Josh Taylor has a 19-fight winning record
Teofimo Lopes brings an 18-1-0 card
Tornado won his last two on points
Josh Taylor v Teofimo Lopes
Sunday, 03:00, Live on Sky Sports
Taylor finally returns
Scotland's world champion Josh Taylor returns to the ring on Saturday when fighting Teofimo Lopes at Madison Square Garden, New York. The WBO world super lightweight title and Josh's reputation following a below-par performance last time are on the line.
The unbeaten fighter from Edinburgh was awarded a controversial split decision win over Jack Catterall last time, with any hopes of the rematch seemingly ignored for now. Taylor can't afford to dwell on the past; he must be at his best to defeat Brooklyn-born fighter Lopes.
The Scot dodged a bullet last time
Taylor's win over Catterall left a bad taste in the mouth of many fight fans, especially those connected to the Chorley fighter who was treated harshly by the scoring judges in Glasgow last February.
Team Catterall demanded an instant rematch, but it wasn't forthcoming, and it remains to be seen if Josh gives Jack a shot at redemption.
Taylor's split decision win caused an uproar, but many followers who took the time to re-watch that bout agreed it wasn't the robbery some would have you believe. Taylor was the champion defending in his home nation against a challenger who sought to spoil and make the fight ugly from the first bell.
It's challenging to say Taylor won that night in Glasgow, but it's just as difficult to make a strong case for Jack doing enough to take the belt from his opponent. Hopefully, the rematch goes ahead.
Josh's record now stands at 19 wins from as many outings, with 13 of those victories coming inside the distance. Despite boasting a near 70% knockout ratio, each of Taylor's last two fights has been settled on points.
Taylor is 1.625/8 on the Betfair Exchange to win this contest, or backers can try another points verdict at 2.89/5, a bet that makes more sense than the KO/TKO at 3.3512/5.
Lopes is planning a takeover
New York-born fighter Lopes is now fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, but that won't dilute his following at Madison Square Garden this weekend.
The locals will turn out in force, joined by a few visitors from Scotland to pack the arena, and we're expecting Teofimo will enjoy the lion's share of support from the stands. The crowd will aim to drive him to victory against the talented Scotsman, but their favourite will be on his own when the bell rings.
Lopes brings a professional record of 18 wins against one defeat, with the slight blot on his copybook inflicted by George Kambosos Jr at this venue in November 2021. That was another hotly disputed split decision from the judges, with one scoring the fight to Lopes by a round while the other two saw it for Kambosos by three and four rounds.
Since that loss, Teofimo has boxed twice, beating Pedro Campa in round seven before edging a split decision against Sandor Martin.
Lopes is a fighter on form and is here on merit. But he must be at his best to defeat the Scotsman and ensure he returns home to Edinburgh empty-handed. That's easier said than done, but the pre-fight odds show bettors aren't rushing to write off the 25-year-old known as The Takeover.
Lopes to win trades at 2.915/8, or you can check out the value in the method of victory markets. Lopes by KO/TKO is 5.69/2, while a points win prediction gives backers a crack at 5.04/1.
Expect drama in New York
Taylor may be from Edinburgh, but this isn't his first visit Stateside. The young and unbeaten Scotsman has already beaten Jose Carlos Ramirez and Alfonso Olvera in Vegas. He'll have a job on his hands winning over the crowd and judges in the US, but he has the skills and speed to do just that.
Taylor is never in a boring fight. He has all the talent in the world, but there's also a nastiness to his work, and he has the tools to hurt Lopes at any stage of the bout.
I expect a tentative start but am happy to back Taylor to win on points again, showing improvement on his last performance against Catterall.