'Fiery' Taylor warned to resist taking Lopez's bait

Josh Taylor’s trainer Joe McNally has warned him to keep his composure when he again comes face to face with Teofimo Lopez in New York.

The WBO super lightweight champion makes the latest defence of his title on Saturday at the theatre at Madison Square Garden, when he will also fight with McNally as his trainer for the first time.

Brooklyn’s Lopez, 25, is among the world’s most provocative fighters – his father Teofimo Sr is similarly outspoken and unpredictable – and, when he and Taylor are reunited at Thursday’s press conference he is almost certain to attempt to get under the temperamental Taylor’s skin. ProBox TV understands that Top Rank have invested in additional security in anticipation of a heated confrontation, and also that the two fighters may not even face off.

The same promotional outfit oversaw last month’s fight between Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko, after which Haney claimed he was fined $400,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for pushing his opponent after they weighed in. Taylor and Lopez will still be in the process of making weight when they are reunited on Thursday, and it was that fine that McNally had in mind when he reminded Taylor of the importance of keeping his cool.

“He can [react],” McNally told ProBox TV. “Josh is a fiery character, but he’s been here before. The old saying is, ‘It’s not his first rodeo’. He’s got a lot of t-shirts.

“Josh is a fiery character but I expect him to keep his cool. I’ve only been at one interview with him with Lopez and Lopez was just ranting and going on, and it’s just a lot of bullshit to be fair. It is what it is. 

“He’s trying to get in his own mind, and he’s going through a lot of trouble also, but, it’s boxing. I just hope that it doesn’t – his father and Lopez don’t carry on. There’s a bit of rigmarole to take away from actually having a fantastic contest on our hands Saturday night. I might have to sit in between Josh and them, really, but it is what it is. It’s boxing. I’m not worried about it.”

McNally is also wary of the risk of the 32-year-old Taylor becoming emotional on the occasion of his first fight at a venue his late uncle William, who died last year, once placed a bet on him headlining when he remained a talented young fighter. His idol Ken Buchanan, who died in April, also enhanced his reputation by fighting in New York.

“He has mentioned [his uncle’s bet],” McNally said. “I don’t really want him to think too much about it ‘cause I want him to have no emotion in this fight. 

“I was here with Liam [Smith] last year at The Garden, chief support to Katie [Taylor, against Amanda Serrano], and as a coach I’m privileged to be here twice in 12 months with one chief support and one headlining the show. His uncle’s predictions have come true, which is magnificent, but I don’t really want too much on him because I want him to stay, emotionally, away from the fight.

“I acknowledged it. ‘Fantastic.’ Which it is – it’s beautiful, the prediction. A bit of Nostradamus there. A lot of people could have predicted it too, ‘cause of the talent he is. 

“It’s everybody’s dream to fight at The Garden; in Las Vegas; the MGM; to top a football ground back home, which for Josh is Hibs’ ground, Easter Road. It’s his dream to fight there too. I think the next one will be back home in Hibs’ football ground.”