Teofimo Lopez showed a vintage version of himself at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday night, against Josh Taylor. OK, the fighter is only 25, but he'd been dissed and dismissed in many pundit circles leading up to this scrap. Lopez shut up doubters, hard, with a definitive victory against the Scottish hitter.
After 12 rounds, no one doubted Lopez would win, it was just a question if by how much. The scores: 115-113, 115-113, 117-111. NYF had Lopez winning 10-2, way wider than the two 115-113 cards.
Lopez, fighting out of Florida, weighed 140 on Friday. Taylor, who came to the ring to the sound of bag pipes, was 139.8.
This fight week has been dotted with references to the mental health of Lopez. He’s been referring to dying and some folks are thinking he might be mentally off kilter.
Top Rank promoted the ESPN card, which broke a building record for boxing (previous mark held by Top Rank/Lomachenko v Pedeaza in 2018).
Here are the punch stats:
Lopez acted chill after. He said to Bernardo Osuna that Taylor was tough, and that he didn't actually mean it when he said he wanted to kill the Scot. Teofimo Lopez drew cheers when he admitted he'd questioned himself, but then he asked the crowd if he still got it. They affirmed he did.
Lopez said that his next fight would come in court, for custody of his son.
Speaking with ESPN's Bernardo Osuna, Taylor said Teofimo was the better man, making no excuses.
Teofimo Lopez Picks Up Pace, Pulls Away
In the first, the action was tight. Taylor the lefty wanted to set the pace. Teofimo Lopez countered with rights a few times. Lopez’s nose appeared scuffed.
In the second, Teo started out quick. The Taylor jab to the body looked effective. A cross-arm defense from Teo gave the Scot a different look. The Taylor fans yelled when he landed left hands or almost did. Taylor won the round, maybe with his late accuracy.
In the third, Taylor was warned for hitting Teofimo Lopez while he was caught in the ropes. Left hook from Teo landed and he got excited. Lopez looked unorthodox, squaring up and low-key switching stance. Now Teo had the accuracy advantage. He grinned late in the round, and looked like he was having fun.
In the fourth, Taylor landed an overhsnd left. Taylor then hit the deck, no knockdown. Teo had fun this round, he liked how his right worked. A counter left late sent the Scot reeling.
More Teofimo Sharp Boxing
In the fifth, Teo's power had the fans chanting his name. In tight, Lopez’s hand speed and punch placement impressed.
In the sixth, Taylor came out heated. The Scottish boxer looked calm and stayed with what was working: being in command of range.
In the seventh, Lopez started the round skipping around the ring before the action commenced. Both hands were working for Lopez. The in-house favorite slipped smartly and again, he looked confident and like he enjoyed the outing.
In round eight, we saw more confidence from Lopez. He figured out many rounds ago that Taylor's power wasn’t hellacious. A leaping left from Lopez had the fans abuzz.
In round nine it was more of the same. Lopez had the Hulu Theater crowd pumped. Right hands hurt Taylor late.
In the tenth round, Lopez took a chill route, saving energy for the championship rounds. In round 11 more good work included an uppercut from Lopez that looked nasty. Taylor was hurt with 12 seconds left in the round.
In the 12th round, Teofimo Lopez didn't do prevent defense. Taylor didn't have the pop; his legs were iffy. He lurched and almost toppled midway through. He did well to finish. He really almost didn't, standing on precarious legs.
Quotes From The Fighters
CLICK HERE to hear what Teofimo Lopez said post-fight.
Teofimo Lopez: “It’s been a long time coming. We just beat the Number 1 guy. The lineal world champion. The former undisputed world champion.”
To Josh Taylor: “I think let my emotions get the best of me. I do not want to take your life. I want to you to go back to your family. I apologize as a man.
“Josh Taylor is a tough dude. I can see why he beat so many fighters. But you’ve got to counter the counterpuncher. You’ve got to outsmart the man and get in there. And I did that. I think I did enough. This is what it is all about.
“I questioned myself for a good reason. You guys don’t understand. I’ve always been my worst critic. And you guys got a little glimpse of it. But I’ve just got to ask you one thing, and one thing only. Do I still got it?”
“I’m so grateful. This was a bout fixing what we needed to. That’s why I don’t leave my coach. I trust in him a lot.”
“My next battle is in court for my son. That’s my next battle. I’m not really focused on who I’m going to fight next.”
Josh Taylor: “No excuses. It wasn’t my best. The better man won tonight. I’ve got no excuses. I fought to the best of my ability. He was better than me tonight. It is what it is. Congratulations to Teofimo.
“I thought it was a close fight. I’d love to do it again. I definitely know I’m better than that, and I know I can beat him still. I’d love to do it again. But he’s the champ, so the ball is in his court.
“The layoff had nothing to do with it. I’ve got no excuses. He was the better man tonight. I think probably will be moving up to welterweight now. But, no excuses. He was the better man tonight.”