Reflecting on Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez



Reflecting on Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez

Last Saturday at the Madison Square Garden Theater, Teofimo Lopez boxed superbly to score a win over Josh Taylor. What's next for both men?

Coming into their June 10 contest in New York, Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez both had something to prove.

Taylor was coming off an awful showing, followed by a 16-month layoff and had been injured while Lopez had boxed poorly in his last outing.

Another aspect to consider for Lopez fans was the mental state of the American fighter. Some statements issued by Teofimo before the fight suggested that perhaps a boxing ring was the last place he should be on Saturday night.

Teofimo Lopez Showed That In the Ring, He's Focused and Sharp As Heck

As it played out, Lopez bossed most of the 12-round encounter to take a deserved unanimous decision. The two judges who awarded Taylor five rounds on their cards have maybe seen better days. At best, Taylor took three rounds.

It was the second disappointing outing in a row for Scotsman Taylor who dropped to 19-1. He also lost his WBO and Ring Magazine light welterweight titles to Lopez.

Taylor vs Lopez, June 10, 2023

Teofimo Lopez landed nearly double the punches as Josh Taylor during their WBO World Super LIghtweight championship fight at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

As disappointing as it was for Taylor, Lopez, now 19-1, deserves plenty of credit. His athleticism really served him well in the fight. His distance control was world class and many of his right hands, which couldn't seem to miss, were hurting Taylor.

With Teofimo Lopez seemingly finding redemption and now possibly being the main man at 140-pounds, he should be in a good position, boxing wise, moving forward. He did though, immediately after the fight, declare himself retired.

For Taylor, Saturday's encounter in New York has left plenty of questions.

Time to consider how Saturday's events may influence both boxers moving forward.

Teofimo Lopez Was ON at MSG Theater

As mentioned above, Teofimo boxed superbly well in front of the sold-out MSG Theater crowd. He had great support in the arena.

Going into the fight Looez was regarded as the slight underdog. The last time he entered a fight as the underdog was his 2020 clash with Vasiliy Lomachenko. Lopez won that night too. Does having the weight of expectation against him inspire Lopez to perform at a better level?

Teofimo Lopez was focused on what was required on Saturday night. From round four, it was clear to anyone paying attention that “The Takeover” was well and truly on.

Teo's moniker can be applied to how he ripped the titles from Taylor and became the big fish in the 140-pound pond on Saturday night.

Teofimo Lopez is now in the drivers' seat

Teofimo Took His Time, And All His Assets Were Displayed

He took his time early, and absorbed some nice body shots from Taylor, before really putting his right hand to use in order to counter the work of southpaw Taylor.

Lopez also made use of his best assets, his speed and athleticism, both offensively and defensively, to dominate the fight. His footwork was high quality, often leading to him being in prime position to capitalize after he had eluded a Taylor attack.

At only 25-years old, Lopez has now ascended to the top of two weight classes in boxing. His talent is undeniable. Can he stay focused?

Lopez Chats Retirement With The Ringside Crew

After being announced as the winner, Lopez stood ringside and answered some questions from the boxing press in attendance. Click here to watch that….

During the chat he talked about being his own worst critic and how that could somehow manifest itself in things that could be construed as him struggling mentally.

He also discussed his domestic situation – going through a messy divorce and facing a court battle for custody of his son.

It was at this point Lopez declared that he would be retiring as the money being offered to him by his promoter was no longer good enough.

I'll be taking that with a pinch of salt. Teofimo Lopez is too young and too talented to walk away from boxing at this juncture. Maybe the public declaration will bring him better paydays moving forward.

It is clear the young man has plenty to deal with outside the ring. I wish him well in that respect.

Mature Approach Would Serve Lopez Well

I also wish Lopez would stop with the clowning behaviour. During his impromptu ringside press conference on Saturday, he came across as humble and smart. A fighter, a family man, a human under pressure. It was refreshing to see.

What wasn't so good was him following up on Twitter by asking his followers, in reference to the fight build-up, “How well did I play the fool?” and leaving a choice of four answers for people to select in a poll. See below:

At best it was immature, at worst it could be seen to be having a laugh at the expense of people struggling day to day with mental health issues. It was unnecessary.

Lopez should also make an apology over some ill-advised remarks he made during a YouTube interview in relation to race within boxing.

These comments were truly abhorrent. In 2023 it's possible to have discussions about race without resorting to using the type of deeply offensive language Lopez did.

On the boxing side of things, Teofimo Lopez appears to be in a good place. If he needs some time away to deal with external things, then that's what he should do.

Hopefully he's back in the ring at some point though. It would be a shame for him to squander all that talent.

Looking At the Josh Taylor Outing

After a dire performance against Jack Catterall in February 2022, Taylor arrived in New York looking fresh and fit at the weight. With new trainer Joe McNally in tow, the boxer looked happy and relaxed in the build-up. He also had energy to indulge in trash talking and aggressive posturing at the fight week press conference with Lopez.

It looked like the training camp had gone well; a contrast to Taylor's camp prior to the Catterall fight.

So, what happened to Taylor in the ring on Saturday?

This isn't about discrediting Lopez, or about putting the boot into a fighter just after he has lost for the first time. It's about trying to rationalise things and presenting theories for Taylor's below par performance.

Taylor started the bout fairly well. He was active and employed a body attack which I thought, if he continued with it, would have taken Teo's legs and energy from him as the fight wore on.

As it happened, it was Taylor's legs that deserted him. He stopped throwing body shots after the third round, instead opting to load up his left hand, attempting to hit the jackpot with a one punch head shot.

Lopez was able to anticipate the attacks that were coming from the Scotsman. Most were powerfully countered by the right of Lopez.

Taylor's Legs And Energy Had Gone, But Why?

As noted, this camp under McNally looked to have been a successful one. Taylor looked healthy as the weigh-in approached. On weigh-in day he seemed lively before rehydrating.

Did he put on too much weight after the weigh-in?

Taylor himself admitted after the fight that his legs had gone and that he felt exhausted from the fourth or fifth round.

Josh Taylor ripped and ready

No, Taylor didn't look “on” from the get go.

Always a fighter that has lived up to his “Tartan Tornado” nickname, pressuring opponents and throwing spiteful combinations, none of this was on display from Taylor at Madison Square Garden.

Is making 140-pounds just too much for the now 32-year-old boxer? He stated that welterweight would be the division he boxes in moving forward.

Was Teofimo Lopez just the wrong style of opponent for Taylor at this stage? Is Josh Taylor shot? It's a horrible thing to have to ask, but boxing is a harsh sport.

Despite his short pro career, Taylor has a lot of miles on his clock from a lengthy amateur campaign. At 32, is Taylor's body telling him enough is enough?

We also need to consider Taylor's fast but tough road to becoming undisputed champion at light welterweight. Less than three years after turning professional he went on a run of bouts that saw him face Viktor Postol, Ryan Martin, Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez.

In the early stages of his professional campaign Taylor was also matched hard. No soft touches or record padding. It helped him get to where he wanted to be, and it was great to witness and cover at the time, but perhaps the trade-off for that will be sacrificing career longevity.

One final consideration is the January foot tendon injury that Taylor reported which resulted in his planned March rematch with Jack Catterall being scrapped. Although Taylor didn't speak about the torn plantar fascia his trainer, Joe McNally, mentioned how it ruined the momentum he was building.

Line In The Sand Under Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez

At this stage of their respective careers there are still questions surrounding Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez.

Whether or not they should rematch isn't one of them.

I understand the desire of any boxer wanting to get back in the ring with a foe that has bested them, but for Taylor a rematch with Lopez is a bad idea. It's just a bad matchup for him.

It was alarming to see how Taylor couldn't muster anything to take Lopez out of his comfort zone in the fight. A rematch would look the same.

For Taylor, if he does move to welterweight, I'd like to see him back in the ring as soon as possible. The opponent isn't important, it's all about seeing his performance level at 147-pounds.

As for Teofimo Lopez, hopefully he can deal with his personal issues while remaining active in the sport. It would be a shame to lose such a great talent prematurely.

A boxing fan since his teenage years, Morrison began writing about the sport in July 2016. He appreciates all styles of boxing and has nothing but respect for those who get in the ring for our entertainment. Morrison is from Scotland and can be found on Twitter @Morrie1981.