Josh Taylor has secured the balanced judging panel for his fight against Teofimo Lopez that his team requested.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the New York State Athletic Commission has approved England’s Steve Gray, New Jersey’s Joe Pasquale and Quebec’s Benoit Roussel as the three judges for the 12-round, 140-pound championship bout between Scotland’s Taylor and Brooklyn’s Lopez on Saturday night in New York. Canada’s Michael Griffin has been assigned as the referee for Taylor-Lopez as well.
ESPN will televise Taylor-Lopez as a main event from The Theater at Madison Square Garden (10 p.m. EDT).
Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) expressed concern to BoxingScene.com during a recent interview because three American judges worked his 12-round, 140-pound title unification fight against Jose Ramirez two years ago.
Taylor beat Ramirez by the same score, 114-112, on the cards of Nevada-based judges Tim Cheatham and Dave Moretti and New Jersey’s Steve Weisfeld in May 2021 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Ramirez was born and raised in Avenal, California, whereas Taylor traveled overseas to face Ramirez in the former WBC/WBO 140-pound champion’s home country.
“They tried to job me in the Ramirez fight,” Taylor told BoxingScene.com. “They scored it 114-112, all three judges, and I don’t think the fight was even close. I think Ramirez maybe won four rounds, if you’re lucky, and they gave him 114-112, with two knockdowns as well. So, take from that what you will, but I got the decision at the end of the day. Hopefully the judges will favor good, clean boxing and score it properly [against Lopez].”
Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) was born in Brooklyn and has resided in South Florida and Las Vegas. Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. promotes Lopez and Taylor, but Lopez, a former unified 135-pound champion, has boxed either at Madison Square Garden’s Theater or main arena eight times since he made his pro debut in November 2016.
The 25-year-old Lopez won a 10-round split decision over Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin (40-3, 13 KOs) in his last fight, a highly competitive clash that took place December 10 at Madison Square Garden.
California’s Max De Luca (96-93) and Canada’s Pasquale Procopio (97-92) both scored that closely contested fight for Lopez. Italy’s Guido Cavalleri scored Martin a 95-94 winner over Lopez, who was knocked down during the second round.
Taylor, who will fight in the United States for the fifth time Saturday night, thinks Lopez did enough to edge Martin. Lopez previously lost a 12-round split decision to Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. (20-2, 10 KOs) at The Theater in November 2021.
The WBO junior welterweight champion remained mindful, though, about boxing Lopez at a venue that has hosted almost half of Lopez’s professional fights.
“Obviously, I’ve requested to have three different judges, that there not be all American judges,” Taylor said during the abovementioned interview, before he knew which judges were assigned to the Lopez bout. “So, hopefully they accept what we’ve requested and hopefully that’s the case. But I don’t let things like that bother me anyway. I believe in myself and I’m confident in my ability, that it’s gonna be that much of a dominant display, that the judges can’t deny me.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.