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Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall 2: A fight two years in the making

It's the rematch boxing fans have longed for since that hugely controversial 2022 showdown; and finally a deal has been agreed - Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall will lock-horns for a second time in May; here's the story behind their fierce rivalry.

Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall 2

Beef... it appears every fight now requires it to capture the imagination of the general public.

It's hardly surprising in an age where people have an endless stream of content available at their fingertips, at any time of day, in any location.

To halt the scrolling thumb, a headline, quote or image must be able to pique one’s interest. Two men who are set to trade punches for up to 36 minutes, who harbour a deep animosity for each other seems to have the desired effect.

However, it often comes across as manufactured, more akin to a meat substitute; it may look authentic, but it’s just not the real thing. That is not the case when it comes to Jack Catterall and Josh Taylor. The ill-feeling is genuine.

For two years, both fighters have traded insults on social media and the vitriol continued when they came face-to-face in a two-city press recently, ahead of their 25th May clash, at the First Direct Arena, Leeds.

The bad blood stems from their first encounter, back in 2022.

At the time, Taylor (19-1, 13 KOs) was the undisputed super-lightweight champion; having won the World Boxing Super Series, before unifying all four belts against Jose Ramirez.

Ahead of their first meeting, Catterall (28-1, 13 KOs) was the WBO mandatory challenger, but had not been tested against elite level opposition and was a sizeable underdog.

During fight-week, things became acrimonious between the pair. The Scot often becomes hot-headed as he approaches a bout and grabbed his rival by the throat at the weigh-in.

When they finally met at Glasgow’s Hydro Arena, the fight was anything but a classic. ‘El Gato’ is a master of dictating tempo, and that speed is often a slow one.

In the early stages, the champion had little answer for the Chorley native’s crisp counters. The troubles of ‘The Tartan Tornado’ were compounded in the eighth round when he was sent to the canvas.

The closing stages were a messy affair as both men had points deducted as Catterall attempted to preserve his lead with persistent clinching, while Taylor sought to retain his belts by force of will, opposed to skill; resorting to blows to the back of the head.

Many observers believed the challenger had done enough, but two out of the three judges disagreed. Catterall was bewildered by the result and there was an outpouring of disbelief from fans.

The outcome was so contentious that the British Boxing Board of Control lodged an investigating into the judging and ultimately downgraded Ian John-Lewis, who scored the bout 114-111 in favour of Taylor, from Star Class to A Class.

As mandatory defences piled up, the Edinburgh fighter relinquished three of his straps, retaining just the WBO.

A rematch was agreed to take place in March of last year, but the fight fell through when Taylor tore the planter fascia tendon in his heel in the build-up.

The second clash was then abandoned all together when the sanctioning body ordered the Scotsman to face Teofimo Lopez. The American brought Taylor’s reign to an end with a comprehensive decision victory.

At long last, a date of Saturday 27th April was inked in at the turn of 2024, but even then, the brakes were slammed on when news broke that Taylor had been advised to move the fight back as a consequence of an eye issue.

Thankfully, less than a few hours after the bout being postponed, a new date of 25th May was set, meaning fight fans have just an additional few weeks to wait to witness the pair settle their differences once and for all.

Despite the mutual dislike, there is no denying the rematch has lost some lustre.

There are no titles at stake, the former champion has fought once in the intervening years and was soundly beaten, while ‘El Gato’ has notched two wins, but did not set pulses racing and their styles simply did not gel well the first time.

More often than not, British grudge matches land on Pay-Per-View, but despite, promoter, Eddie Hearn’s best efforts to find a broadcaster willing to show the fight on PPV, he was unable to do so.

Given that networks and streaming platforms are eager to stick any bout which will sell onto a Box Office platform, their refusal to do so is a damning reflection on the value of this clash.

However, that does not mean the match-up is insignificant: Catterall seeks retribution, while Taylor aims to prove he is still the best 140lbs fighter in Britain.

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