WBO junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor faces Teofimo Lopez Jr. in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing card Saturday at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York (ESPN/ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET, undercard on ESPN+ at 6:15 p.m.).
This is a battle between a former junior welterweight champion, Taylor, of Scotland, and a former unified lightweight champ, Lopez, of Brooklyn, New York. Taylor relinquished his other three major belts to pursue a rematch with Jack Catterall, whom he’d beaten in a controversial decision in February 2022. When that rematch fell through, Taylor set his sights on Lopez.
Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) is a natural 140-pound fighter who has beaten Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez and Ivan Baranchyk. Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) is fighting in the division for only the third time. His previous fights at 140 pounds were a TKO of Pedro Campa in August and a controversial split decision over Sandor Martin in December.
Both fighters had to be separated during an attempt to face off during Thursday’s news conference. They been actively engaging on social media leading up to the fight and those comments seem to have struck a chord.
“He means what he says and I mean what I say,” Taylor said at the news conference. “There is genuine dislike here. He’s been disrespectful. I’m going to make him pay for his words on Saturday. I can’t wait to get in there. You will see a Josh Taylor win, possibly by KO, and nice and early as well.”
Lopez said he has improved from his last fight and promised to become a two-time lineal world champion.
“What is ‘The Takeover’ if he doesn’t take over the guys that are the kingpins of the division?,” Lopez said. “So, when it comes to Josh Taylor and the junior welterweights, he is the guy. That’s the guy that you have to beat to be the greatest. That’s what we aim for all the time.”
Follow along as Mike Coppinger and Michael Rothstein recap the action as it happens in New York or watch the fights on ESPN+.