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July 10, 2023
By: Kirk Jackson
The Takeover continues and has officially planted a flag firmly in second division.
Former unified and lineal lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (19-1, 13 KO’s) captured the WBO and Ring Magazine junior welterweight world titles with a 12-round unanimous decision win against former undisputed champion Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor (19-1, 13 KO’s), Saturday evening at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Taylor started strong, connecting with straight left hands and counterpunches to the body.
But to Lopez’s credit and ability to adapt, by rounds three and four, the 32-year-old Scotsman, began feeling the sting of Lopez’s powerful, crisp punches.
What tends to happen, when a fighter is facing the challenge of an opposing sharp, quick, and powerful counter-puncher, is it creates hesitation.
In Taylor’s case as a result, his offense became tentative to the point it was completely stagnant and ineffective and the pace of the fight decelerated, the flow of the bout played to Lopez’s favor.
Lopez, was able to think, set traps, create. Being the faster and flashier puncher, everything movement from him draws attention and a reaction, which is also telling for judges.
As the fight progressed and “The Takeover” took over, the native New Yorker piled punches, points and looked like he could stop Taylor if he pushed the pace even further.
And again, to his credit, Lopez punctuated his victory in the final rounds with explosive shots of offense, inflicting pain on Taylor as the fight drew to conclusion.
With scores of 115-113 (twice) and 117-111, the 25-year-old Brooklyn native is now a lineal world champion across two weight classes.
“Josh Taylor is a tough dude,” said Lopez in his post-fight interview.
I can see why he beat so many fighters. But you’ve got to counter the counterpuncher. You’ve got to outsmart the man and get in there. And I did that. I think I did enough. This is what it is all about.”
“I questioned myself for a good reason. You guys don’t understand. I’ve always been my worst critic. And you guys got a little glimpse of it. But I’ve just got to ask you one thing, and one thing only. Do I still got it?”
For Taylor, this is his first official defeat as a professional. He had previously defeated five world champions – Miguel Vazquez, Viktor Postol, Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez before losing to Lopez.
“No excuses,” said Taylor in his post-fight interview with ESPN.
“It wasn’t my best. The better man won tonight. I’ve got no excuses. I fought to the best of my ability. He was better than me tonight. It is what it is. Congratulations to Teofimo.”
“I thought it was a close fight. I’d love to do it again. I definitely know I’m better than that, and I know I can beat him still. I’d love to do it again. But he’s the champ, so the ball is in his court.”
To Taylor’s credit, he placed forth solid effort, just looked like he did not have the strength or any other attributes to deal with the puzzle that is Teofimo Lopez.
Nor did he have the answers to deal with Jack Catterall back in February of 2022 (duh duh duh)…
On that night, despite being knocked down by Catterall in the eighth round, and being thoroughly outboxed, Taylor was handed a controversial split decision victory, with scores of 114–111 and 113–112 in his favor, and the score of 113–112 in favor of Catterall.
Statistics do not tell the whole tale, but according to CompuBox, Catterall landed more punches than Taylor in 11 out of 12 rounds.
Catterall landed 120 of 525 (23%) total punches, and 81 of 267 (30%) of his power punches, with Taylor throwing and landing far fewer in comparison: 73 of 306 (24%) overall, and 57 of 179 (32%) on power punches.
All of this is important, because this creates controversy, intrigue, and further complicates the junior welterweight landscape as far as who is the best?
Is it Regis Prograis, two-time WBC light welterweight world champion, Rolando “Rolly” Romero, the newly crowned WBA champion in the division, or Subriel Matias, the Puerto Rican, IBF champion in the division?
Or is it the uncrowned, undisputed/lineal champion Catterall? Or does Ryan Garcia, Gary Antuanne Russell, Sandor Martin (gave Teofimo considerable trouble), Arnold Barboza Jr. or the former champion Jose Ramirez have legitimate stakes to the claim as best in the division?
Also, current undisputed lightweight champion Devin “The Dream” Haney can also move up and test the waters.
Or does it fall under the main topic of this conversation, “The Takeover?”
The self-proclaimed “Double Greatest” is back on top where he would like to be. If he decides to continue his career, the boxing world will tune in to see what he does next.