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Prediction: Taylor vs. Lopez full fight night preview

Sky Sports Fight Night - Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images

After more than 15 months on the sidelines, former undisputed Super Welterweight champ Josh Taylor returns to action this Saturday when he battles onetime unified Lightweight titlist Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden.

The ESPN/ESPN+ doubleheader will also see blue chip Super Welterweight prospect Xander Zayas face Ronald Cruz in his first fight of 2023, though the main event is doing all the heavy lifting. Let’s have a look at it.

Jose Ramirez v Josh Taylor Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor

Age: 32
Record: 19-0 (13 KO)
Last Five Fights: Jack Catterall (SD), Jose Ramirez (UD), Apinun Khongsong (KO-1), Regis Prograis (MD), Ivan Baranchyk (UD)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Viktor Postol, Miguel Vazquez, Ohara Davies


Vasiliy Lomachenko v Teofimo Lopez Jr Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

Teofimo “The Takeover” Lopez

Age: 25
Record: 18-1 (13 KO)
Last Five Fights: Sandor Martin (SD), Pedro Campa (TKO-7), George Kambosos Jr. (UD Loss), Vasiliy Lomachenko (UD), Richard Commey (TKO-2)
Significant Victories (other than those mentioned above): Masayoshi Nakatani, Diego Magdaleno


Had this bout taken place between May and November of 2021, it would be the talk of the town. Taylor had just dropped Jose Ramirez twice en route to becoming undisputed Super Lightweight champion, while Lopez wasn’t far removed from an unfathomable upset of Vasiliy Lomachenko for unified Lightweight glory.

Suffice it to say, both men have lost a bit of luster since. Taylor badly underwhelmed in a controversial split decision over Jack Catterall in 2022, kicking off a long and sordid stretch that saw him drop three of his four titles, withdraw from the scheduled rematch due to injury, and then ditch it entirely in favor of fighting Lopez. “The Takeover,” meanwhile, lost his belts to George Kambosos Jr. before a move to 140 pounds saw him knock out Pedro Campa and win a hugely questionable decision of his own over Sandor Martin.

It’s tough to tell where these two stand at the moment. Taylor insisted after the Catterall fight that he’d outgrown the division, and though he ultimately went back on his word, there’s no telling whether he can still compete at peak form as a Super Lightweight. Similarly, it’s a standing question as to whether the speed and power that made Lopez so fearsome at 135 can overwhelm naturally larger men.

Assuming both enter the ring in peak condition, I favor Taylor based on his superior body of work, technical ability, and experience with heavy-handed sluggers. Though we’re unlikely to see that, I still think Taylor takes it; as poor as he looked against Catterall, a bad weight cut and a bad game plan are fixable. Whatever’s ailing Lopez isn’t, at least not with his current mindset. He seems to teeter between unflappable arrogance and straight-up delusion to the point where he’s comparing himself to Jesus.

I can see Taylor getting back in the gym and tweaking his approach. I can’t see Lopez doing the same.

As long as Taylor is reasonably intact after the cut to 140, it’s his fight to lose. He’s got the tools to both outbox Lopez and overpower him in a slugfest; Lopez would have to perfectly thread the needle to emerge victorious, and considering his inability to adjust against the likes of Kambosos and Martin, that’s not happening. Taylor soundly outclasses Lopez over 12.

Prediction: Taylor def. Lopez via unanimous decision

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