Dalton Smith expects Josh Taylor to be considerably improved for his rematch with Jack Catterall – and therefore also a “completely different fighter”.

The 33-year-old Taylor and Catterall, 30, finally fight again on Saturday at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, more than two years after the most controversial of outcomes when Taylor was awarded a split-decision victory over the impressive Catterall in their undisputed super-lightweight title fight. 

Since then – a succession of injuries suffered by Taylor have contributed to their sought-after rematch being repeatedly postponed – Taylor has replaced Ben Davison as his trainer with Joe McNally, considered moving to welterweight, vacated his IBF, WBA and WBC titles, and sacrificed his WBO title and undefeated record after losing to Teofimo Lopez in New York in June 2023.

Instead of being widely recognised as the world’s leading fighter at 140lbs, as he was before they fought in Glasgow in February 2022, Taylor – perhaps more than ever – fights Catterall with a point to prove, and not least because of the presence of the promising Smith and Adam Azim in the weight division he remains committed to and in which he continues to be considered Britain’s number one.

Smith in March made his biggest statement as a professional when he stopped Jose Zepeda, and for all that he has ambitions of one day competing with Taylor and Catterall he considers the negativity around Taylor as a consequence of his defeat by Lopez to be unjust.

“It’s gonna be a great fight,” Smith said. “The first one was great. As a boxing fan – and I know many other people out there are looking forward to it – it’s a great, great fight. 

“In my eyes, Catterall [is the favourite]. I had him winning the first fight, but I’m expecting a completely different fight. It’ll be a lot different from the first one. Josh Taylor took it quite lightly the first time, but I’m sure he’ll have trained to his full capacity; no stone left unturned. We’ll see a more competitive fight. It’s a fight I’m looking forward to.

“He’s still a very good fighter, and he’s mixing with the best. You can’t take anything away from the losses against fighters at the top. It’s the elite level. Josh is still a great, great fighter, and that’s why I’m expecting to see a very competitive fight.

“Lopez is one of the best if not the best in the division. You can’t take anything away from those losses; that’s what happens with the best. You’re gonna come up short at some point, and that’s boxing. But Josh Taylor’s a very, very good fighter.

“From some of his previous fights you can say ‘Yeah [he was struggling at the weight]’, but the fight against Teofimo he looked good on the scales, so there’s only Josh who knows himself about making the weight. Making weight’s not an easy thing to do. We’ll see when the weigh-in day comes how both fighters look on the scales.

“It’s a guessing game. Only they know how they’re performing in the gym. We’re gonna see that fight night, but momentum’s great for any fighter. But sometimes things happen in boxing – you get injuries; you get pull outs. It’s just about staying consistent; staying in the gym. Hopefully it all pays off on fight night.

“I think Catterall [wins on] points. It’s gonna be a more competitive fight. The only thing we can do as fighters is do our job, and that’s fight. Judges need to score the fight fairly and we’ve seen in the fight before they’ve not done that. Hopefully the judges can do their job and it’s a fair result.”

Azim, 21, vacated the European title Smith is the mandatory challenger for to instead pursue a fight with Harlem Eubank.

Since the 27-year-old Smith’s victory over Zepeda he has also been linked to a fight with fellow Matchroom fighter Regis Prograis – among Taylor’s former opponents – and he explained: “The latest with me – I’ve got purse bids [due] for the European title. We’re going ahead with those, and names of Regis Prograis – they’re the fights I’m looking for. Hopefully we can make them happen.

“It’s whatever makes sense and the fights that can be made. The Regis fight’s looking like it’s going to be hard to make, but I take each fight at a time, and I trust the process, and [that] a couple of those big fights will come.

“We’re looking maybe [at the] end of July; just after July [for my next fight date]. We’re just working on a few things. I’ll have some fight news pretty soon. 

“I’m ranked three with the WBC, and I’m pushing up towards those bigger fights. Whatever the biggest fights are makes sense, so I’ll be keeping my eye on that fight [between Taylor and Catterall], but I’m on my own journey; on my own path. But I’m not a million miles away from these sort of fights.”