Promoter Bob Arum says he had no choice but to put the kibosh on the rematch between Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall after it became clear Taylor’s WBO junior welterweight title would not be at stake.
Arum, the head of Top Rank, which promotes Scotland’s Taylor, is now working to close a deal for Taylor to defend his title against Teofimo Lopez, the former unified lightweight champion from Brooklyn, New York, who is also promoted by Arum.
The development comes on the heels of what was initially regarded as yet another postponement to Taylor-Catterall II. The fight was supposed to be announced last month for March 4, but it was revealed that Taylor suffered a foot injury (a torn plantar fascia) during training camp.
Two days after his injury became public, the WBO requested medical proof from Taylor. It’s not clear what came of that, but the sanctioning body made a pivot earlier this week, when it formally mandated Lopez as the challenger to Taylor, thus depriving Catterall an opportunity for redress.
In a recent interview, Arum says the WBO's decision was the chief reason why Taylor-Catterall II was no longer on the table.
But, as BoxingScene.com recently pointed out, the teams for Lopez and Taylor were already in discussion about a fight well in advance of the WBO notice. England's Catterall, to be sure, is not a Top Rank fighter, although Top Rank often promotes in conjunction with Catterall's promoter, the UK-based Boxxer.
Arum said he hopes the winner of Taylor-Lopez would go on to fight Catterall, who is projected to fight in late March on a Boxxer-Sky Sports card.
“Once the WBO ruled that Josh had to fight Teofimo, [we] couldn’t do a title fight [with Catterall],” Arum told iD Boxing. “The fact that you couldn’t do a title fight, Josh Taylor and Catterall, meant that the value of the fight had diminished. So Jack should take another fight and I’m sure the winner of Taylor and Teofimo would be happy to agree to fight Catterall next. That seems like the logical thing to do.
“I know Catterall wants to fight for the title, so that’s what I would propose to him. They do another fight with his promoter, Boxxer, and we would agree, Taylor and Teofimo, that the winner of that fight would fight Catterall.”
Boxxer CEO Ben Shalom has said that Catterall is contractually obligated to a fight with Taylor.
ESPN is reporting that Taylor-Lopez will take place in the summer--late May, early June--in Taylor's hometown of Edinburgh. If that happens, it would be the first time Lopez, 25, has fought outside of the United States.
Taylor, 32, defeated Catterall last year on points in the first defense of his four 140-pound titles in what was regarded as one of the biggest robberies in UK boxing. Taylor vacated three of his belts in order to pave the way for a rematch with Catterall.
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