In fact, the crowd at the OVO Hydro wasn’t so much reciting that script word for word as singing it, as all the familiar tunes echoed around the arena before the Scottish champion and his English challenger emerged for the main event.
Then came the pantomime boos as Catterall took to the ring. He might have preferred a greeting from the Hydra than the Hydro, in fact, facing a frightening reception as he quickly made his way down the ramp and through the ropes. As deafening as the response was, the cheers for Taylor were somehow even louder as the champion marched to the ring.
But that is when things began to go awry. Catterall might not have managed to tear up the script, but for the best part of 50 minutes, he was smudging the ink, crumpling the paper and doing his best to rewrite Saturday night’s expected story.
As much as the Englishman might have altered, the ending stayed the same, reading: Josh Taylor def. Jack Catterall to remain undisputed super-lightweight champion.
It’s just that it was no fitting ending for what had played out before the 12,000 fans in the sold-out Hydro, with Catterall denied a deserved victory on the judges’ scorecards, which favoured Taylor via split decision.
The atmosphere inside the arena did not actually seem to intimidate Catterall, as he established an early lead by sticking behind his jab and constructing slick combinations, all the while finding space in the middle of the ring despite Taylor’s attempts to back up his fellow southpaw against the ropes and against a figurative wall.
Taylor had his moments and also appeared to have a power advantage, but a composed Catterall remained as unfazed by the champion’s offence as he was by the raucousness of the crowd. While Catterall crafted clean combinations, Taylor was struggling to time his own left hand, his visitor frequently ducking and forcing the 31-year-old to punch downwards.
The home favourite gradually began to make Catterall pay for those manoeuvres, though, by landing to the body with right hooks, which proved Taylor’s most effective attack of the evening. Still, he could barely connect cleanly with that left straight.
As the midway point arrived, blood began to trickle down Taylor’s cheek from a cut around his right eye. Catterall was only getting more accurate, although the contest was also bitty at times, with the referee warning both men for excessive force in the clinch.
Those warnings would give way to a docked point for each fighter, but not before the most significant moment of the fight.
In the eighth round, as Taylor looked to make up for a deficiency of deft with an abundance of aggression, the champion was floored.
Catterall timed a left hand well to send the Scot to his knees, and an elating home victory for Taylor looked to be slipping further and further out of reach. A first defeat looked to be creeping into focus.
Taylor was soon back to his feet and even rallied impressively, connecting with a series of spiteful hooks to the head and body of Catterall, who also entered this bout unbeaten. The Glasgow crowd erupted in support of their fighter, but Taylor struggled to build momentum as the fight became increasingly scrappy and disrupted by warnings and those docked points.
Taylor was assertive but far from at his scintillating best, and when the final bell sounded, it was clear that the strangest of decisions would be needed to see the Scot leave with the gold.
But no one in boxing is a stranger to such strange decisions.
The scorecards read 113-112 to Catterall, 114-111 to Taylor, and 113-112 to Taylor.
The Glasgow crowd greeted the news with a roar of relief, while Catterall was left to reflect on the cruelty of the sport rather than to regret his own efforts, with which he outdid what any in attendance had expected.
Catterall rewrote the script on Saturday night, he just couldn’t change the ending.
Taylor is one of the pound-for-pound best boxers in the world and will move onto the kinds of showcase contests that will convey that fact to the masses.
But on Saturday night, it was hard to see him as anything other than one of the pound-for-pound luckiest boxers in the world.