Josh Taylor plans to ‘punish’ Teofimo Lopez for death threat: ‘I won’t be taking that lightly on Saturday night’

Josh Taylor plans to make Teofimo Lopez pay for his unseemly words.

On Saturday, Taylor is set to defend his WBO junior welterweight title against Lopez at Madison Square Garden. It’s a major fight in the boxing landscape, one made all the bigger by controversial statements from Lopez, in which he said he wants to kill Taylor when they meet in the ring — statements he later doubled down on.

It’s a brazen statement in a sport as dangerous as boxing, where roughly 13 fighters die each year, and while Taylor says he’s not taking it to heart, he does intend to make Lopez eat his words.

“I don’t know him as a human being, to be honest, and I don’t know how much of it’s just a front and how much of it is just him talking nonsense,” Taylor told The MMA Hour. I think he’s all over the place. I think he’s just a bit of a clown, doesn’t know where he is, a bit of a lost soul, to be honest. I’ve not got any feelings toward him, it’s just business. I’ll be looking to go in there on Saturday and inflict some serious damage and some pain on him. Especially because of some words that have been said, ‘come and take my life,’ and all that kind of stuff. I won’t be taking that lightly on Saturday night. I’ll be looking to punish him for it.”

The 32-year-old Taylor is undefeated in his boxing career and previously held the undisputed junior welterweight championship, but he’s been out of action for over a year since winning a controversial split decision over Jack Catterall in February of 2022. That decision, plus his extended layoff, led to some backlash among boxing fans, who questioned Taylor’s spot atop the 140-pound weight class.

On Saturday, he has a point to prove.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. Just on Saturday night [I plan to have] a good performance and say, ‘I told you so — I’m the No. 1 [fighter],’” Taylor said. “I’ve had one bad performance in 10 years and then all of a sudden I’m nothing, I’m worthless, I’m past it. We’ll see on Saturday. The way I’ve been performing in the gym, things I’ve been doing in sparring and stuff, this guy won’t last eight rounds. Six to eight rounds.

“It will be an early night if I come out and perform the way I’ve been performing in the gym. If I don’t, then I will have no excuses, because I’ve had an absolutely awesome training camp. I’m in the best shape of my life and my career, both mentally and physically. So if I come on Saturday and I don’t do well, that’s all on me.”

And if he does do well? Taylor doesn’t seem all that focused on regaining undisputed status in the junior welterweight division.

The Scottish fighter is open to a few marquee matchups in the weight class, but otherwise, he’s going to make the jump up to welterweight and pursue a second title.

“At 140, there’s still big fights. I’ve got the rematch with Regis Prograis, I’ve got the rematch with Jack Catterall, I’ve got Devin Haney possibly coming up, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta [Davis] possibly coming up as well,” Taylor said. “These are all big fights, and if they’re right for me at the time, I’ll take them. But obviously, I’ve got personal ambitions in the game to become a two-weight world champion as well. It’s imminent that I’m going to be moving to 147 at some point, and chasing to become a two-weight world champion.

“We’ll wait to see what happens after this fight, what offers come my way and if I feel it’s right for me at the time. We’ll make the decision after we sit down with my team and see what offers are on the table.”