We weigh up the credentials of Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez as the pair get set to do battle for the WBO super-lightweight world title at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Their last performances were inadequate but there is still something incredibly special about the prospect of Taylor and Lopez locking horns in New York City this weekend.
Lopez - the underdog at +160 - has continuously called out the Scot (-210) over the last couple of years and throughout that time there has been real intrigue as to what the bout could potentially throw-up.
It’s got a little bit of everything... Personality, tension, bad feeling and two men who on their day are elite pugilists.
We could witness something near the skill level of Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko or a throwback street fight that Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada would admire.
The Madison Square Garden Theatre will produce another boxing memory which can attach itself to the entire venue’s illustrious association with the sport.
The big question though is who will come out on top?
Let’s look at the tale of the tape...
|Josh Taylor (-210)
|Teofimo Lopez (+160)
|The Tartan Tornado
|Teofimo Lopez Sr
|19-0 (13 KOs)
|18-1 (13 KOs)
|WBO super-lightweight champion
|Former IBF, WBO & WBA lightweight champion
|W - (SD) v Jack Catterall (Feb 2022)
|W - (SD) v Sandor Martin (Dec 2022)
The Scotsman has something to prove in the Big Apple this weekend.
After an outstanding run of wins that culminated in becoming the undisputed super-lightweight champion, the manner of his controversial victory over Jack Catterall last time out has somewhat diminished his previous in-ring successes.
That is unfair to a fighter who carved his way through all comers before beating Jose Carlos Ramirez. However, the controversy surrounding that Catterall fight still lingers like a pungent odour which boxing never truly manages to get rid of.
The fallout between both fighters and their fans was toxic. 15 months on, it exists as a memory that remains a focal point whenever talk of the fight is brought up.
Since then, Taylor has become a husband and switched trainers from Ben Davison to Joe McNally. ‘The Tartan Tornado’ looks to be chomping at the bit and on the face of things appears more like the man who became one of the pound-for-pound bests in the sport.
Invigorated and healthy at the weight, Taylor is the best at super-lightweight. Question marks hang over his head, however.
The Edinburgh native would love nothing more than to squash those and remind everyone that he is the Kingpin of the 140lbs division.
|Overreaches with shots
|Inside fighting ability
|Open to body shots
Just like his opponent, Teofimo Lopez also has a point to prove on Saturday night.
The one-time king of the lightweights is a braggart who is either lying to himself or fooling everyone watching.
After dethroning the seemingly unbeatable Vasiliy Lomachenko, the boxing world fell at the feet of Lopez - but that was October 2020, and it's now June 2023.
It could prove to be the win that he needs to dine out on for the rest of his life if he doesn’t recapture the form that thrust him into the spotlight on that iconic Autumnal evening.
Lopez has had three fights since then; a crushing defeat to George Kambosos Jr and wins against Pedro Campa and Sandor Martin.
The latter was unconvincing, and viewers were privy to a conversation post-fight that the 25-year-old had with himself and his team. “Do I still got it?” A question filled with doubt and worry after what he had just produced against Martin.
In the run-up to this weekend's mammoth showdown, Lopez has stated that his now well-documented post-fight self-doubt was purely for the cameras. It’s all good in the world of Teofimo, so he tells us.
At his best, Lopez has speed and power that you wouldn’t go looking for. On Saturday, the New Yorker is either about to press the reset button, proving the Loma win was not a one-off, or the smokescreen will disappear for good!
|Lack of stamina
|Open to body shots