Josh Taylor is confident that his preparation for his fight against Teofimo Lopez has been so superior to how he trained for his previous bout that it could lead to a quick knockout victory Saturday night.
Taylor predicted just that Thursday during their final press conference at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“A Josh Taylor win, that’s all,” Taylor told moderator Mark Shunock. “Possibly by KO, nice and early as well.”
Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs), a former unified lightweight champion, hasn’t been knocked out in 19 professional fights. The Brooklyn native has been knocked down, however, in two of his past three bouts by George Kambosos Jr. and Sandor Martin.
Australia’s Kambosos, who was undefeated at that time, surprisingly dropped Lopez in the first round of their lightweight title fight in November 2021 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden, the same venue where Taylor and Lopez will fight. Lopez recovered and eventually knocked Kambosos to the canvas in the 10th round, but he lost a 12-round split decision.
Spain’s Martin (40-3, 13 KOs) produced a flash knockdown in the second round of Lopez’s last bout. Lopez again got up, made their fight very competitive and won a 10-round split decision December 10 at Madison Square Garden.
Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) also hit the canvas in his last fight. Jack Catterall caught him with a left hand that sent Taylor down early in the eighth round of their fight for Taylor’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 140-pound championships.
A resilient Taylor recovered as well, overcame another point deduction for hitting Catterall after the bell sounded to end the 11th round and won a controversial split decision 15 months ago at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. His admitted poor performance in that February 2022 match motivated Taylor to take this training camp much more seriously than when he encountered Catterall (27-1, 13 KOs).
“Listen, we can both go on previous performances and say, you know, you’re only as good as your fight,” Taylor said. “But I believe that’s a load of sh!t. You know, I prepared crap for the last fight, so I performed crap. You know, he, I believe he was the same – takes his eye off the ball and he performed crap as well. … He’s up against the king of the division.
“I know he’s a good fighter, the version that beat Lomachenko, who’s a very good fighter. And that’s the version I’m preparing for, so it’s all about your preparation. And this time, I’ve prepared diligently and to the best of my ability. And you’ll see the best of me on Saturday night.”
Taylor, 32, and Lopez, 25, will headline a doubleheader ESPN will televise Saturday night. The left-handed Taylor will defend his WBO junior welterweight championship against Lopez, the mandatory challenger for his title.
ESPN’s two-bout broadcast is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. EDT. Puerto Rican junior middleweight Xander Zayas (15-0, 10 KOs) will battle Los Angeles’ Ronald Cruz (18-1-1, 12 KOs) in the eight-round opener of this telecast.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.