Nearly 14 months after contesting the most controversial fight in recent British boxing history, Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall have plotted their next move. What is most surprising is that these next moves do not involve each other. After putting their careers on hold to try and deliver a rematch that seemed inevitable, the two top super lightweights in Britain will now walk separate paths.
It was announced over the weekend that Taylor will defend his WBO and The Ring super lightweight crowns against former unified lightweight boss Teofimo Lopez. By any measure this is a tremendous fight. Perhaps one of the few Taylor could have feasibly taken that would invalidate the “it should have been Jack” jibes. Those digs are still coming his way of course, but it hard to argue that a bout with a fighter as naturally gifted as Lopez is in any way the product of “ducking”.
The court of public opinion has been kind to Catterall throughout this whole affair. The vast majority of fight fans thought he did enough to beat Taylor when a split decision verdict was given against him. But the way the result has defined his career since that fateful night in Glasgow has not been helpful for his legacy. Nobody remembers an uncrowned champion when their career is over. The 29-year-old from Chorley needs to get his act together and start proving his credentials in the ring, rather than in the public discourse.
After having a pair of ring returns pulled under the Boxxer banner, one a result of a Taylor injury and the other against an unnamed opponent, Catterall has switched stables. The 27-1 star will be gloving up for Matchroom, with his promotional debut set for Manchester Arena on 27th May. While a hometown fight in front of an arena crowd has all the makings of a great occasion, the choice of opponent leaves a lot to be desired.
While Taylor is navigating away from ‘El Gato’ and into a pay-per-view worthy collision, Catterall meets 22-4-1 Darragh Foley in his comeback. In an ideal world, Jack’s first fight in a year would have been used to remind people of his world class credentials. To emphasise that it should have been him, not Teofimo Lopez, getting a shot at Taylor. With all due respect to Foley, all evidence suggests he will offer little resistance here. Catterall getting some rounds in with an opponent who is there to get knocked over is hardly going to increase the clamour for a second go-round with Taylor.
If ‘The Tartan Tornado’ beats Lopez, there is a risk that a chasm will open up between him and Catterall. Taylor will be fresh off a victory over a recent pound-for-pounder. Catterall will, at best, have beaten a domestic level competitor. As the controversial ending to their first meeting fades into memory, will anyone really still be chomping at the bit for Taylor/Catterall II?
There is an argument that both fighters would be better off without each other at this point. Neither man has fought since their February 2022 meeting. In that time, Taylor has been stripped of three of the four belts that made up his undisputed super lightweight title. Catterall has seen fights come and go. Meanwhile, the two have only ever been in the news in a context that involved the other. They have not been allowed to exist as individuals. They are Taylor and Catterall, a perverse double act. Like if Ant & Dec stopped producing gentle light entertainment and started punching each other.
Now is the time for them to step out as individuals. No more inextricable link. Taylor is already pursuing bigger and better things. For Catterall’s sake, it is to be hoped a routine win over Foley can be parlayed into the world title shot he deserves. That needn’t necessarily be against his old rival Taylor. The Scotsman’s other title belts have been scattered to the wind now. Catterall facing WBC champion Regis Prograis, the promotional free agent spotted with Eddie Hearn over the weekend, could be a logical foe. WBA boss Alberto Puello or IBF kingpin Subriel Matias would work too. There are many paths to success for Taylor and Catterall. For the first time in a year, those paths don’t have to go through each other.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change