Fighting Lopez creates a better opportunity for Taylor, but can he beat him?

There have been significant schedule and plan changes for the once undisputed world junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor. Following progress in negotiations and numerous announcements of a fight with Jack Catterall, Taylor will now take on once-unified lightweight champion and top sports star Teofimo Lopez. The bout, which will take place June 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York (Sportzshala/Sportzshala+), will focus on Taylor’s light welterweight title.

But was it the right choice for the duo? The opportunity to box at Madison Square Garden may have influenced Taylor’s decision as it would be a high-profile fight between the two former undisputed world champions.

Sportzshala takes a look at some of the key questions surrounding the matchup between two fighters looking to reclaim and maintain their position among the top 10 fighters in the world, regardless of weight class.

Does this fight against Lopez offer more opportunities for Taylor?

Yes, no doubt. The fight against Lopez, the former unified world lightweight champion, is a bigger fight internationally than the rematch with Catterall, who was relatively unknown until last year’s fight with Taylor.

Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs), 25, who lives in Las Vegas but was born in Brooklyn, New York, is also a bigger problem for Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs), 32, and from this can get more if he wins.

Catterall surprised many with his brilliant performance against Taylor a year ago in his first world title fight, a controversial split decision loss. But Lopez is more famous than Catterall and is generating interest outside of the UK. Taylor-Catterall II is an all-British match and doesn’t have as much popularity.

Also, from Taylor’s point of view, his rivalry with Catterall hasn’t gone away, it’s something he can pick up (if he wants to) later this year, win or lose against Lopez.

A rematch with Catterall is great (and hopefully we’ll see one), but Taylor will make more money and benefit even more from his next fight with Lopez. The prestige he would earn if he won and the larger purse proved too convincing for Taylor to refuse. Gateway revenue in New York will exceed revenue from the rematch against Catterall in Glasgow.

In addition, the WBO conveniently made Lopez a mandatory challenger after Taylor-Catterall II was delayed due to Taylor’s injury (a plantar fascia tendon rupture) in February.

“If I went and fought Jack, I would fight him without a title and I want to keep the title,” Taylor said. “It’s out of my control and it’s not my fault that the WBO got involved.”

At times, Lopez looked vulnerable in fights with George Kambosos Jr. and Sandor Martin – another reason Taylor agreed to the fight.

What is the meaning of boxing in MSG and New York for Taylor?

Huge and he will be an inspiration for the Scottish boxer.

Edinburgh-born Scottish boxing legend Ken Buchanan, like Taylor, led the MSG five times in the 1970s, winning four and losing once. In December 1970, Muhammad Ali was on the same bill as Buchanan at MSG.

After making a successful lightweight title defense against Ismael Laguna at this location in 1971, Buchanan lost his belt a year later to Roberto Duran, who landed a low blow in the 13th round, but the Scottish fighter had two more wins at MSG.

Taylor did not miss the chance to imitate his hero Buchanan.

Can Teofimo Lopez succeed in the 140th division?

Yes, but he should do much better than his last fight against Martin in December. There isn’t as much talent in this division as there is in welterweight, and the belts are now broken after Taylor owned all four a year ago.

Regis Prograis, who has looked buoyant since losing on points to Taylor in the World Boxing Super Series final in October 2019, is the biggest threat, and former champion Jose Ramirez, who faces Richard Commey on March 25, could also be a threat. If fights can be arranged – and that’s a big “if” – then Lopez vs. Prograis and/or Ramirez fights will become popular, helping Lopez become one of boxing’s greatest stars.

There are fights for Lopez, but like Taylor, he needs to get back in shape in June.

How can Taylor win?

Boxing is much better than against Catterall a year ago. Taylor lost most of this fight. He was knocked down in the eighth round and many thought he was lucky to be saved by a split decision win. Taylor, who was caught too easily and had trouble hitting accurate shots, says he believes his size and experience give him an advantage against Lopez, and he may be right.

Let’s not forget that Taylor is a smart boxer, with a piston jab when he picks up the pace. He will have to establish this early on to dictate the direction and pace of the fight. Taylor is working with a new trainer for this fight, Joe McNally, and together they must ensure that Taylor returns to the form he masterfully took down Ramirez two years ago to become the undisputed world champion.

Building weight – Taylor is big for a junior welterweight – will reasonably be important for the Scottish boxer. He needs to be mobile to win this fight. If he can box as well as he did against Ramirez, Lopez could have a tough time. Taylor knocked Ramirez down twice on his way to a career-best unanimous decision victory in May 2021, and this version of Taylor could take the win over Lopez.

How can Teofimo win?

A quick start backed by the roar of thousands of his fans will help Lopez as much as he did in his fights that led to his unanimous decision victory over Vassily Lomachenko in October 2020.

Taylor got off to a bad start against Catterall and nearly paid for it. Lopez’s movement and tactical intelligence has so far been a concern for better boxers than Taylor (like Lomachenko), and the American needs to rediscover that form, that intensity, and that motivation.

Lopez needs to make sure his stamina doesn’t let him down. In the fight with Lomachenko, he lost late, and in his last fight with Martin, he looked lackluster. In contrast, Taylor rallied late against Catterall and it saved his belts.

Self-confidence can also be a problem for Lopez. He even asked his team, “Do I still have it?” after beating Martin on split points.

In order for Lopez to beat Taylor, he must first decisively answer this question himself and get rid of any doubts about his boxing form. Taylor will take advantage of the fragile psyche.

Tactically and technically, Lopez has already proven that he can beat an opponent as well as Taylor. In addition to fighting Martin, Lopez also has a good track record against left-handers like Taylor, stopping Diego Magdaleno and beating Lomachenko.

Lopez’s defense, especially against Taylor’s dangerous left uppercut that knocked Ramirez down, and his concentration should be better to avoid the knockdowns he got from Cambosos and Martin, which could be the wake-up call he needed.


Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker