Josh Taylor meets Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden. -the atmosphere of a fight, but the Scot's experience in the most important fight of his career was more than exhausted because his opponent wants to kill him.
From accusations of “spying in the gym” to countless statements about wanting to end life , Brooklyn's Teofimo Lopez didn't hold back ahead of his WBO welterweight title fight at Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple on Saturday night.
But, despite the fact that after endless weeks of trash talk into microphones, Taylor makes it her mission to make the American “pay for his words” in the ring.
“For me, the fights are here in New York , was a memorable moment for me,” Taylor, 32, who looked like a razor in training, extremely lean and ready to fight, told Telegraph Sport yesterday. Taylor needs to be in better shape as he ended a 16-month absence from the ring after defending his belts in a controversial fight against Jack Catterall last year.
But the biggest and ugliest talking point all week was that Lopez was outspoken about wanting to “kill” Taylor in the ring. “I said it like it is… I want to kill Josh Taylor,” Lopez said in an interview on the podcast last month. It wasn't the first time he'd said it either. In a video call between the couple for the television program Trash Talk a week earlier, in which I was interviewed, Lopez made it clear that he wanted to end Taylor's life.
At Thursday's press conference, Lopez was back in business. “People say, ‘Get back into boxing. Well… that's boxing. That's what we sign up for,” Lopez said. Lopez first quoted former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and then repeated his references to fatal injuries. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, hello to Mike Tyson,” Lopez said. “I have my own quote – I just came up with it yesterday. It says: “Strive for death, for life begins there.”
Taylor looked stunned and simply replied “no comment” at the press conference. Speaking to Telegraph Sport, Taylor laid out his take on the nasty comments. “All this talk gives me more fire in my stomach, more desire to give him a real job, a real glue and really hurt him. I feel like I'm going to knock him out or retire him.
“It really motivates me to hurt him and punish him for what he said. I don't really need motivation for this fight, but when he says things like that, it gives you a little more. He will pay for those words.”
Josh Taylor knows he will enter the hostile arena in the Garden. Credit: Getty Images/Mikey William
Taylor himself has an alter ego – a character known as “Hank” – who materializes just days before he enters the ring and rages at his opponent. “Hank” made a brief appearance at the press conference. Taylor exchanged words with Lopez as they prepared for a photo opportunity, but Taylor found himself held back by an NYPD cop who was urged to maintain decorum during the proceedings.
“Look. “I wouldn't touch Lopez because I wouldn't want a $500,000 fine,” Taylor explained. “But I got close enough to see his eyes and that he has nerves. I enjoy the first call and stop all talk.”
Taylor is keen to dedicate his talk to the late great Ken Buchanan, a childhood hero of a boxer from Prestonpans, near Buchanan's birthplace. Buchanan passed away last month. Taylor, the first Scot to win the undisputed title since Buchanan 50 years ago, will make his debut at Madison Square Garden, where Buchanan has fought five times, the most memorable of which was the defeat of Ismael Laguna in 1971.
“It's considered the Mecca of boxing and it's a big moment in my career,” Taylor explained. “I won the undisputed title in Las Vegas and compete in big events away from home, just like Ken did. Now I'm going back to Madison Square Garden where he won most of his big fights so when I win I'll tell my grandkids about it – following in the footsteps of one of Scotland's greatest fights.” Taylor's shorts will be a tribute to Buchanan tonight. “I did it because I couldn't attend his funeral and I wanted to pay my respects to him. He's been an inspiration to me since I was a boy.”
Taylor, acclimatizing in Manhattan for the past two weeks, hosted a secret camp with astute trainer Joe McNally at the gym used in New York. York. , no visitors. “Lopez is from Brooklyn, so we didn’t do camera interviews there. It's one of those things when you don't trust anyone. They were very accommodating, welcomed us with open arms, but we just don't trust anyone and keep our doors closed.”
“Everything is going according to plan. This is a very proud moment for me and a very special moment for me. I'm getting ready for the guy who beat [Vasily] Lomachenko, the best version of Lopez, but my plan is to win, and if possible, stop him and put him on a stool, ”
Taylor told me with a steely look. “I'm in the Lion's Den. I know it. It's basically Lopez's backyard, but I'll kick his ass, put his tail between his legs, and send him home to think again.”