Josh Taylor received a gift from the judges as he kept hold of his undisputed world super-lightweight title with a controversial split decision in Glasgow. 

Catterall had been unbeaten in 26 fights going in but had not boxed in Taylor’s class and was widely written off. 

The 28-year-old from Chorley, Lancashire, outboxed Taylor for the first half of the fight and knocked him down in the eighth round, but it was hard to see how the champion, who struggled to pin the challenger down throughout, could have won. 

But Catterall’s night was to be ruined by the judges. One, Howard Foster, made him the winner by 113-112, but Ian John Lewis and Victor Loughlin had Taylor in front by scores of 114-111 and 113-112 respectively. 

After the decision was announced, Catterall stormed out of the ring and back to his dressing room in disgust. 

Taylor, though, said he had done enough to win. 

“100 percent [I did enough],” Taylor said. “I started a little slow but once I got into my rhythm and started getting my timing, I started to catch him with the bigger shots. He was spoiling a lot. 

“It wasn’t my best performance. I put a hell of a lot of pressure on myself and it showed in the first half of the fight. But I believe I got the win. Jack did very well. 

“Being the heavy favourite, being my first time back at home, put on pressure to put on a good show. It didn’t matter in the end, I got a good result. It was close, I let him have a little too much success by loading up too much, but overall I scored the bigger shots, the better shots, the more meaningful shots.” 

This was Taylor’s big homecoming with a string of huge plans across the Atlantic laid out in the future. 

The Scot had been on the verge of huge things when beating Regis Prograis at the O2 Arena, London, in 2019, for the IBF and WBA titles, only for the pandemic to hit. When he unified all four titles by beating Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas last summer, no Scottish fans could travel, while the politics of the time meant that no TV channel picked up the fight. 

The Hydro in Glasgow is Taylor’s second home, though. He won Commonwealth Games gold there in 2014 and first became a world champion there in 2019 when he beat Ivan Baranchyk for the IBF title, the last time Taylor had boxed in his native Scotland. 

Catterall was Taylor’s sixth successive unbeaten opponent and he had been made to wait for his chance, having been the WBO’s No 1 contender since December 2018. He took a stepaside deal to allow Taylor to face Ramirez and his reward was to fight for all the belts and was made to wait even longer when a Taylor knee injury saw this fight pushed back from December. 

But on his big night, Catterall kept calm in the Glasgow cauldron, boxing neatly, picking Taylor off and making the champion miss.  The crowd that had started at raucous, was slowly quietened as the shock of what was happening set in. 

The challenger landed an early left that knocked Taylor out of his stride and he was beating Taylor to the jab. In the second, while Taylor warmed to the task a bit more, Catterall moved around week and looked to catch Taylor in the way in, although the champion finished the round well. 

After starting well in the third, though, Taylor was caught by a good uppercut inside and a decent body shot as Taylor struggled to pin him down. 

The action was messy, though, and referee Marcus McDonnell was busy dishing out lectures, to Taylor for landing behind the head, to Catterall for holding. But Catterall opened up well in the fourth as Taylor looked frustrated. 

There was not much better in the fifth as Catterall repeatedly ducked under Taylor’s jab and then landed when the champion stood off and in the sixth round, Catterall banged home one-twos that Taylor didn’t seem able to stop. 

Taylor had some success with roughing up Catterall in the seventh round and in the eighth round, as Taylor tried to drag Catterall into a shoot-out, he was caught by a big left and dropped. The champion looked in bad trouble and tired. 

In the ninth round, Taylor threw everything at Catterall, but it got messy as they held and banged heads together. Catterall’s constant holding saw him deducted a point by McDonnell in the tenth round, but as Taylor opened up to try and turn the tide, Catterall got through with counters.  

Still, it was Taylor pressing the pace now, although in the eleventh round, Catterall got some space and jabbed, while Taylor’s task was made all the harder when he through a punch after the bell. 

In the last round, Taylor landed a big left as he tried to turn things around, but he didn’t look to have done enough. 

Jamie Moore, Catterall’s trainer, said his man had been robbed. 

“You are talking about a kid who has worked all his life to wait for that moment, who waited three years for his opportunity, who stepped asde and did the right thing for boxing to allow a unified champion, he gets his opportunity, performs like that and beat the champion in his own backyard and gets absolutely robbed,” Moore said. 

“Think about the message that send to people watching. My son is 16 and just getting into boxing , he’ll look at that and think ‘why should I get into boxing?’ Because the moment you think you are going to be crowned a world champion, it is snatched away from you. It’s disgusting. Jack is absolutely heartbroken.” 

Catterall might not get a rematch with Taylor, whose future could be up a division at welterweight. Taylor had looked drained at the Friday’s weigh-in and while he could defend his titles against Gervonta Davis or Teofimo Lopez, the temptation might be there to step up. 

“I made the weight good, but it is getting harder,” Taylor said. “That is most likely my last fight at 140. We left it a little bit late with taking the weight off and it showed a little bit in my performance. 

“I don’t think there is any need for a rematch. I won the fight in the second half, I won it by a couple of rounds. The referee taking a point off me hurt me but I still won the fight.  

“He put up a good fight for sure, but he never won the fight and he knows he never won the fight. We got the win, we move forward.” 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.