FLEMINGTON, New Jersey – Teofimo Lopez will have plenty of appealing options within the 140-pound division if he defeats Sandor Martin on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
Lopez hopes, however, that the undefeated, undisputed champion who might move up to welterweight sticks around for two more fights at the junior welterweight limit.
“The goal for next year is Josh Taylor in the UK,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com, “to kick his ass in the UK, and give the fans a huge performance, a good treat.”
The 31-year-old Taylor has relinquished three of the four 140-pound championships he owned as boxing’s second fully unified junior welterweight champion of the four-belt era. The Scottish southpaw will box at least one more time in that weight class, though, when Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) defends his WBO belt again against England’s Jack Catterall (26-1, 13 KOs) in a 12-round rematch on a date to be determined late in February or early in March at OVO Hydro in Glasgow.
The 25-year-old Lopez expects Taylor to redeem himself in this second fight with Catterall, a fellow southpaw who tested Taylor on his way to losing a controversial 12-round split decision February 26 at OVO Hydro. While welterweight fights might entice Taylor to move up to the 147-pound division after he faces Catterall a second time, Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) thinks their showdown would be lucrative enough to lure Taylor into one last 140-pound bout before he leaves that division.
Las Vegas’ Lopez and Taylor are both promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., which should make their fight easier to put together.
“I believe if the money’s right and if he stays consistent,” Lopez said, “meaning like when he’s not fighting staying consistent on his weight – but I believe that with the right money, in the UK against Teofimo, definitely, I believe he’ll do one more [fight at 140]. Win or lose, it’s a win-win for him.”
A diplomatic Lopez wouldn’t say whether he thinks Taylor did enough to beat Catterall in their closely contested fight nine months ago.
Catterall surprisingly knocked Taylor to the canvas early in the eighth round. Taylor got up quickly, cleared his head, rallied in the later rounds and overcame a point deduction for hitting Catterall after the bell sounded to end the 11th round to win on two scorecards.
Judges Ian-John Lewis (114-111) and Victor Loughlin (113-112) scored Taylor the winner by slim margins. Judge Howard Foster scored the action 113-112 for Catterall, who also had a point taken away by referee Marcus McDonnell for excessive holding during the 10th round.
“That’s why they’re doing a rematch,” Lopez said. “That way, we can settle the whole controversial situation we had the last time.”
Lopez, meanwhile, learned only three weeks ago that his own opponent changed for his fight Saturday night in New York. Martin (40-2, 13 KOs), a Spanish southpaw, replaced Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs) on relatively short notice because Pedraza contracted an undisclosed illness during training camp for a main event ESPN will televise.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.