Taylor-Lopez Fight Week Diary: day three

If the adage “a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter” is true then Teofimo Lopez is at risk of confronting the most dangerous Josh Taylor seen for a considerable amount of time.

It was in May 2021, against Jose Carlos Ramirez at the Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, when Taylor last excelled. Since then, he has fought only Jack Catterall on an occasion when he was fortunate to emerge with a split-decision victory, sacrificed three of the four world titles he worked so hard for, suffered a foot injury that forced him to withdraw from the rematch with Catterall that was scheduled, been conflicted over remaining at 140lbs or moving up to 147lbs, replaced then-trainer Ben Davison with Joe McNally, and experienced the death of his idol Ken Buchanan.

On Wednesday at his hotel minutes from Madison Square Garden, however – and likely largely because it is the theatre at The Garden he is fighting at – the often temperamental fighter could barely have seemed more content. He revisited his relationship with Buchanan, who died in April, and the tales Buchanan told him of fighting at The Garden with, among others, the great Roberto Duran and of sharing a dressing room with Muhammad Ali. He spoke of the bet his late uncle placed on him to headline at the same venue, when Taylor was a promising young fighter years from his peak. Perhaps even more crucially, he also discussed the future he sees for himself at 140lbs – where he is so proven – having long considered the prospect of moving up to welterweight.

Four days before what is expected to prove one of his defining fights – Brooklyn’s Lopez is a dangerous, if apparently never happy, opponent – that he looks healthy and on course to make weight is likely the most important thing of all. If he was struggling to return to the 140lbs limit then his short temper would unquestionably be being tested. It would also in no way help that the smoke from the forest fires in Quebec reaching New York are polluting the air to the extent they are.

ProBox TV cannot recall seeing as many people wearing face masks at the height of the Covid pandemic as there were on Wednesday on the streets of Manhattan. The scenes brought to mind those that concerned observers of Beijing in the build-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, and of Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11; one local even told ProBox TV that it was after 9/11, when the debris was falling from the sky, that the city last looked this bad. In short, if Taylor was having to run to make weight – one of his team members insists that he needn’t do so – he would only not regret having to do so at the time, but potentially continue to do so come fight night.

The two fighters will again be in the same room at Thursday’s press conference, when it seems so likely that the provocative Lopez will attempt to provoke Taylor that Top Rank are said to have spent an additional $5,000 on security in an attempt to prevent a heated confrontation that could jeopardise so appealing a fight. They are also said to be considering not staging a face-off between them; according to one rumour Lopez’s father, Teofimo Sr, even threatened staff at broadcasters ESPN when a previous interview was taking place.