Unified junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor signs with Top Rank, opens the door to big fights

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Unified junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor has made a power move that's expected to produce big fights in 2020. 

Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs), a native of Scotland who captured a pair of 140-pound titles in 2019 en route to winning the World Boxing Super Series tournament, signed a multi-year promotional agreement on Thursday with Top Rank that will see him fight exclusively on ESPN. 

"A new year, a new decade with lots of new beginnings, and I'm starting this new decade with a big bang," Taylor said. "2019 was a huge year for me, but 2020 looks set to be even bigger and I'm delighted to have signed a deal with Top Rank and ESPN and an advisory contract with MTK Global. I believe I am with the best team to take my career to the next level. I couldn't ask for a better partnership, and I know the future looks bright with this team lighting the way."

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The 29-year-old Taylor, nicknamed "The Tartan Tornado," was in the running for fighter of the year in 2019 thanks to division wins over unbeatens Ivan Baranchyk and Regis Prograis. The tall southpaw made a strong case for consideration as the best fighter in the world at 140 pounds, stoking interest in fans to see him unify further against unbeaten Jose Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs), who holds the WBC and WBO titles. 

A Taylor-Ramirez fight to declare the undisputed junior welterweight champion would be one of the biggest fights the sport can make in 2020 from the standpoint of importance and it's one much more likely now that both fighters are under the same promotional banner. 

"Josh Taylor is one of the world's best fighters, and he is a fight fan's fighter, a tough guy willing to fight anyone we put in front of him," said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. "Whether it's Jose Ramirez in a fight for the undisputed junior welterweight title or any of the welterweights out there, he's ready for the biggest challenges. I want to thank Josh's advisors at MTK Global, who have the same goal as us, which is to make him an international star."

Taylor joining forces with Top Rank could also be big news for the future of unbeaten WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford. Despite his standing as quite possibly the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Crawford is decidedly out of big-name opponents given the divide between Arum and Premier Boxing Champions founder Al Haymon. 

Should Taylor move up to 147 pounds, a matchup against Crawford would be a delight to serious boxing fans. A future rematch with Prograis, who is a free agent from a broadcasting standpoint, could also be a desirable fight given that their October meeting, a majority decision, went down as one of the best fights of the year. 

Taylor turned pro in 2015 and announced himself as a legitimate title threat at 140 pounds three years later when he won a decision over former champion Viktor Postol and followed it up with a knockout of then-unbeaten prospect Ryan Martin.

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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