The former undisputed world champion now only has the WBO belt in his possession, but there is no lack of motivation to keep it. Taylor was already on a mission to prove his lackluster performance against Catterall – when he was lucky enough to get the judges’ nod – was an isolated case. 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 has fought five times in his career.
But alongside pride and honor, Taylor is now driven by another emotion: blinding rage. A switch is often flipped for the 32-year-old at some point in fight week, but after some rather awkward remarks from Lopez about wanting to kill his opponent in the ring, it was flipped early on.
Maybe it was all just part of the hype machine that accompanies any major competition, but it’s quickly apparent that while Taylor respects the former lightweight world champion’s abilities, he clearly dislikes him as a person.
CONTINUE READING: Josh Taylor tries to silence critics in fight against Teofimo Lopez MSG
“We did a live show called Trash Talk – and I just think his head is all messed up,” says the self-proclaimed Pride of Prestonpans. “I don’t know what to take from it. It can be dangerous or very good for me. He seems mentally deranged, contradicting himself and making silly and bold statements. The guy’s quite a train wreck.
“He’s just boring and talks for the sake of talking. He’s a bit of a tool and a space cadet. I don’t want to spend time with him. Let him come and try to take my life and see who’s the one who ends up in the back of the ambulance. That might be a terrible comment, but let it come and try it. Let him do his best.”
However, there was a grudging respect for an opponent who had proven himself in big fights over the years.
“He’s definitely one of my better opponents,” Taylor added. You are not victorious [Vasiliy] Lomachenko if you’re a crap fighter. However, Lomachenko is a small lightweight. He really is a pompous featherweight and I think he got injured in that fight. But Lopez is a very good fighter, has good skills, is very athletic and looks like he has power in him. He’s among the best.
“But there won’t be many people at this weight who are bigger and stronger than me – or who hit harder than me. I’m definitely one of the top performers in this department, in my weight class. Lopez could be strong, he could even be a bit stronger than me physically. But I can’t think of many people hitting that weight as hard as I do.”
CONTINUE READING: Josh Taylor on Rediscovering His Hunger After Fighting Jack Catterall
Taylor is excited to be fighting in New York for the first time, but admits the competition almost took place much closer to home.
“I’m thrilled to be back in America, boxing in the Mecca of the sport and taking part in a massive fight,” he added. “I can take a travel allowance for myself, my friends and my family. But on Easter Road it was almost time. I spoke to Ben Kensell [the Hibernian chief executive] and he’s insanely keen to have me. But Top Rank was more inclined to go to New York, and I meant definitely.
“I have never boxed at MSG and would love to. Everyone dreams of boxing there. When I box later in the year it will hopefully be at Easter Road or the Castle. But Ben really wants me to be there, so it’s definitely doable.”
Taylor still has other ambitions to fulfill, including moving up to welterweight to try to become a world twoweight champion. But he believes if he were to retire now he would have already secured his place as a Scottish sporting legend.
“We’ll see how that weight reduction goes, but I might have a few more fights ahead of me in light-welter depending on what the fight is,” he added. “I can get a rematch with Catterall or [Regis] Prograis, there’s also Devin Haney, so they’re all big fights. It’s more my personal goals, I want to cement my legacy and bring more honors to my name at 147lbs.
“When I retire tomorrow I would have left the legacy of being the only undisputed world champion from Britain and the first Scottish boxer to do so in the four-belt era and only the fifth in history. But I want to leave an even bigger legacy, make even more history. I want to be one of the best fighters of all time from the UK and Scotland. I will be in the history books long after I die.”