NEW YORK – Josh Taylor handled his first professional defeat with class.
The former undisputed 140-pound champion completely credited Teofimo Lopez for his superb performance in their 12-round, 140-pound championship clash Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Taylor didn’t use his long layoff or anything else as justification for why Lopez beat him so thoroughly, even though their fight was closer on the scorecards of judges Steve Gray (115-113) and Joe Pasquale (115-113) than it seemed.
Taylor also informed ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna during his post-fight interview that he is likely to move up to the welterweight limit of 147 pounds for his next fight.
“Nah, the layoff has nothing to do with it,” Taylor said. “I’ve got no excuses. You know, it’s just he was better on the night. You know, so I think probably I’ll probably, most likely be moving up to [welterweight] now. But, you know, there’s no excuses. He was the better man tonight. I have no excuses.”
Judge Benoit Roussel scored Lopez a clearer winner over Taylor, who won only three rounds on Roussel’s card (117-111). Taylor questioned that score, but he didn’t dispute that Lopez, a former unified lightweight champion, defeated him in a main event ESPN televised.
The 32-year-old Taylor hadn’t boxed in more than 15 months before he opposed Lopez in their fight for Taylor’s WBO junior welterweight title. More than a year had passed since the Scottish southpaw’s controversial 12-round, split-decision victory over Jack Catterall in February 2022 at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland.
Taylor (19-1, 13 KOs) was supposed to face England’s Catterall (27-1, 13 KOs) in a 12-round rematch, but it was postponed twice, first from February 4 to March 4, and then indefinitely due to a foot injury Taylor sustained while training in January. The Taylor-Catterall rematch wasn’t rescheduled again because the WBO eventually ordered Taylor to make a mandated defense of his belt versus Lopez.
Taylor had boxed only once before facing Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs) in the two years since he dropped Jose Ramirez twice and won their 12-round, 140-pound title unification bout by unanimous decision in May 2021 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Except for one fight he won at the welterweight limit in November 2015, Taylor has competed at or near the junior welterweight maximum of 140 pounds throughout his eight-year professional career. The 2012 Olympian stands 5-foot-10 and has been considered a big fighter for his weight class, but he won’t have that size advantage against most opponents in the welterweight division.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.