Josh Taylor thinks Teofimo Lopez deserved his career-changing victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko.
The undefeated, former fully unified junior welterweight champion nevertheless questioned the amount of credit Lopez received for beating an opponent Taylor deemed physically impaired and too small for the lightweight division. Taylor told Lopez that their fight Saturday night won’t at all resemble his 12-round battle with Lomachenko in “Trash Talk: Taylor Vs. Lopez,” a 30-minute promotional program which premiered Saturday on ESPN2.
“Yes, I give him credit – he beat Lomachenko,” Taylor said. “But in my opinion, Lomachenko’s a featherweight with one arm. I’m a full-fledged light welterweight. And when he comes up against me, he comes unstuck and goes out on his back, on a stretcher.”
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs), who began his professional career as a featherweight nearly 10 years ago, is 7-2 in lightweight bouts since he moved up from the junior lightweight division early in 2018. Even Lomachenko considers himself small for the 135-pound division, but the highly skilled southpaw is generally regarded as one of the best boxers of this generation.
Except for one fight, Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) has boxed at or near the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds since he made his pro debut in July 2015. Brooklyn’s Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) will partake in his third straight bout in the junior welterweight division Saturday night since he lost his lightweight titles to George Kambosos Jr. by split decision in November 2021.
Taylor, 32, and Lopez, 25, will meet in a 12-round main event ESPN will televise from The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, the same venue where Lopez lost to Kambosos 18 months ago. Lopez is the mandatory challenger for Taylor’s WBO junior welterweight title, the only belt Taylor didn’t relinquish after becoming his division’s second undisputed champion of the four-belt era two years ago.
Lopez, though talented and still young, hasn’t looked like the same fighter who defeated the favored Lomachenko by unanimous decision in their 12-round, 135-pound championship match in October 2020 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The former IBF, WBA, WBC franchise and WBO lightweight champion got off to a strong start against Lomachenko, withstood Lomachenko’s comeback during the second half of their bout and won comfortably on the scorecards of judges Tim Cheatham (116-112), Julie Lederman (119-109) and Steve Weisfeld (117-111).
Lomachenko later revealed that he suffered a shoulder injury while training for the Lopez bout, which was why Taylor called the three-division champion “a featherweight with one arm.” The damage to Lomachenko’s right shoulder required surgery a few days after he lost to Lopez.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.