Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez, it's almost time. On Saturday night, at the Madison Square Garden Theater, Scotsman Josh Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) will defend his WBO light welterweight title against American Teofimo Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs).
For Taylor, he will be back in the ring for the first time in 16 months. The defending champion will also have new trainer Joe McNally in his corner for the first time.
Lopez is still rebuilding his career after his shock defeat to George Kambosos Jr. at lightweight in November 2021. This will be Teofimo's third outing at 140-pounds and he has the opportunity to win a world title after winning but failing to impress in his last bout against Sandor Martin in December 2022.
The scene is set. The trash talking of the build-up is almost over and soon the two fiery, spiteful boxers will be facing off with only the referee between them.
Can Taylor provide another away win in America? Will Lopez be the first man to beat him? Time to open things up and hear from the 20 strong panel.
Let's go global.
The View From America On Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez
Michael Woods, NYF Founder/Editor-in-Chief: This one has tight fight, slight margin in favor of the winner. I expect, without knowing of course, being that we cannot be sure how Teofimo's head has been, that this is a distance fight. Rounds will be hard to score, there will be ebbs and flows. Not betting against Lopez, assuming that he cannot reclaim past accolades. Lopez wins by 1 point margin on the cards!
Gayle Falkenthal, NYF West Coast Bureau Chief: Teofimo Lopez will be under pressure in front of a home audience to make good on his trash talk, especially after a lackluster performance in his previous fight against Sandor Martin where he suffered an early knockdown.
Josh Taylor also has something to prove after a razor-thin victory most observers thought should have gone to Jack Catterall.
Taylor's team secured the neutral judges they wanted, a big plus. Lopez is aggressive but he makes mistakes, and if he's not in the best frame of mind, Taylor will exploit every wrong move. It's incredible to realize this is a serious crossroads fight for both men.
One will move on to greater opportunities. The other will face an uphill climb to the top of the competitive 140-pound division. I'm calling it for Taylor by a narrow margin sure to be disputed.
David Phillips, NYF writer, film critic: I always find it hard to go with a person acting a fool when it affects their ring performance. Both Taylor and Lopez have acted that fool, but it's never seemed to affect Taylor in the ring.
Lopez, on the other hand, brings his issues into the ring. Getting knocked down, winning a squeaker over Sandor Martin, and asking his team “Do I still got it?” post-fight does not instill confidence.
This feels like a real crossroads fight for Lopez. He can either be a comet that scored a surprisingly dominant victory over Loma and then faded away, or he can re-establish himself as a potential P4P guy. I'm betting on the former. Taylor by unanimous decision.
Jacob Rodriguez, NYF New York State Editor: Teofimo Lopez hasn't been the same fighter since he lost to Kambosos in the first defence of his titles at lightweight. He had what many call a lackluster performance against Sandor Martin; even Teo himself questioned his performance.
Lopez is a world class fighter and there is no doubt that he can still fight. I don't question his physical prowess as much as I do his mental fortitude. Since the Kambosos loss, Teo has dealt with mental health issues, is going through a divorce, goes on ridiculous rants, and his relationship with his father always seems to be on the verge of a volatile collapse.
To defeat a fighter like Josh Taylor, a former undisputed champion himself, Teo will have to be physically and mentally at the top of his game. However, it has been nearly 16 months since Taylor last fought, and he was also scrutinized for his performance against Jack Catterall, a fight many believe Taylor lost.
Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez is very close, and both fighters must be a perfect version of who they were in previous fights to be victorious. I believe they both will. Although Teo has more arduous hurdles to overcome, my gut tells me he will beat Taylor. Taylor has struggled to make 140-pounds for a while now.
Teofimo will carry the weight better than a drained Taylor, which will decide who will win the fight. Teofimo Lopez wins a close but unanimous decision to win his first strap at 140-pounds and become a two-division world champion.
Hector Franco, boxing writer, film critic: Josh Taylor against Teofimo Lopez is a battle between two fighters that each have the ability to have their hands raised in victory. Both men have in common that they squandered any momentum they had after career-best victories, leaving them to prove themselves again.
Lopez and Taylor will enter the ring with a chip on their shoulders with added motivation to showcase that they are still one of the best fighters in the world. However, who comes out on top might be the more mentally prepared fighter – the one who can keep their composure.
Lopez at times, seems to be his own worst enemy and gives fans deja-vu to fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Adrien Broner, who can't be trusted to perform at an elite level on a consistent basis. But, at 25, he has time on his side to learn from his mistakes, and if he comes in with a genuine game plan that he can execute, he could find himself with another significant victory.
Josh Taylor now feels like the forgotten undisputed champion in boxing since he vacated most of his titles and had a listless performance against Jack Catterall that could have resulted in his first loss. Having changed trainers following the bout with Catterall, it's difficult to determine what he will look like against Lopez.
Who do you believe has the bigger upside? I'll go out on a limb here and choose Teofimo Lopez to somewhat return to form and come away with the victory against Taylor.
Matthew Pomara, writer, Long Island correspondent: Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez squaring off for the legitimate Ring Magazine light welterweight championship. It is the latest in the boxing renaissance of quality fighters battling it out for division supremacy.
Taylor brings an attacking skill set. He is a dreaded southpaw with a slick boxing style. Lopez is the younger and more aggressive fighter that toppled Vasiliy Lomachenko. He has the power to change any fight with his ability to put opponents away, a fact that kept Lomachenko at bay for the first half of their fight.
The answer to this prediction can be found in two of their previous bouts; Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez is the blueprint for Taylor's success and Lopez's defeat to George Kambosos Jr. foreshadows his demise. Taylor will outbox Lopez and win a unanimous decision.
Matt Andrzejewski, boxing columnist: Lopez looked bad against Sandor Martin and may have even lost that fight. But Martin is a slick, tricky southpaw who can make anyone in this sport look bad. My feeling is that the talent is still there for Lopez and he is the more athletically gifted fighter. And Lopez knows that his career comes unhinged with a loss.
I think we see a more focused and determined Lopez with everything on the line. Taylor has his moments but Lopez turns on the jets to get a late stoppage. Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez, Lopez TKO 11.
Henroc, man around town in NYC, boxing sage: I'm going with Josh Taylor to win by unanimous decision against Teofimo Lopez. In my opinion, Lopez struggles with focus and conditioning. He seems to come on strong in the early half of fights but then fades in the latter half.
Josh Taylor will test Teo's will and apply too much pressure. Teo will not have the stamina to stave off Taylor and he will lose the second half of the fight, which include the most important rounds, the championship rounds. UD Josh Taylor.
Tim Brown, Tennessee based sports investor, boxing ace: Taylor by unanimous decision is the only way I can realistically see this scrap playing out.
My reasons for Taylor winning this fight are concluded from the observations of disastrous decisions made by Lopez and his team over the past 2-3 years. They have completely ruined the platform from which they claimed by beating Loma seemingly forever ago.
They went behind Top Rank's back in the handling of the Kambosos deal and that among other things has blown up in their faces. Now we have Lopez likened to an Adrien Broner type character who has apparently lost his mojo.
His fragile mental state is apparent. You don't play boxing and I just can't see Teofimo pulling a victory rabbit out of the hat, let alone a victory somersault come Saturday night.
MZFightDiva, boxing fanatic: As much as I believe Taylor has the power to win this being the bigger man, I believe Teo is smart enough skill wise to avoid any major punishment. He's going to want to bounce back from his previous unremarkable fights. I think Lopez makes a good showing for himself this time.
Some Opinions On Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez From Scotland
Rhys McCole, former Scottish Amateur boxing champion, current boxing coach: Very interesting matchup. Both are loud mouths and both are excellent boxers.
Josh was extremely fortunate to get the win against Jack Catterall. I believe that was a wake up call. Is Teofimo genuinely confident, or is he still self-doubting at times? Only he knows.
I think this will be a high level technical and tactical fight. Will Teofimo have ever seen a tornado quite like this Scottish one? I think Teofimo is in for a shock. I will predict Josh Taylor to win by stoppage. Good luck to both boxers.
Alistair Morrison, Scottish boxing observer: I think Taylor will be back to his Tornado best against Lopez. He's going to blow him away. Taylor is ready for this and I'm looking forward to seeing a great performance from The Tartan Tornado.
It won't be an easy one, but I feel the ability, determination and punching power of Taylor will be more than enough for a win against Lopez.
Robert MacKiggan, Scottish boxing observer: Both boxers were not very impressive in their last outings, despite them both being elite fighters.
Taylor needs to up his game to get something from this bout and he will probably be a bit ring rusty due to his lack of activity. His team is saying that he has trained well and is looking very sharp. He will need to be to keep a boxer of Lopez's calibre at bay.
In Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez I think that Taylor's crushing body shots will be a key factor and I am going for Taylor stopping Lopez around the 9th or 10th round.
Colin Morrison, NYF UK Editor: I have a feeling Taylor will be back to his best in New York on Saturday. He looks in good condition and the change of trainer seems to have revitalised him. The long period out of the ring is a concern, and Lopez can bank some early rounds, but I think once Taylor gets his engine fully revved up, he will be too much for the former lightweight title holder.
Taylor to win via late stoppage in a slow burning classic.
Predictions On Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez From Around The World
Galileo Ferrari, journalist Japan-Forward, IT genius, Hayama, Japan: Taylor is the veteran of the division, undefeated, and has fought the best in the weight class. It hard for me to imagine Lopez doing any significant damage. Taylor by UD.
James Lupton, founder SlothBoxx YouTube channel, boxing interviewer and writer, England: First of all, what a fight to look forward to!
This is a cracker, which I don't think has had as much fanfare around it due to the controversy surrounding both fighters' previous bouts, but it is a fight that is highly anticipated.
Josh Taylor feels he has something to prove to those whose weapon of choice is a keyboard as they took to social media to tear down all Taylor has achieved over a lifetime in the gym because he had a bad night at the office.
Now throw in the mix the distasteful comments made by Lopez, which I won't repeat, and I think we'll see a violent, and victorious, Josh Taylor on the night making a statement to the division.
Ed Odeven, reporter and sports Editor for SportsLook at Japan-Forward, Tokyo, Japan: Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez, both have strong credentials based on their in-ring records as professional boxers.
In 38 combined fights, they've only had one defeat to date – Lopez's split-decision loss to George Kambosos Jr. in November 2021 in New York. Memory of that loss is the fuel for Lopez's showdown with Taylor. What's more, this fight, too, will be in Teofimo's hometown. Sky-high motivation for the challenger.
Taylor, No. 7 on The Ring's pound-for-pound ratings, hasn't fought since February 2022 against Jack Catterall, winning by split decision in Glasgow.
Since then, he's enlisted Joe McNally as his new lead trainer. How will their in-ring rapport be between rounds in making adjustments for the first time in a fight?
Is Lopez, at No. 9 on The Ring's rankings list of light welterweights an underrated boxer? Perhaps this fight will provide some clues.
Prediction: Lopez by unanimous decision.
David Friend, boxing fan, Johannesburg, South Africa: South African fans learned an early lesson about Taylor when he defeated Warren Joubert.
Southpaws are usually counter punchers but Taylor is different. He likes to fight on the inside and I don't believe Lopez can match him there. Taylor will start slowly (ring rust) but will start to apply the pressure from the middle rounds and possibly stop Lopez late on.
Taylor is bigger, stronger and a lot more motivated. Lopez just seems far off right now. My pick, Taylor by late TKO.
Daniel Gaylor, boxing fan, Australia: Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez is a really intriguing, high quality matchup. Given both are coming off sub par performances, I'm expecting both fighters will be seeking to re-establish themselves as genuine stars of the sport and be primed for battle.
In spite of the layoff and fighting in Teo's hometown I give Taylor the edge. He has beaten significantly superior opposition at 140-pounds and has that little nasty streak many of the greats possess.
Teo has regressed since the Loma victory. Injury, defeat, domestic challenges and the weight of carrying the family business have taken away the confidence that was once his strength.
I see Josh Taylor wearing him down over the second half of the fight and winning a clear decision.
Paolo Vega, boxing casual, Barranquilla, Colombia: This is a very solid boxing matchup. Maybe not at prime for both fighters, especially Teo and his rollercoaster – more than takeover – journey.
Both are very talented. Maybe Teo is the more athletic but Taylor is the tougher and the more proven of the two. Fighters' mentality and the corners will be key, especially in the tougher moments of the fight.
I think the Catterall fight was an off night and style struggle for Taylor. Maybe all the tough fights from before and during the World Boxing Super Series had an effect on Taylor.
Both fighters have the opportunity to grab the throne again and stop the doubting atmosphere on their careers.
Technically, I think Teo will try to box from the mid-range and counter with that left cross and right hand. Meanwhile Taylor will try to put the pressure on and win the rounds inside, making the fight ugly and making it difficult for Lopez to cope with that style.
I think Taylor will get the win via close unanimous decision. I wouldn't be shocked if Taylor stops Teo late.
Final Tally – Taylor 14, Lopez 6
Enjoy the fight everyone!