THIS weekend we’re getting an excellent super-lightweight clash between Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez. It’s a fight that will involve a lot of skill, a lot of heart and probably a lot of drama: everything a boxing fan wants in a big match-up. But the event has been marred by what has been said in the weeks leading up to it, mainly by Lopez.
Notoriously outspoken, the 25-year-old has faced backlash in recent months after explicitly stating how he would like to take someone’s life in a boxing ring. And in another ill-advised interview with obscure YouTube channel Punsh Drunk Boxing, Lopez doubled down on those comments.
“I said it like it is, I wanna kill Josh Taylor,” he said. “When I fought Vasyl Lomachenko, I took his heart. Taylor’s got no heart, so what can I really take from this man? His life.
“The only way I can make a statement is by doing that. I’m not sorry about that. How do I scare people more than ever? Take a man’s life.”
Those are abhorrent things to say. And it doesn’t seem as though Lopez is merely just trying to play the villain, either. We often see fighters intentionally aggravate fans and say things beyond the pale in order to elicit an emotional response and make people invested in their fights, usually in the hopes of seeing them lose. It’s a tactic that Floyd Mayweather perfected.
But watching this interview with Lopez, he doesn’t appear to be putting on an act. He, at least, believes that he must take an opponent’s life in order to impress and keep himself relevant. That is a dangerous level of delusion.
This interview was released roughly a week and a half before Lopez is set to headline at Madison Square Garden, an iconic boxing venue. It puts the organisers of the card (Top Rank and ESPN) in an awkward position, because they won’t pull Lopez from the event despite his comments.
The question isn’t just about whether or not he should be allowed to proceed with the fight, but also whether Lopez needs help and support. He has spoken in the past about his mental health struggles and in this same interview with Punsh Drunk Boxing, he detailed how he is currently going through divorce proceedings with his wife, who is apparently denying him access to their son.
Lopez insists that the divorce is a good thing and has made him happier, but one has to wonder what sort of toll it’s been taking on him, particularly if it puts a strain on his relationship with his son.
All this is to say that there should be some sort of duty of care when it comes to fighters acting erratically and talking about how they want to kill their next opponent. It doesn’t matter if it’s just hot air: someone should step in and make sure that person is in a sound state of mind to take part in a professional boxing fight.
For his part, Taylor handled Lopez’ comments well. He didn’t rise to them and instead just referred to Lopez as a “tool.” He even walked away from some pre-fight shared media questions because he couldn’t put up with Teo’s bluster – that’s a mature decision.
This column doesn’t usually focus on social media because, let’s face it, there’s just far too much noise there. But sometimes someone within the boxing world does something so jaw-droppingly idiotic that we have to highlight it.
First, some context. Gervonta Davis was recently sentenced to 90 days of house arrest after pleading guilty last month to four counts stemming from a November 2020 crash that injured four people, including a pregnant woman. Last week, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Althea Handy, who presided over Davis’s case, ordered Gervonta to serve the rest of his sentence behind bars after he breached the terms of his house arrest. According to a report from ESPN, Davis – instead of remaining at the address his legal team provided during the sentencing hearing, which belongs to his trainer Calvin Ford – moved into a luxury hotel and then a multi-million dollar home. These moves were not authorised by Handy, who subsequently sentenced Davis to spend the next couple of months in jail.
It gets worse for him. He then posted to his Instagram Story a recorded video of him speaking on the phone from prison. Still showing no remorse for the hit-and-run he admitted guilt over, Davis played the victim card.
“This judge is crazy,” he said.
“This judge is… they seen [sic] I bought a property. I did everything in my power to listen to my lawyers. I listened to everyone to a tee. She’s mad that I bought a property. That’s why I’m sitting in jail.
“She wanted me to be in an apartment, a one-[bedroom] apartment. I couldn’t take that. She wanted me to stay in a one-[bedroom] apartment where I couldn’t have my kids or nothing [sic].
“I wanted to shed some light on this situation. She’s taking advantage of me and she’s doing stuff that’s not right to me. I just had to shed light on this situation.”
If he still cannot see how he has done wrong and why he is now – if only temporarily – behind bars, then there isn’t much hope for him.
Dan Rafael revealed that Claressa Shields’ dominant win over Maricela Cornejo drew 11, 784 fans to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. This proves that Shields, who hails from nearby Flint, can clearly draw a crowd and has developed a fervent fanbase in her home state of Michigan. It’s also a huge win for women’s boxing.
Boxing on the Box
Mark Chamberlain-Marvin Demollari
BT Sport 1
Coverage begins at 7pm
Connor Butler-Matt Windle
FIGHTZONE & BBC iPlayer
Coverage begins at 8pm
Sunny Edwards-Andres Campos
Coverage begins at 7pm
Josh Taylor-Teofimo Lopez
Sky Sports Action
Coverage begins at 1am
Jaime Munguia-Sergey Derevyanchenko
Coverage begins at 1am