Just two years ago, the idea of a clash between Josh Taylor, then the undisputed junior welterweight champion, and Teofimo Lopez, then the unified lightweight champion, would have had the boxing world buzzing. The two now clash on Saturday night with only one world title on the line and both men seeing their stock dip after recent outings.
Taylor (19-0, 13 KO) will be defending his WBO junior welterweight title when the pair meet in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He has forfeited or been stripped of the three other world titles he held after refusing mandatory title defenses, all in the wake of a disastrous fight against Jack Catterall in February 2022.
“I worked my ass off. Eleven weeks of camp. This is going to be the best version of me. Practice makes improvement. We’ve improved since my last fight. We’re ready to put on a show. I’m going to be a two-time lineal world champion.”
With the mix of personalities and the need for in-ring redemption for both supremely talented fighters, Saturday night promises to be a fascinating fight that will say much about where both men stand in the sport.
The undercard sees the return of heralded prospect Xander Zayas when he takes on Ronald Cruz at junior middleweight. Zayas is still building himself up as a pro at just 20 years old. He scored three wins in 2022 with one TKO. Saturday marks his first fight of 2023 against an opponent coming off a loss and a draw in his most recent appearances.
The fight with Catterall was Taylor’s first defense of his undisputed title after unifying the WBO, WBA, WBC and IBF titles with a win over Jose Ramirez. After struggling with the weight cut, Taylor looked flat while also struggling with his cardio. Most observers felt Catterall had done enough to win the fight, but Taylor escaped with a split decision victory while defiantly claiming there was no need for a rematch because he felt he clearly won the bout.
“There is genuine dislike here, he’s been disrespectful, so a lot of words he’s said I’m going to make him pay for on Saturday,” Taylor said. “You’ll see a Josh Taylor win, possibly by KO nice and early as well. For me this is a dream come true. Starting out as a professional or even as a young kid you always dream of coming over Stateside and fighting in venues like this. This is the mecca of boxing Madison Square Garden.
“Fighting in a place like this, topping the bill and bringing over the Tartan Army. I can’t wait to get in there and make another dream become a reality. This clown is sitting in my way. He’s a piece of cannon fodder, that’s all he is.”
Prelims start at 18:15 ET via ESPN+ and the main card begins at 20:00 ET on ESPN and ESPN+, with the co-main event featuring Xander Zayas vs. Ronald Cruz.
Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez quick results
Josh Taylor (19-0) vs. Teofimo Lopez (18-1) (WBO World Super Lightweight Championship) – 12 Rounds
Xander Zayas (15-0) vs. Ronald Cruz (18-2-1) (Super Welterweight) – 8 Rounds
Robson Conceicao (17-2) vs. Nicolas Polanco (20-4-1) (Super Featherweight) – 10 Rounds
Omar Rosario (10-0) vs. Jan Carlos Rivera (8-1) (Super Lightweight) – 8 Rounds
Damian Knyba (11-0) vs. Helaman Olguin (9-5-1) (Heavyweight) – 8 Rounds
Bruce Carrington (7-0) vs. Luis Porozo (16-6) (Featherweight) – 8 Rounds (On Now)
Lightweight: Henry Lebron def. Carlos Ramos via Unanimous Decision
When is it?
The fight will take place on Saturday 10 June, at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theatre in New York City.
The main card is set to begin at 1am BST on Sunday 11 June (5pm PT, 7pm CT, 8pm ET). Ring walks for the main event are then due at approximately 4am BST (8pm PT, 10pm CT, 11pm ET).
How can I watch it?
In the US, the event will air live on ESPN and ESPN+. In the UK, Sky Sports will broadcast the fights.
Sky Sports subscribers can watch the event live on TV, as well as on the broadcaster’s website and Sky Go app.