Josh Taylor goes into this weekend’s showdown with Teofimo Lopez with some extent to show.
The Scot is his WBO super-lightweight title defence in opposition to the New Yorker as an opportunity at redemption after a irritating exhibiting in his final bout in opposition to Jack Catterall.
In Glasgow in February of final 12 months, Taylor retained his undisputed championship, albeit by controversial split-decision.
The requires a rematch got here immediately. As a deal was reached, Taylor needed to vacate three of his 4 world titles. Nevertheless, a torn tendon in Taylor’s heel noticed that bout finally fall by means of.
After a prolonged layoff the “Tartan Twister” is again in opposition to a brand new opponent in Lopez, the obligatory challenger for his WBO belt. Taylor is itching to show precisely what took him to the head of the game.
He informed Sky Sports activities: “I do not assume I’ve obtained some extent to show when it comes to the fighter I’m, the calibre, however I’ve obtained level to show in placing on an enormous efficiency right here and say, ‘look I informed you I am not going wherever. I am nonetheless the perfect fighter on the planet’.
“One unhealthy efficiency in 10 years and rapidly, I am down right here in individuals’s estimation. I’ve obtained an enormous level to show and a chip on my shoulder, so that is once you’ll see the perfect of me.”
The WBO champion will probably be going up in opposition to a harmful opponent whom he feels not solely will make for a extra charming struggle but additionally be a higher problem for him than Catterall.
“I feel this can be a a lot greater struggle worldwide, it is an enormous struggle. It is a large struggle in boxing worldwide,” Taylor mentioned.
“It is a more durable struggle I imagine as properly. I feel Teofimo is a significantly better calibre opponent than Catterall all-round. His abilities are simply higher than Catterall all-around.
“He is obtained the athleticism, he is obtained the ability, he is obtained the punch pace, he is obtained the combos , he can do all of it. He is an excellent fighter. However he is developing in opposition to a greater fighter in myself.”
Taylor felt the extent of criticism he acquired after the Catterall struggle was unwarranted, saying: “I feel that the quantity and the quantity of disrespect I acquired after that, a number of it was actually uncalled for.
“A lot of the nice fighters have had unhealthy nights, however by no means had something like that. I obtained it for some motive. However after this struggle, that will probably be gone, be forgotten about. That is what I plan on doing with this efficiency.”
Lopez is a fighter who’s searching for redemption himself. After bursting onto the scene throughout the Atlantic with a KO of the 12 months contender in opposition to Mason Mernard in 2018, damaging stoppage victories over Diego Magdaleno and Richard Commey adopted in 2019 and he secured an enormous upset victory over the legendary Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020.
Ripping Lomachenko’s three belts away to grow to be a unified light-weight champion elevated Lopez to superstardom. Nevertheless, in his very first title defence, the fairytale got here to an abrupt halt after a cut up determination loss to Australia’s George Kambosos, that too coming at Madison Sq. Backyard.
He subsequently moved as much as super-lightweight the place he stopped Pedro Campa and picked up a split-decision win over Sandor Martin.
Lopez is trying to grow to be a two-weight world champion in opposition to Taylor and erase the recollections of that torrid night time in opposition to Kambosos.
However Taylor believes the 25-year previous’s psychological scars are seen. After a tough-fought battle in opposition to Martin, Lopez walked away with a razor-thin split-decision victory.
Taylor steered: “He is mentally weak. I feel he is mentally shot a bit of bit, when it comes to questioning himself like that on digicam. He’ll say that it is all trickery and a false sense of safety, however you do not try this type of stuff.
“You do not query your self like that on digicam straight after the struggle when the adrenaline’s buzzing and all that. So that he is positively obtained them self-doubts.”
The Scot stays assured in himself and is adamant he’ll safe a memorable victory.
“He is very explosive,” Taylor mentioned of Lopez. “He is fairly fast, he seems to be like he carries energy as properly, he is fairly sensible boxing-wise, however he additionally makes a number of basic errors that I do know I can expose on struggle night time and can expose on struggle night time.”
He promised: “Fireworks. Search and destroy. An explosive night time, an explosive efficiency, a sophisticated efficiency all the way in which round and simply again to the previous Josh Taylor.
“I can not wait.”
The objective for Taylor? Two-weight world champion
Taylor’s ambitions lengthen past Teofimo Lopez as properly. The Scot secured his place in historical past when he turned Britain’s first undisputed champion within the four-belt period.
However Taylor believes he could be a two-weight world champion as properly.
“Inevitably I will probably be transferring as much as 147lbs at one level as a result of achievement-wise at 140lbs, there’s nothing left for me to do,” he informed Sky Sports activities.
“The one factor I can do at 140lbs which I have not achieved but is struggle for a British title and now that for me no disrespect, however for me at this level in my profession, that is going 10 steps again.
“I am going to perhaps try this after I’m on the way in which again down or no matter, however no disrespect to the British stage, however that is all that there is left for me to realize at 140.
“So motivation-wise and goal-setting is transferring up a weight class and changing into a two-weight world champion.
“That is what retains me getting up within the morning, getting up hitting the roads and getting it within the health club and getting the perfect of myself is the motivation to realize extra within the sport.”
The important thing questions
Why are they combating?
As soon as thought of the most well liked prospect in America, Lopez appeared destined for stardom. He burst onto the scene with brutal knockouts, showmanship and immense resolve.
However after struggling a primary loss as knowledgeable, Lopez determined to maneuver up a weight division to hunt out a brand new problem and a championship at a second weight.
He labored his option to a compulsory shot at Taylor’s WBO title with wins over Campa and Martin. But when these had been supposed to be assertion victories, extra questions arose.
Does he nonetheless have the starvation? Is he mentally prepared for the large stage once more? How will he cope with adversity once more?
In opposition to Taylor, he’ll discover all these solutions and extra.
Taylor is such a demanding opponent not solely because of his skillset and accolades but additionally due to the timing of this bout. “The Tartan Twister” is undefeated, previously the undisputed king of the 140lb division and after a torrid bout with Catterall and the much more torrid fallout from that cut up determination victory Taylor is trying to silence any critics.
Each males have questions. Each want solutions. To disclose them, they need to field.
What’s at stake?
Taylor will defend his WBO super-lightweight title in opposition to Lopez on the Madison Sq. Backyard Theatre on Saturday night time in New York.
Taylor is trying to additional cement his legacy by getting one other marquee win overseas. With the passing of the late nice Ken Buchanan, the Scot is aiming for a dominant victory to not solely stay on the summit of the 140lb division however to honour the reminiscence of his late pal and mentor.
For Lopez, this struggle might be make or break. It sounds harsh as he’s 25 and fewer than three years in the past he secured one of many nice upset victories by defeating then WBA, WBO and IBF world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.
This win was adopted instantly by a primary profession defeat and one other loss, even in opposition to a top-class opponent, can be a substantial set again. Victory would redeem the loss to Kambosos and put him again the place he was anticipated to be.
How can Taylor win?
Though Lopez has good head motion and might utilise his punch output properly, the jab tends to trigger him bother, as seen in his fights with Lomachenko and Sandor Martin. In that final bout in opposition to Martin, the southpaw stance mixed with fixed probing and feinting made Lopez uncomfortable. That is the place Taylor can capitalise.
Getting respect early will important. Lopez has been dropped a few instances in his profession and now he’s combating a much bigger, extra pure 140lb fighter. Taylor ought to these bodily benefits alongside along with his aggressive output to place a dent in Lopez early. Taylor put down Jose Ramirez in his bout to win the undisputed championship. If he can harm or drop the challenger, that can set up an important psychological benefit as properly.
How can Lopez win?
Lopez usually fights with a low lead hand in an open stance which suggests he will probably be relying closely on his spatial consciousness and reactive motion to maintain Taylor guessing.
Taylor likes to step in and provoke offence which now and again leaves him susceptible to counter-punches. If he has to again out in a straight line or pivot away to cowl up, a quick fighter like Lopez could make him pay.
Taylor additionally tends to lunge in when main along with his backhand and with Lopez being so explosive, the challenger should use counter-punches to his benefit to safe the win.
Who’s on the undercard?
Puerto Rican rising star Xander Zayas seems to be to increase his undefeated skilled report to 16-0. Zayas is likely one of the hottest prospects in world boxing in the present day and heads into the hardest struggle of his professional profession as far as he takes on robust and gritty 18-2-1 (12) Ronald Cruz. Nonetheless solely 20 years previous, Zayas is one to observe.
Additionally look out for Brazilian Olympic gold medallist Robson Conceicao, who’s working in the direction of one other world title struggle after a factors loss to Shakur Stevenson, and featherweight prospect Bruce Carrington.
Learn how to watch it?
Within the UK the occasion takes place within the early hours of Sunday morning (June 11), broadcast on Sky Sports activities Motion or Sky Sports activities Major Occasion with protection starting at 1am.