In the very arena where he lost his lightweight titles 19 months before, former unified lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez put together a command performance Saturday night in a 12 round domination of WBO/lineal 140 lb. champ Josh Taylor and become a world champion, again.
The bout capped the Top Rank Boxing/ESPN show in the MSG Hulu Theater and saw Lopez ooze confidence, while bombing shots round after round on the champ on his way to the easy decision on official scores of 117-111 and 115-113 on the other two cards.
The Takeover was unstoppable tonight 🤫
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 11, 2023
The Scotland native Taylor, who hadn’t fought in 16 months since his 12 round win over Jack Catterall, got off to a good start by scoring with right jabs and a couple of hard lefts out of the southpaw stance in the first couple of rounds. However, Lopez figured him out starting in the third round at distance and continued to score throughout the bout with lead right hands and hard lefts to the body.
The New Yorker Lopez, now 20-1, 13 KOs, dominated the power shots in the fight scoring a lopsided 138-60 advantage, according to Compubox stats. And, he was in complete control in the final two rounds, landing repeated hard right hooks and right uppercuts and the final two frames that staggered Taylor a couple of times.
“I’m so thankful right now. It’s been a long time coming,” Lopez said to ESPN after the bout. “We just beat the #1 ranked guy…lineal world champion, Josh Taylor. He’s a tough dude, man. I could see why he beat so many fighters, but you got to counter the counter puncher. You gotta outsmart the man and get in there. And, I think I did enough.”
Indeed he did do enough, as he swept the final two rounds on all three judges official cards to earn the win. Two of them had the fight even at 95-95 headed into the 11th. The third judge had Lopez up 97-93 through 10 rounds.
It’s sweet redemption for Lopez after he lost the WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight titles to Australian George Kambosos in another tough decision back in November 2021. Lopez had since won two fights at junior welterweight and he was put in the #1 mandatory spot by the WBO.
The win by Lopez, known as “The Takeover” previously, is the biggest since he won the lightweight titles by beating one of the top pound for pound fighters in boxing in Vasiliy Lomachenko by decision in October 2020.
Meanwhile, due to inactivity and not having lucrative mandatory options other than Lopez, Taylor, now 19-1, elected to vacate three of his undisputed belts over the last year. And, he’s probably now regretting coming to the U.S. and losing the final one badly to Lopez.
“Listen, no excuses. It wasn’t my best” the former champ conceded to ESPN post fight. “Better man won on the night. I gave it the best of my ability….congratulations to Teofimo.”
There is not an automatic rematch clause, although Taylor indicated he’d love the chance to fight Lopez again. However, he also conceded that he’ll likely move up to welterweight, which could make fighting Lopez very unlikely, as he’ll probably look to unify at 140 lb.
Earlier in the night, unbeaten junior middleweight prospect Xander Zayas improved to 16-0, 12 KOs, with a eight round unanimous decision win over Ronald Cruz. Zayas scored a hard right hand knockdown in the first :30 of the fight and controlled the action from there. The 20 year old Zayas was the faster and harder puncher throughout against the bout against the veteran winning 80-71 on all three cards.