Teofimo Lopez is standing his ground when it comes to his disturbing rhetoric.

The former unified lightweight champion and current 140-pound contender turned heads recently when he described wanting “to kill” Josh Taylor, the WBO 140-pound titlist, ahead of their title fight this Saturday at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Lopez’s comment struck a nerve with the boxing public, with many chastising the 25-year-old Brooklyn native for the repulsive undertow of his words. Taylor, for his part, shrugged off Lopez’s remarks.

In a subsequent interview, Lopez defended his comments by pointing out that the outcome of death in boxing, while rare, is theoretically a distinct possibility for any given fighter that enters the ring. To that end, Lopez feels he is justified in talking about his fights in such grim terms.

Lopez also brought up the time he had nearly lost his life after his points loss to George Kambosos Jr. in November of 2021. A ring doctor told ESPN’s Mark Kriegel that Lopez, who was diagnosed with a dangerous lung condition, was “lucky he’s not dead.”  

“This is what I mean, boxing’s soft,” Lopez told FightHubTV. “I was gonna pass away against Kambosos cuz of my injuries that I had prior to that fight. Literally. So I thank God that I’m still here. But had I gone on, sh!t, they’ll do the 10-bell count, right? Then people will miss me and then be forgotten.

“But I’m not apologizing for my comments, no. If he dies, he dies. People have died in the sport. This is what comes with it. I know a lot of people are using the kid situation saying, ‘if you’re all about the kids then you shouldn’t be saying this and promoting it.’ No, no, no, no, relax. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m all about the kids and what I do it for and when I win it’s for the kids. Killing a man or not killing a man, it’s just part of the territory that you sign up for. There was a guy (Filipino boxer Kenneth Egano), May 6, he was 22 years old and he passed away. I think we all know about it. It’s just part of the sport. We used to get an average of six to eight fighters passing away.”

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing