Reigning WBO super lightweight champion Josh Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) returns to the ring on June 10 to take on Teofimo Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs). The fight is scheduled to take place at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City, USA. For both men, it will be their first appearance in the ring this year.
Taylor is making the second defense of his WBO belt, a title he claimed when he defeated Jose Ramirez via unanimous decision to become undisputed champion in 2021. Following one defense of his undisputed status, Taylor vacated or was stripped of his other three titles. He now only lays claim to the WBO belt. In the buildup to his ring return, Big Fight Weekend takes a closer look at Taylor’s career.
Taylor’s first foray into combat sports was not in boxing. In fact, he began with taekwondo and did not begin boxing until he was 15. At the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi, India, he competed as a lightweight and won silver. In 2012, Taylor took part in the European Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament and earned a spot at the London Olympics. Again competing as lightweight, he made it to the round of 16 before losing to the number two seed. In 2014, Taylor once again took part in the Commonwealth Games which was being held in Glasgow, Scotland. This time, he fought at super lightweight and won gold. A year later, he turned over to the professional ranks.
Early professional career
Taylor made his professional debut on July 18, 2015 in El Paso, USA, where he won via second round stoppage. For the next three years he would work his way up the rankings. Including his professional debut, he fought a total of three times in the USA in the early stages of his career. The remainder of his fights took place in the UK. Among his most prominent wins in this period was a seventh round stoppage victory over Ohara Davies, a ninth round knockout of Miguel Vazquez, and a unanimous decision over Viktor Postol.
WBSS, becoming undisputed, Catterall controversy
In late 2018, Taylor joined the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS). After stopping Ryan Martin in the quarterfinals of the tournament, he won a unanimous decision against Ivan Baranchyk to become a world champion for the first time. In the WBSS finals, he faced current WBC super lightweight champion Regis Prograis. The fight was competitive and despite one judge scoring the bout a draw, Taylor won the tournament and became a unified champion as the other two judges scored it for him.
Following a mandatory defense against Apinun Khongsong, many called for a fight with Ramirez to crown an undisputed champion. Fans got their wish as the two met in May of 2021 in what turned out to be a mostly dominant display for Taylor despite the narrow scorecards. With the win in Las Vegas, USA, Taylor became the second undisputed champion in the four-belt era, following current WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford.
Between the win over Ramirez and this Saturday’s bout, Taylor has fought only once. In what was expected to be a routine mandatory defense at home, Taylor ended up securing a controversial split decision against Jack Catterall. The bout saw Taylor get dropped and deducted a point in a fight many had Catterall winning.
Taylor vs. Lopez
Taylor now returns to the USA for a fifth time against former unified lightweight champion Lopez. Following his loss to George Kambosos Jr., Lopez moved up to super lightweight and has won two fights. Taylor and Lopez headline a card promoted by Top Rank Boxing that will be broadcast live on ESPN. Will Taylor successfully defend his title, or will the division crown a new king?