They both needed this fight, Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez. As Chris Mannix pointed out on his podcast, 2 years ago this would have been a super fight. Now, not so much, but still a very tasty fight and for Taylor’s WBO Welterweight belt.
What Happened To Change It?
Fights. Josh Taylor got the decision against Jack Caterall, but it wasn’t seen as the right decision. Teofimo Lopez lost his title to George Kambosos and then didn’t delight in his next 2 fights, shading it most recently against Sandor Martin.
Let’s not forget that those 2 opponents are no slouches, but the past is dogging these fighters, particularly for Lopez, whose comments recently to the PUNSH DRUNK YouTube channel about wanting to end an opponent’s life in the ring were completely inappropriate, even considering the ‘big man banter’ of boxing – in this case, it made him look the smaller man. But it might also have been an indication of the mental struggles Lopez faces.
Far too wide. The other two were more like it, 115-113, and all of the thoughts I heard before the fight went for Taylor. The judges didn’t.
And it was a classy fight, tight and competitive. One of the stories of the fight was that Lopez was just too fast for Taylor, which Taylor didn’t help by moving into the punches when trying to look busy; this was in the middle of the fight though, Lopez even hit what seemed to be a Superman punch in round 7, he just avoided Taylor as well and landed combos of his own in the 9th – Josh had to hold in the last round due to cumulative effects.
Late on, Taylor was just too keen to get inside, not patient enough but by then, the Lopez counter punching having its effect.
Afterwards, Taylor said;
‘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 Teófimo.’
as reported by the Guardian. But things could have been so different and if/when they meet again, they might be.
The referee for this fight was Michael Griffin and it was up to him to police the fight. Different refs have different views on that policing, as they should, with some exercising largesse and some getting more involved. I think Griffin was rather of the latter kind.
In the early rounds, it seemed that way anyway, which, and this is my view not seen or heard elsewhere, had a hand in changing the outcome of the fight.
You see, even in the first round, Taylor tried to assert himself, even seemed to try to swarm a little, roughhousing perhaps, and was spoken to by the ref in the third and separated from Lopez early on.
Lopez has a rhythm. A devastating rhythm. He was settling into it by the 4th stanza; Taylor tried to push him out of that rhythm by giving him something to think about, applying pressure and making him uncomfortable.
Early on, it didn’t seem as though he was allowed to do that, nor when he had Lopez in the corner in the 5th, when they might have been able to work out of it, but were separated- this is not a comment on Griffin’s refereeing, different refs do it different ways and that’s how it should be.
But think how it might have been if Taylor had been allowed to push the pace, the leather and the body right at Lopez. We can’t say of course, but if Taylor had pushed his opponent off his rhythm, perhaps he wouldn’t have felt that stiff jab, that body shot which made him take a few paces back in the 4th or the feinting which frustrated him too much.
Taylor might also not have tried to get inside fruitlessly later on either; it seemed that was the plan, but without the softening up work, the bossing early on, that’s harder.
It Wasn’t Just This Though
Lopez won the WBO Welterweight belt, Lopez handed Taylor his first defeat, Lopez got the decision because he was better on the night. Taylor did stand in front of him too long, but the new champ was sharper, silkier and more spiteful on the night. He won the title at only his third fight at the weight. That’s impressive. And although Taylor’s plan was restricted, Lopez, who mouthed ‘Do I still got it?’ to his team after a difficult night against Sandor Martin, proved that he still has.