Make no mistake about it, Josh Taylor should be coming into this Saturday’s bout with Teofimo Lopez as the unified 4-belt junior welterweight world champion. Boxing politics, however, killed that reality. But, despite “only” being the WBO champ at the moment, the “Tartan Tornado” carries himself as THE man in the 140 lb. division.
“The way I think he’s going to fight, we’ll put him out of there early,” Taylor recently told Sky Sports. “But if it goes the other way, which I think it might do as well, it’ll be a boxing match, a clever boxing match but nothing that I’m going to be surprised with.
“I’ve watched him quite a bit in the lead up to this fight and I think I know what I’m expecting. But whatever he brings, I’m more than ready for.
“Having said that, the fighter that beat Lomachenko is the version of Teofimo Lopez that I’m preparing for; a very good fighter.”
The 32-year-old native of Scotland will be working his first fight under the guidance of new trainer Joe McNally and he claims to be revitalized by the change.
“I’ve got– I’ve said it so many times– my mojo back. I feel like I’ve got it back. I just feel like I’m back to my old chirpy self. The way I was before in the lead up to the [Regis] Prograis fight. I feel I’m back to that kind of mentality. That sort of form as well,” Taylor said.
“I wouldn’t say the love for the game was lost. I just felt like there was just something always missing, that one link missing that I was looking for that I wasn’t able to get out. The full potential out of myself.
“There’s none of that now. I feel like I’m unlocking my full potential and can be myself and improving as well, improving on the bits of my game that I need to improve on. I just feel like I’m firing on all cylinders.”
But, getting back to Lopez, there’s definitely no love lost between the two men.
“His personality is just a little bit irritating,” Taylor said. “He’s said a few things about me for a couple of years now. You’ve run your mouth for a couple of years, now you’re going to pay for it.
“There will be verbal jousting at some point in fight week but at that point I’m just ready to fight you know, I don’t really care about mind games and all that kind of stuff. I know I can get in his head, and I know I can manipulate him but I’m not really too bothered about it.”
In a recent appearance on The Last Stand Podcast with Brian Custer, the veteran champ gave Teofimo credit where credit was due, but he also affirmed that there’d be plenty weakness in Lopez’s game to exploit come June 10.
“I think he is a good fighter,” Taylor said. “He does a lotta things really, really good. He’s very athletic, he’s quick, he’s explosive, you know, he’s got good punching combinations, things that I know. But I see that he makes a lot of mistakes as well, makes a lot of errors, leaves his self wide open. And I see I’ve got a lot of holes in his game that I’m gonna exploit. Obviously, I’m not gonna say them here on this interview. But yeah, I see a lot of things that I can expose him with on fight night.”
Josh Taylor defends his WBO junior welterweight title against former three-belt lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez this Saturday, June 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York atop an ESPN/ESPN+ card.