Bullish Josh Taylor has warned title challenger Teofimo Lopez he will be at the peak of his powers on Saturday night as he bids to reign at Madison Square Garden.
The 32-year-old Scot will take to the ring for the first time since his contentious victory, via a split decision, over England’s Jack Catterall in February 2022.
Taylor knows he was not at his best that night in Glasgow almost 16 months ago, but he is adamant he will be firing on all cylinders as he goes head to head with 25-year-old Brooklyn boxer Lopez in their WBO super-lightweight title showdown in New York.
“We could both go on our previous performances and say ‘you’re only as good as your last fight’ but I believe that’s a lot of s***,” said Taylor.
“I prepared crap for the last fight so I performed crap. I believe he was the same (when winning by a split decision against Sandor Martin last December). He took his eye off the ball and he performed crap as well.
“We’ve both got the bit between our teeth here. He’s up against the king of the division. I know he’s a good fighter. The version that beat (Vasyl) Lomachenko (in October 2020) is a very good fighter and that’s the version I’m preparing for.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 9, 2023
“It’s all about your preparation. This time I’ve prepared diligently and to the best of my ability, and you’ll see the best of me on Saturday night.”
Taylor admits he is living out a childhood dream in topping the bill at the Garden.
“I’ve been here 10-12 days now,” he said of his preparations in New York. “I came over nice and early to get used to the heat.
“I was expecting the heat but it’s not been so hot. It’s been OK for me being Scottish, used to the cold weather, so I haven’t had to adjust too much.
“I’m excited to be here. To be involved in a big fight and the main event like this, doing the Empire State Building and stuff like that, it’s really cool.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 6, 2023
“This is a dream come true. Starting out as a young kid, you always dream of coming stateside and fighting in venues like this.
“This is the ‘Mecca of Boxing’, Madison Square Garden. Fighting in a place like this, topping the bill, bringing the travelling fans – the Tartan Army – over as well, so I can’t wait to get in there to make this dream become a reality.
“This clown here (Lopez) is in my way but he’s another piece of cannon fodder, that’s all he is.”
The fight is due to begin around 3am BST on Sunday.