger, sharper puncher. Taylor, 10–0 (9), who turned pro just two years ago, was shining in his first step-up fight and, while he reluctantly engaged in the verbal squabble leading up to the fight, the softer-spoken man was backing up his words.
“This is someone I really want to shut up,” said Davies about Taylor beforehand, a PG version of the many other things that have been said. “I want to shut his mouth and his coach’s mouth. I think he’s a bum and I think the whole of Cyclone Promotions are bums.”
Barry McGuigan, Taylor’s promoter, could be seen seated a couple spots away from Hearn and, while the former featherweight champion is always animated during a fight, his excited disposition was opposite that of his counterpart. The two promoters have a feud of their own and, after McGuigan won the promotional rights of this fight in a purse bid, Hearn had been accused of doing the bare minimum of promoting the event. He also sat quietly at ringside and, while there wasn’t much reason for him to cheer, he finally had a reason to get up after Taylor landed that perfect right hand.
Davies, 25, didn’t seem badly dazed from the shot and, while Foster counted to 10, the former subtly shook his head before soaking it in on his backside for awhile. His legs had enough strength to squat upward with ample time but, once action resumed, he was checked out. Taylor stormed forward with a one-two and, after it connected, Davies seemed to paw at his eye in a panic before turning away into a complete retreat. Taylor pounced on him before Foster could get in the way and, by the end of the short barrage, Davies was hunched over in a corner, defenseless. Once Foster got there, Davies stood up in awe, as Taylor was immediately lifted up by his team, knowing he would have to swallow his pride in the aftermath.
Congrats to Taylor and his Team, sometimes in life you take Ls, was quite embarrassing but this is entertainment and I will be back #Boxing
— Ohara Davies (@OharaDavies) July 8, 2017
Taylor, 26, couldn’t have done any better against Davies and the built-up animosity had him lunging forward with Davies’ back halfway facing him. It was a savage moment for some, as Davies clearly had enough but that’s why the final advice from the referee before every fight is to watch your back.
That’s also what happens when you piss someone off.