THE closer Josh Taylor has got to his world title fight the further away it has seemed. Promised a shot at Jose Ramirez’s WBC Super Lightweight belt should he take care of Ukraine’s Viktor Postol last June, the Scot did the business only to dance sideways instead, entering the World Boxing Super Series and subjecting himself to a second title eliminator, against Ryan Martin of the USA.

Then, just when he should have been finally knuckling down to prepare for his IBF world title tilt against Ivan Baranchyk, it was time for the Beast of Belarus to do the shadow boxing, individuals connected with the 26-year-old claiming he had pulled out of the competition and would be doing anything but turning up in Glasgow to put his new belt on the line. Having apparently seen the light and thrown his lot in with respected trainer Freddie Roach, let’s just say Taylor can’t wait to see Ivan Baranchyk in person when the fight week formalities get under way in earnest. “It will be good to see him come over,” says Taylor. “Size him up in fight week and get in his head a little bit.”

Those last yards are always the hardest but in truth four years and 15 fights isn’t as long a journey through the pro ranks as you might imagine. Taylor actually feels fortunate to get his world title shot this early and is convincing when he says his preparation for the fight hasn’t been affected by all this prolonged doubt over Baranchyk’s intentions. The bout will be beamed live on Sky Sports.

“I have basically had to have two world title eliminators instead of just the one,” said Taylor. “So I am really excited and happy that the big shot is almost here, and I am finally going to get the chance to make my dream into a reality. I can’t wait to get in there next week.

“I always knew I was going to get the chance,” he added. “At the top level, the top guys don’t really tend to duck fights. I knew it would be hard for Baranchyk to pull out. I knew I was getting close, that it would either be this year or next year. So I always kept positive. And I kept training. I’m actually surprised - my first world title shot has come quicker than I imagined it would when I first turned pro.

“There hasn’t really been any disruption. We have been preparing for Baranchyk all the way through, even if there was some slight confusion. We varied up the sparring a bit but we were always gearing for him.”

Victory this Saturday would propel Taylor into some lofty terrain. Bidding to become Scotland’s first world champion since Ricky Burns relinquished his WBA belt in this weight category to Julius Indongo in April 2017, quite an achievement for a young man for whom boxing training at Meadowbank Sports Centre was at first mainly a way to keep himself fit for his football and Taekwondo.

While he has aspirations of unifying a division in the way one of his mentors Ken Buchanan once did, but he is simply not motivated by measuring his achievements against Scotland’s other greats of the fight game.

“Obviously I would be very proud even to be in the same sentence as those guys,” he said. “And I am always delighted to be doing Scotland proud. But I really am not interested in comparing myself against these guys. All of these guys have had different careers and have all done well in their own right. Ken Buchanan was undisputed world champion in a time when there only was only two champions, he went over to America and fought all his big fights out there.

“They were a different breed back then, tougher guys,” he added. “Jim Watt, Scott Harrison, Ricky Burns, all these guys, they have had great careers. I just want to be the best fighter I can be and take it as far as I can go. If that means becoming undisputed world champion then so be it.”

Taylor has a pathway marked out in his mind. After Baranchyk a week on Saturday, it runs through Regis Prograis at a venue tbc in October/November. Then it could be Ramirez to unify the division before moving up to face mega fights such as Terence Crawford at welterweight. But it all begins against Baranchyk.

“I saw bits and bobs of the Prograis fight [a stoppage against another Belarusian Kiryl Relikh],” said Taylor. “I thought he looked okay, he obviously has great head movement.

“Iva BBut he was fighting against Relikh, who had about 40 odd pounds to lose for that fight and he looked so weight drained, old, weak, fragile, so it wasn’t that good. He [Prograis] is a good fighter, he has good movement, good skills. But if - or when - I get though this Saturday week, I feel I have the beating of Prograis as well, absolutely no problem.”

“If anything I’ve been even more disciplined with my diet and my training this time,” he said. “I have been getting to bed even earlier at night. I’ve kept my weight down, been more focused and more driven. But I’ve not chosen my ring walk music yet. I always do that last minute.”