Josh Taylor sets sights on welterweight stars after Jose Ramirez unification bid

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'I want the guys with the belts up at the next weight'

In the wake of his epic victory over the silky American Regis Prograis, the right eye of Josh Taylor had closed over completely, but opening up for Scotland's world light-welterweight champion was a whole world of possibilities.

Headlining the bill for a raucous crowd at the O2 Arena and many more on pay-per-view TV, Taylor and Prograis served up 12 rounds of such brilliant technical excellence that many boxing experts immediately declared the bout a contender for fight of the year.

A points victory for the Scot over the previously unbeaten Prograis has launched him into the rarefied position of being able to call out some of the finest boxers on the planet.

"I'd like to fight Terence Crawford up at 147lb, I think that would be a great fight," Taylor says boldly of facing the man many consider to be the single greatest pound-for-pound fighter right now. Scottish fans will remember the masterclass Crawford subjected Scotland's last world champion, Ricky Burns, to when taking his WBO lightweight belt in Glasgow back in 2014.

That performance was just a hint of what was to come from Crawford, who has since gone on to become a three-weight world champion. The American currently operates at welterweight, and with the likes of Errol Spence Jnr, Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao and Danny Garcia also swimming in those particular waters, the appeal of moving up in weight is obvious for Taylor.

"It's not even just about title fights because there are other fights up there that are massive fights just because there are huge names at welterweight," Taylor told BBC Scotland.

"It's really exciting times ahead. I definitely will move up to 147 at one point. I need to push on and keep setting goals and I want the guys with the belts up at the next weight. That's the longer-term goal."

Before moving up to chase potential megafights against some of the biggest names in boxing, Taylor has business to take care of at super-lightweight. He is in possession of two of the four world title belts but Jose Ramirez, the undefeated American, holds the WBC and WBO versions and Taylor wants them.

Ramirez is booked in to face Viktor Postol, who forced Taylor to dig deep in registering a points victory in June 2018, in February so any potential unification bout would not take place until later in 2020.

Having built up momentum with four impressive victories - against Postol, Ryan Martin, Ivan Baranchyk and Prograis - in the past 18 months, Taylor wants to avoid the pitfalls of ring inactivity.

"I've got good momentum going now so it's really important to keep it going, not to stop and try and get started again," he explains. "It's time to start getting back to the gym and keep the momentum going, keep the fitness up and sharpening the tools.

"When I get the shout to get back into camp I want to hit the ground running in terms of fitness, my weight is good and things like that.

"People know my name now so I can push on now to have big fights, I can push for that undisputed fight with Ramirez. That's what we're looking to do.

"Hopefully, I'll have a fight before then early next year and then collect all the belts. That's the goal and it's going to be amazing. A really exciting year ahead."

His stock is undoubtedly on the rise, though missing out on boxing's pound-for-pound top 10 provoked a stinging response from Taylor on social media.

"I think I deserved the recognition," he says. "My last four opponents their combined record has been 94 fights with only one loss, so they've all been world class fights.

"I think maybe it's because I've not had the big platform for my fights, I'm not sure. I should have at least been close to getting into it. I think if I was someone else or from somewhere else I would have been in there no questions asked. It is what it is."

Should the man from Prestonpans take care of Ramirez and unify the 140lb division, and go on to wreak some havoc among the stars lying in wait at welterweight, it will be impossible to omit Taylor from any list of the world's top fighters.

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