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‘Let him try to take my life... we’ll see who ends up in an ambulance’

Taylor unfazed by Lopez trash talk ahead of New York bout


JOSH TAYLOR admits with hindsight that he couldn’t get himself sufficient­ly roused to take on Jack Catterall last year. The Scot is evidently having no problem doing the same ahead of this weekend’s world title clash with Teofimo Lopez at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The former undisputed world champion now only has the WBO belt left in his possession but motivation is in no short supply when it comes to hanging on to it. Taylor was already on a mission to prove that his lacklustre showing against Catterall – when he was fortunate to get the nod from the judges – was a one-off. There was also a desire to pay a fitting tribute to his hero Ken Buchanan, who sadly passed away in April, at a venue where the former undisputed lightweigh­t champion fought five times in his career.

Alongside pride and honour, however, Taylor is now also driven by another emotion: blinding fury. A switch tends to flick in the 32-year-old at some point during fight week but it has gone off early ahead of this one after some fairly distastefu­l comments from Lopez about wanting to kill his opponent in the ring.

Maybe it was all just part of the hype machine that accompanie­s every major contest but it soon becomes apparent that Taylor may respect the former lightweigh­t world champion’s abilities but he clearly doesn’t like him as a person.

“We did a live show called Trash Talk – and I just think his head is all over the place,” says the selfstyled Pride of Prestonpan­s. “I don’t know what to take from that. It can be dangerous or very

good for me. He seems to be all over the place mentally, contradict­ing himself, making stupid and bold statements. The guy’s a bit of a trainwreck.

“He’s just boring and talks for the sake of talking. He’s a bit of a tool and a space cadet. I can’t be bothered spending time with him. Let him come and try to take my life and let’s see who’s the one that ends up in the back of an ambulance. That might be a horrible comment back but let him come and try. Let him take his best shot.”

There was, however, grudging respect for an opponent who has proven himself in big fights over the years.

“He’s definitely one of my better opponents,” added Taylor. You’re not victorious over [Vasiliy] Lomachenko if you’re a crap fighter. Having said that, Lomachenko is a small lightweigh­t. He’s really a blown up featherwei­ght and I believe he was injured in that fight. But Lopez is a very good fighter, has a good skillset, is very athletic and looks as if he carries power. He’s up there with the best.

“But there won’t be many people at this weight who are bigger and stronger than me – or who punch any harder than me. I’m definitely one of the top tier in that department, in my weight class. Lopez might be strong, he might even be a bit stronger than me in terms of physicalit­y. But punching power, I can’t see many people punching as hard as me at this weight.”

Taylor is enthused to be fighting in New York for the first time but admits the contest almost took place a lot closer to home,

“I’m just massively excited to be in America again, boxing at the mecca of the sport and being in a huge fight,” he added. “I can take a travelling support with me, my friends and my family. But it was very close to happening at Easter

Road. I had chats with Ben Kensell [the Hibernian chief executive] and he’s dead keen to have me. But Top Rank were more leaning towards going to New York and I was like ‘absolutely’.

“I’ve never boxed at MSG and I’d love to. Everyone dreams of boxing there. If I box later on in the year then hopefully that can be at Easter Road or the Castle. But Ben’s dead keen to have me at the ground so it’s definitely doable.”

Taylor still has other ambitions to fulfil including stepping up to welterweig­ht to try to become a two-weight world champion. But he believes if he were to retire now he’ll have already sealed his place as a Scottish sporting legend.

“We’ll see how this weight cut goes but I could have another couple of fights in me at light-welter, depending on which fight it is,” he added. “I can get a rematch with Catterall or [Regis] Prograis, plus there’s Devin Haney coming up too so they’re all big fights. It’s more my personal goals, I want to cement my legacy and add more accolades to my name at 147lbs.

“If I retire tomorrow I’d have left the legacy of being the only undisputed world champion from the UK and the first Scottish boxer to do it in the four-belt era and only the fifth in history. But I want to leave an even bigger legacy, create even more history. I want to become one of the best fighters ever from the UK and Scotland. Long after I’m gone I’ll be in the history books.”

He’s just boring and talks for the sake of talking. He’s a bit of a tool and a space cadet. I can’t be bothered spending time with him

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 ?? ?? Josh Taylor in training ahead of his showdown with Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden this week
Josh Taylor in training ahead of his showdown with Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden this week

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