Josh Taylor puts over a year of criticism and frustration behind him this Saturday inside the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York, as he defends his WBO super lightweight title against the talented former unified world lightweight champion, Teofimo Lopez.
Bob Arum’s Top Rank promote Taylor vs Lopez, and the bill can be seen on Sky Sports in the UK, and ESPN in the USA.
Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) became IBF champion in May 2019, outscoring Ivan Baranchyk, and he unified on the way to winning the World Boxing Super Series, taking the WBA belt from Regis Prograis in the final.
‘The Tartan Tornado’ completed the set in a thriller in May 2021, dropping WBC and WBO boss Jose Carlos Ramirez twice en route to a tight points win.
With his stock at an all-time high, the Scot native defended his undisputed title against Jack Catterall in February last year, and it was expected to be a routine defence.
It turned out to be a real struggle, and most had Catterall winning, but the 32-year-old got the nod in controversial circumstances.
Taylor flirted with a move up in weight and a rematch never materialised due to injury, while during this time, he switched coaches from Ben Davison to Joe McNally and vacated all bar the WBO one he defends this weekend.
Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) will be a tough opponent for the champion, with an impressive CV to his name.
‘The Takeover’ came to prominence in December 2019, flattening Richard Commey in two rounds to become IBF lightweight champion, and he stunningly added the WBA ‘super’ and WBO straps in October 2020 by taking a decision win against the great Vasiliy Lomachenko.
The 25-year-old Brooklyn man’s charge came to a shuddering halt though in his first defence, as George Kambosos Jr dropped him and took a shock split verdict.
He has flattered to deceive after moving up to 140 pounds, winning via stoppage on debut, but last time out, he had to get off the deck before taking a tight split decision against Sandor Martin.
Prediction: Taylor will be focused to silence the doubters following the Catterall fight, and I think Lopez isn’t as much of a force at this weight. I think the Scot can hurt his foe early, and score a stoppage win after halfway.
Conceicao clashes with Polanco
Four ten rounders head the undercard.
Robson Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs) has lost two of his last three, but in world title bouts to Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez respectively, and he should win his super featherweight meeting with Nicolas Polanco (20-4-1, 11 KOs) on points.
Jamaine Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) returns after a competitive defeat to Vasiliy Lomachenko, and he should score an inside schedule win against Humberto Galindo (14-3-1, 11 KOs), who is coming off a stoppage loss.
Xander Zayas (15-0, 10 KOs) is also in action, and the undefeated super welterweight can deal with Rolando Solis (18-2-1, 12 KOs) on the cards.
At super featherweight, Henry Lebron (17-0, 10 KOs) can see off Carlos Ramos (17-2, 10 KOs) on the points.
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In eight rounders, Omar Rosario (10-0, 3 KOs) can take a decision win at super lightweight against Jan Carlos Rivera (8-1, 6 KOs) and heavyweight prospect, Damian Knyba (11-0, 7 KOs) should stop Helaman Olguin (9-5-1, 4 KOs).
Bruce Carrington (7-0, 4 KOs) can take out Luis Porozo (16-6, 9 KOs) inside schedule at featherweight.