Undisputed junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor of Scotland (19-0, 13 KOs) earned his right to a homecoming fight after his definitive victory last May over Jose Ramirez of Fresno. Challenger Jack Catterall of Chorley, England (26-1, 13 KOs) wasn't having it. He refused to let the champion take a victory lap without working for it.
In front of a tartan-drenched, sold-out crowd of 12,101 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Taylor did just enough to retain his hard-won belts with a split decision. Scorecards read 114-111 and 113-112 for Taylor, 113-112 for Catterall. There wasn't another George Kambosos Jr. style outcome, but Catterall raised his stock by nearly downgrading the Tartan Tornado to a cool breeze.
“It wasn't my best performance. I put a lot of pressure on myself. The first fight since lockdown. It showed in the first half of the fight. But once I got my rhythm, I caught him with the bigger shots,” said Taylor.
Catterall comes on strong as promised
Catterall built his case by bullying Taylor, making it a battle. He caught Taylor with flush power shots, rolling up early rounds against Taylor. True to his pre-fight demeanor, Catterall wasn't afraid to be aggressive and just on this side of fighting dirty. He got into Taylor's headspace and made his best possible case.
Taylor can adjust, and he bit down hard to return fire against Catterall. As Taylor increased his punch output and aggression, Catterall caught Taylor for a knockdown in the eighth round, the first knockdown of Taylor's career. Taylor and his team knew the outcome was seriously in doubt.
Catterall slowed down just enough to let Taylor get the edge, and he went on a good run for the last four rounds.
Referee McDonnell nears mars the outcome
Now let's talk about the hideous performance of referee Marcus McDonnell made two inexplicable point deductions, and the only saving grace is that he wronged both men, canceling out his poor performance. He took a point from Catterall in the tenth round with the stink of home cooking for Taylor. After the 11th round, Taylor and Catterall gestured toward each other at the bell, and McDonnell dinged Taylor for “throwing” a punch first. No, the points didn't throw the fight, but with so much on the line, being wronged messes with a fighter's head.
Taylor was fortunate to pull out the win. For a 13 to 1 favorite, it was a disappointing performance.
“Being the heavy favorite, putting on pressure on myself to put on a good show, it didn't matter in the end, I won the fight,” said Taylor. “Overall, I scored the bigger and better shots. I knew I won the fight. It was a little bit close.
“He never won the fight. The second half of the fight, I started taking over. We'll be moving forward,” said Taylor.
Catterall will move forward with his stock raised despite the narrow loss. He far exceeded expectations. Taylor's stock took a severe hit. His team needs to re-evaluate what went (almost) wrong.
Taylor Catterall 2 rematch not likely
Moving forward means Taylor is seriously considering moving up to the welterweight division, crushing Catterall's opportunity for a rematch he richly deserves.
“I made the weight pretty well, but it's getting hard to make the weight. That will most likely be my last fight at 140,” explained Taylor, who said his knee injury left him with little time to make weight. “I don't think there's a need for a rematch. I won the fight. I took over and busted him.”
If Taylor moves up to 147 pounds, WBO champion Terence Crawford will be waiting for him. It leaves a lot of opportunity behind for Catterall and a scramble for titles among a long list of former and aspiring champions like Jose Ramirez, Jose Zepeda, and even the surprising Sandor Martin.
Undercard results from Scotland
Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez of Florida (9-1, 5 KOs) worked quickly, scoring a third-round knockout win over Eric Donovan of Ireland (14-2, 8 KOs). Ramirez continues to build his case after starting his pro career with a loss. “It was an honor to fight in Scotland in front of the great fans. I wanted to put on a sensational performance, and I believe I did that. Eric Donovan came to fight, but I am motivated to become a world champion one day. I know I can contend for a featherweight world title very soon,” said Ramirez.
Nick Campbell (5-0, 5 KOs) and Jay McFarlane (12-6, 5 KOs) battled for the vacant Scottish area heavyweight title, and it was precisely what you're picturing. Tartan vs. tartan, a big sloppy fight between two men without much craft but enough will to make it fun. The crowd loved it and true confession; it was wildly entertaining. Campbell scored a knockdown of McFarlane in the seventh via a right hand to the head, and referee Kenny Pringle didn't let things go much further before stopping the bout.