Josh Taylor thinks his fight with Teofimo Lopez is a significant upgrade from one with Jack Catterall.
Scotland’s Taylor, the WBO 140-pound titlist, is headed toward a showdown with Brooklyn’s Lopez later this summer, possibly in June in Taylor’s hometown of Edinburgh.
A Taylor-Lopez fight came somewhat out of left field because Taylor and Catterall had been locked in for a rematch for nearly a year. Taylor controversially defeated Catterall last February, prompting cries of corruption and robbery. Their rematch, which had been postponed several times, was going to be announced in January for March 4, but Taylor suffered a torn tendon in his foot, forcing the organizers to table the fight again.
But instead of facing Catterall, Taylor, the former undisputed champion at 140, appears to be on the verge of defending his lone WBO strap against Lopez, a former unified champion at 135.
Taylor's justification for moving off the Catterall rematch has to do with the WBO's recent mandate calling for Lopez to challenge Taylor. However, Top Rank, the promoter of both Taylor and Lopez, had already been in deep talks with both fighters to stage that fight prior to the WBO's announcement.
“They've ordered me to fight Teofimo Lopez,” Taylor told Sky Sports. “It’s one I want to do, It's the only belt I’ve got left, the WBO, so I want to keep it. If I went and then fought Jack I'd be fighting him with no titles. I want to keep the title. They're all my belts, but I want to keep this one. Further on down the line, Jack and me can still fight. I don't know what's going to happen now. I definitely will [but] it's out of my control, it's not my fault the WBO got in touch.
“At the end of the day it's out of my control. This fight (Lopez) is a much bigger fight than the Catterall fight. It's a much bigger fight and it's a harder fight. He is a much higher caliber of opponent. He has been at a higher level. He's been in with better fighters. He's done the business and got the t-shirt. I think it's a better fight.”
Taylor scoffed at critics who think he is “ducking” Catterall. To his credit, Taylor relinquished three of his four titles to ensure an immediate rematch with Catterall was possible.
“I have become undisputed, fighting on the road,” Taylor said. “To say I am afraid [of Catterall] is ridiculous. I just laugh. There was no one more than me who wanted to put this right. But this will happen.”
“The way him and his team are crying about it and moaning like little kids,” Taylor said of Catterall. “They’re moaning cry-babies, sore losers is what they are. I don't think Jack Catterall is going to go anywhere. He will get the chance to rectify it, but I highly doubt he is going to get near me.”
Catterall is set to appear on a Sky Sports card headlined by a Lawrence Okolie-David Light cruiserweight title bout in Manchester, England, on March 25.
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