The WBO has just ordered a Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez bout for Taylor’s WBO junior welterweight title and they’ve given the two sides until February 24 to reach a deal before a purse bid is ordered.
You could call this one a sweet and sour bout.
“Sweet” because it IS a sweet matchup. These are two high-end fighters with high-end skills who’ve hit rough patches in their careers and desperately need a high-profile victory right about now. Both are also fiercely, almost obnoxiously, proud fighters who insist on victory.
“Sour” because both can be accused of stepping around more logical, more pressing bouts to face one another. Taylor was supposed to be facing Jack Catterall this March, in a rematch of their controversial February, 2022 bout that many felt should’ve gone to Catterall. A torn plantar fascia in Taylor’s foot put the kibosh on the planned rematch. The sudden emergence of this Lopez fight angered a lot of fans who had hoped to see Catterall get a long-deserved second shot at Taylor. The former 3-belt lightweight champ Lopez, meanwhile, had become top challenger to WBC junior welterweight champ Regis Prograis, but is ditching that bout for the Taylor fight.
None were more surprised by this Taylor-Lopez talk than a bemused Jack Catterall, who may go without ever getting a chance to prove he legitimately beat Taylor the first time around.
“I just find it quite funny when I woke up this morning to the news of Taylor and Lopez,” Catterall told iD Boxing. “You’ve got Lopez who is ducking Prograis and you’ve got Taylor who is ducking me. So, it’s like a battle of the ducks. We’ll see how that one unfolds.”
But out of the ruins comes the possibility of another quality pairing– Catterall vs. Prograis. It would be a bout between two fighters with close decision losses to Taylor, but also with legitimate arguments that they could’ve (and maybe should’ve) gotten the win.
“My focus is to try and get busy and get back to a world title and the easiest possible route for me is Regis Prograis,” Catterall said.
“Regis’ team has reached out and they’re open to making the fight,” Catterall added. “It’s a great fight. And there’s nothing blocking that fight from happening. Again, we’ve seen [Jose] Ramirez and Lopez ducking Regis. He’s a fighting man. Likewise, I’m a fighting man. That’s a great fight…We’ve only had the one loss in Taylor but again in my opinion, we both beat him. It’s a great fight and I don’t believe there’s anything stopping that from happening.”
What could stop this fight, however, is some very real animosity between the two fighters’ promoters, which resulted in Prograis’ promoter Probellum suing Caterall’s promoter Boxxer for defamation. The beef came over Probellum’s alleged ties to accused Irish cartel leader Daniel Kinahan and Boxxer’s reported insistence on weeding out potential partners with alliances to Probellum. It remains to be seen how the recent dissolution of Probellum may or may not effect this possible Prograis-Catterall contest.
At any rate, maybe fight fans are the beggars that can’t be choosers in all of this. If Taylor-Lopez and Prograis-Catterall go through, that’s two top notch fights on the schedule to enjoy. There will also be the possibility of the winners facing one another next. There’d be nothing but pride and the usual boxing politics standing in the way of that.
If this is the order of events that absolutely has to be, then so be it. Both are damn fine bouts. Enjoy.