Taylor-Lopez fight week diary: Day Four

Josh Taylor chose to walk the streets of Manhattan back to his hotel in the rain after refusing to take the car that had been ordered to take he and those with him back from Madison Square Garden.

The 32-year-old, no doubt reflecting on what had unfolded at the theatre on the occasion of not only Teofimo Lopez’s finest performance but his first defeat, therefore found himself passing some of his fans.

His evening had started considerably more promisingly, and not just during the opening rounds. The then-WBO super lightweight champion had arrived before Brooklyn’s Lopez, decided he preferred Lopez’s dressing room to his, and therefore that he was going to take it. Lopez, in turn, had little choice but to take the dressing room Taylor had decided against. Whether or not Taylor actually preferred the other dressing room or simply wanted to secure a perceived psychological advantage remains unclear.

Gerry Cooney sat directly behind ProBox TV for much of the Top Rank bill that set a new gate record for the theatre at The Garden after selling all 5,151 tickets. The previous record gate for boxing at the same venue came when Vasyl Lomachenko defeated Jose Pedraza in 2018.

Cooney had predicted victory for Taylor. “Stoppage late on,” he said. “He’s a tough kid. He can hold a shot.[Lopez is] fucked up. He’s got crazy people around him; in his camp. I like Josh Taylor. He was lacklustre in his last fight, so he’s gonna perform to another level tonight.”

The charismatic 66 year old, in encouragingly good condition for a retired heavyweight, drew the attention of those around him shortly before the main event with a loud “Woah” in reaction to a punch taken by Jaime Munguia during his fight with Sergiy Derevyanchenko, which he was watching on a laptop screen. He also spoke of his appreciation of the promising Jared Anderson.

When in the final round of an increasingly one-sided fight Taylor remained on his feet amid significant punishment from Lopez, Cooney could also be heard praising his “bravery”.

For all of his talk of “retirement”, there seemed little reason to take the 25-year-old Lopez’s claims seriously, post-fight. He had started by saying he was going to return to the “drawing board”, which, if he didn’t expect to fight again, he would never have said. Perhaps typically, he talked himself into retirement as he spoke, such was the stream of consciousness that also included a reference to Walter Elias Disney (he, unexpectedly, had Walt Disney branding on the back of his robe, pre-fight). 

It was as difficult not to sympathise with him as he spoke post-fight about his divorce and battle for custody over his child as it was not to admire his outstanding performance. At only 25, he has had to endure so much under such intense scrutiny. It’s little wonder that, though he so often doesn’t help himself, he cut a struggling figure in the build-up to this fight. The greater mystery perhaps surrounds how he can perform so impressively in those circumstances.