Sunday, October 01, 2023  |



Fight Picks: Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez

Josh Taylor (left) vs. Teofimo Lopez
Fighters Network

On Saturday, The Ring Magazine and WBO junior welterweight titleholder Josh Taylor will face former undisputed lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden, New York.

​The eagerly anticipated showdown will be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT.

Taylor was a decorated amateur before turning professional in 2015. He claimed wins over former titleholders Miguel Vazquez (KO 9) and Viktor Postol (UD 12) before entering the World Boxing Super Series. In a terrific run, the talented Scotsman beat the previously undefeated Ryan Martin (TKO 7); wrenched the IBF title from Ivan Baranchyk (UD 12) and unified against WBA beltholder Regis Prograis (MD 12). The latter victory saw the 32-year-old southpaw claim The Ring championship.

“The Tartan Tornado” went on to become undisputed 140-pound champion by beating WBC and WBO titlist Jose Ramirez (UD 12). Taylor struggled with Jack Catterall before being awarded a highly controversial 12-round split decision and hasn’t fought since. During that time, he has either vacated or been stripped of three of his titles.

Lopez, The Ring’s No. 9-rated junior welterweight, represented Honduras at the 2016 Olympics. Since turning professional, the big puncher went about his business in devastating fashion, scoring highlight reel knockouts against Mason Menard (KO 1), Diego Magdaleno (KO 7) and Edis Tatli (KO 5). After a learning experience win over Masayoshi Nakatani (UD 12), Lopez was back to his brilliant best, demolishing IBF titleholder Richard Commey (TKO 2).

The 25-year-old became undisputed lightweight king when he edged past Vasiliy Lomachenko (UD 12). An often-postponed bout and outside-the-ring drama meant Lopez didn’t face IBF mandatory George Kambosos for 13 months and, when he did, he shockingly dropped a 12-round split decision. Since then, Lopez has moved up to 140 pounds and won two fights.

Taylor (19-0, 13 knockouts) is the naturally bigger man. Can he impose his skill and will and make it a long night for the talented but erratic challenger? Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) hasn’t looked great in his two 140-pound outings and questioned if he still has it. Can he find his way back to form at just the right time? Taylor looked flat against Catterall some 16 months ago. He also needs a return to form but will he have any ring rust? Lopez was on top of the world after he beat Lomachenko, Since then, things have gone awry inside the ring and in his private life. Is he able to put those demons to one side?

Online gambling group William Hill lists Taylor as an 8/13 (-163) favorite, while Lopez is priced at 6/5 (+120) the draw is 18/1 (+1800).

Here’s how the experts see it:


“Fascinating matchup. Taylor’s a big junior welterweight with good reach but he often neglects his jab and doesn’t shy away from infighting. López is an explosive counterpuncher, so the defending champ may fall into the strengths of the former lightweight champ. However, Taylor is as tough and battle-tested as elite fighters come. I think his tenacity, confidence and versatility will tell over a hotly-contested 12 rounds. Josh Taylor by decision.”

Josh Taylor (left) vs. Jose Ramirez. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Josh Taylor (left) vs. Jose Ramirez. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

“This fight has a ‘Loser Leaves Town’ feel to it. Taylor flattered to deceive against Jack Catterall over a year ago and hasn’t fought since, while Lopez has had two fights since losing his undisputed lightweight title to George Kambosos. Since moving up, Lopez hasn’t looked so dominant as he did at 135, notably struggling with Sandor Martin. This fight should bring out the best in both men, which would be a real treat for us watching. I get the feeling, in terms of talent, that Taylor is a very solid 8, while Lopez can be a 9, but is also a little erratic and can be a 7. In other words, if Lopez is the best version of himself, he can win. However he has a very unsettling emotional relationship with his father, which has come to the fore several times. I think that pressure derails Teofimo and takes his focus. That is part of the reason I think Taylor is of sound body (after a few injuries) and mind and will bring his best game and, I feel, begin to take over in the second half and breakdown Lopez in around eight or nine rounds.”

“Predicting this fight is next to impossible, given Taylor’s long layoff and weight-making issues of the past, combined with the strong connection between Lopez’s state of mind and his performances in the ring as well as his struggle to solve tricky southpaw Sandor Martin in his most recent outing. Given their modest work rates and their displays of power, this should be a tense contest with pockets of explosiveness. While it is true that the 32-year-old Taylor is seven years older, he has fought the better opposition at this weight and he showed against Ramirez he can fight effectively on the road and under the bright lights. Assuming both men are in prime condition, physically and mentally, I believe Taylor will smartly use his physical advantages and lefty stance to limit Lopez’s effectiveness and capture a victory on points.”

“A tough proposition for both men, indeed. Not exactly a crossroads bout but it certainly feels like both men have a lot to prove, which is surprising at this stage of their careers. Teo has one loss and Taylor should have one himself, in which case both of their records should be almost identical. Teo has a chance to make that a reality but he’s erratic and out of focus, even during his best fights, and Taylor almost never is. It’s a toss-up for me but I do see Taylor being more consistent and taking advantage of Teo’s mistakes to end up with a solid unanimous decision win.”

“I was an early adopter of Josh Taylor and have yet to pick against him…but am having doubts for this matchup with Teofimo Lopez. Not on skillset or comparative resumes but the long layoff (last in the ring, February of 2022) concerns me. I am also in the minority of people who thought Taylor beat Jack Catterall. Despite my hesitation, I believe Taylor will find his way, working behind that accurate jab and intelligent counters, unsettling Teofimo after dropping the first two or three rounds. It should play out much like the Ramirez fight, where a knockdown permanently swings momentum in Taylor’s favor. Teofimo is the type to fight up or down to the level of opposition, so I don’t expect him to go meekly but do not see him reversing momentum late. I like Taylor to win a unanimous decision by two or three rounds.”

Sandor Martin (left) and Teofimo Lopez exchange punches during their junior welterweight fight at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Sandor Martin (left) and Teofimo Lopez exchange punches during their junior welterweight fight at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)


“If there’s anything to hold against Josh Taylor’s chance of defeating Teofimo Lopez on Saturday night, it’s his inactivity since his split nod versus Jack Catterall nearly 16 months ago…but that’s it. If Taylor can shake off any (if any) ring rust he has and control the proceedings, he has every tool at his disposal to beat Lopez. Since his loss to George Kambosos Jr. Lopez has fought but twice at junior welterweight and eked out a split decision win in his previous bout, versus Sandor Martin six months ago. Not exactly a signature victory against a man whose claim to fame was beating a seemingly confused Mikey Garcia. And all the trash-talk in the world won’t win a fight. It never has. Trash-talk is only window dressing for those who actually have the skills to dominate and, if his own brand of mental insecurity is any indication, Lopez isn’t that guy, at least in this fight. I’ve got Taylor in this one, nine rounds to three, 117-111.


“The loser of the fight between Taylor and Lopez has no place to go. Neither boxer has their performance leading into this fight. However, I feel there is something amiss in Lopez, who seems to be questioning himself as to whether he belongs at the elite level. Taylor has the naturally bigger frame. Lopez looks busy doing nothing and, for whatever reason, switches off psychologically. I believe, at this point in their respective careers, Taylor is stronger mentally and physically and should win this fight via split decision.”

“Great match up. I think Josh Taylor is the best 140-pound fighter in the world until someone proves otherwise. Taylor is a smart southpaw with a mean chip on his shoulder – the type of guy who will take it to another gear, physically and mentally, if and when needed. Teofimo has similar qualities and is probably the stronger fighter physically but this fight won’t get physical unless Taylor allows it. I like Taylor by convincing decision.”

“I think Lopez is mentally weak. He asked after his last fight if he still has it. I think Taylor is going to capitalize on that. I think Taylor is mentally strong but I don’t know how much he has left in the tank; it seems like he’s fading. You hear a bunch of rumors about him in the UK and, as far as Lopez, Lopez does have the style to beat Taylor but I just don’t think he’s going to beat Taylor. I definitely feel like Taylor is going to win. I don’t even feel like it’s going to be close. For me, I think it’s going to lopsided for Taylor.”

Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor (right) duked it out in a "Fight of the Year" candidate that saw both men elevate their reputations. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor (right) duked it out in a “Fight of the Year” candidate that saw both men elevate their reputations. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

“You’ve got two aggressive guys in the ring, who like to control the ring. I know Teo if definitely a gifted fighter; he has those fast twitch muscles, explosive power, but he hasn’t really shown that at junior welterweight. His gifts showed in the lightweight class but now he’s facing a guy that has been at junior welterweight his entire career, who has fought a boat load of top guys early in his career. Looking at his resume, [Viktor] Postol, [Ivan] Baranchyk, Miguel Vazquez, Ramirez, Prograis! It’s really hard to go against that type of pedigree, that type of experience, a guy that came here to the States. He’s been here before in hostile territory in Las Vegas with all of Ramirez’s fans in the area and took the title. He blows me away. Taylor is a phenomenal fighter. The inactivity is what’s bothering me in this fight. We haven’t seen him since Catterall. The injuries of Taylor are bothering me as well. But let’s say all things are good and he’s equal and fine. I just think, stylistically, Taylor. Teo has gotten away with his gifts, which is his unusual technique and strategy. He fights southpaws a little different from other people. I know ring rust could be apparent early but after four, he should be in his groove and he should be able to press the action and outwork him. Both these guys are not jabbers but Taylor pressures with more of volume; Teo pressures with technical aggression. You had a guy like Campa, a big guy at 140, who was able back up Teo, make him use his legs, pin him on the ropes. What do you think a guy that is bigger than you, taken punches from bigger punchers than you, what do you think he’s going to do? I think the aggression, work rate, pressure Taylor puts on Teo, he’s going to put him in the hot seat. Now if Teo can’t hurt Taylor, that’s going to be bad news for him. Taylor can punch, a ton of mental toughness, grit and skill on top of that and he’s a winner. Teo is inconsistent at 140 and we never know what his mental state is. I’ve always told him this: If you’re 100-percent, mentally, nobody can beat you. He’s that gifted but his last two appearances weren’t that great. I like Taylor. I think Taylor could get a stoppage.”

“Taylor wins, in my opinion, I believe Taylor will be too big for and too strong for Lopez. I think Taylor will bully Lopez for 12 rounds.”

“This is a difficult fight to call. Despite me picking Taylor to win inside the distance, I rate Lopez highly. I just question his mental stability and, against a truth machine like Taylor, that is going to be vital. The record shows that when Taylor is up for a fight, we see the very best of him. It seems like a long time ago but Josh snatched the unbeaten records of Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis, and Jose Ramirez en route to the undisputed championship at 140. Those results are outstanding. Ever since defeating Vasiliy Lomachenko in New York, Lopez seems to have gone back a step. Even in fights he’s won, there seems to be a lack of drive and ambition. I think he has his moments against Taylor but I think the Scot is too big and tenacious for him.”

“This is a great matchup, two young guys in their prime fighting each other. What more can you ask for? For Taylor to win the fight, he is going to need to take Teo’s heart away from the start of the fight. For Teo to win the fight, he is going to need to fight and keep his focus like he did with the Loma fight. Teo has dealt with a lot of adversity; the question now is that, behind him or not, if he is not fully focused, he is going to have a hard time with Taylor. As far as Taylor, he had fought on the road so I don’t see any issues with that at all. The question is, will he be able to handle all of the shit-talking outside the ring? I am going with Josh Taylor in this one, for the simple fact that I am not sure all of Teofimo’s demons are behind him. Taylor by unanimous decision.”

Teofimo Lopez (right) and George Kambosos Jr. exchange punches. Photo by Ed Mulholland/ Matchroom Boxing

Teofimo Lopez (right) and George Kambosos Jr. exchange punches. Photo by Ed Mulholland/ Matchroom Boxing

“This is an incredible fight. Josh Taylor has been on a ridiculous run, beating Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez, Jack Catterall, etc. Teofimo Lopez, in my opinion, just has not looked like himself since the Lomachenko fight. However the kid is young, not even in his prime yet, and I think will get back to his dominant ways, at some point. But it will have to wait until after June 10th, I think Taylor fights smart and breaks him down en route to a unanimous decision.”

“Good fight; I can’t wait. I lean towards Taylor but I could see Lopez box him and pull off the upset. I think Taylor is mentally tougher than Lopez and wins a decision.”

“The X-factor for me is Taylor’s 16-month layoff. Meanwhile Lopez has had a couple of fights to get accustomed to the 140-pound division. I see a close distance fight with Taylor edging Lopez on the cards.”

“Two fighters with questions surrounding them for now. Is Josh Taylor still capable of his best at 140 pounds and, quite simply, how good is Teofimo Lopez? Taylor may have one last performance in him at this weight, if lessons have been learned from his last camp. And let’s not forget he’s returning from injury too. But it’s not so long ago the Scot was unifying the division and looking among the best in the sport. Meanwhile the stunning 2020 victory for Lopez over Lomachenko is looking more of an anomaly in his career than the launchpad it should’ve been. From the outside, his corner seems more of a hindrance than a help, at times, too. Lopez is the puncher here and wouldn’t be a surprise winner but I think Taylor has more tools, better variety and the mental toughness and attitude which can prove the difference. Taylor by decision.”

“A good fight that is more interesting than Terence Crawford-Errol Spence! We’re about to get a pick ’em fight. Both talented and in their prime. I’m leaning towards Taylor in a very close fight. I believe Taylor scores the better shots and, at the end, the judges will lean towards Taylor’s work.”

“Good two-way action, at times, but I think Taylor gets the best of it overall. I think Taylor outboxes and outhustles Teo over 12 rounds.”

“I definitely favor Josh Taylor in this fight. I think he’s going to cause a lot of problems for Lopez and he’s going to set a lot of traps for Lopez with the southpaw stance. Lopez may go into survival mode and look for one big shot because I think he’s gonna take a lot of punishment. I think Taylor wins on points.”

“Excellent fight on paper, now remains to be seen if it will be as good in the ring. Both boxers come back from complicated fights but. from my point of view. Taylor offered more stable performances in his last couples of fights. For that reason, I advantage him, even if Lopez boxes at home. Taylor by unanimous decision.”


Final Tally: Taylor 21-0



Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.