Arnold Taylor made his professional boxing debut on 20 May 1967, against Ray Buttle. His first three fights were against Buttle; he won the Transvaal Bantamweight title with a ninth round knockout of Buttle in his second fight, held on 30 June of the same year, at Johannesburg.
On 19 February 1968, he won the South African Bantamweight title; in only his fourth fight, beating Andries Steyn over twelve rounds by decision. After two non title wins, he lost the title, and suffered his first career defeat, when he was knocked out in the first round by Dennis Adams on 1 July of the same year.
On 3 November 1973, Taylor met the WBA’s world Bantamweight champion, Mexico’ Romeyo Anaya, in a match refereed by South Africa’s Stanley Christodolouw. The fight is considered by many one of boxing’s classic fights. One South African sportswriter called it “the bloodiest fight in South African boxing history”. Taylor suffered a cut and was knocked down once in round five and three times in round eight (the WBA has since adopted a rule where a fighter is automatically declared a knockout loser if he or she is knocked down three times in the same round). Nevertheless, Taylor also cut the champion, and, in round fourteen, he connected with a right hand to Anaya’s jaw, sending him to the floor. Feeling that this was his moment to become a world champion, Taylor screamed to his trainers: “He’s gone!” from a neutral corner. It took Anaya two minutes to get up, and Taylor won the WBA world Bantamweight title.
Arnold Taylor became South Africa’s second world champion after Vic Toweel.