This Saturday, the boxing world will witness two very attractive fights, one of them between British southpaw Josh Taylor (19-0-0,13 KO) and Honduran-born American Teofimo Lopez (18-1-0,12 KO), former unified lightweight champion. Taylor defends his WBO super lightweight belt at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. The second fight will feature middleweight puncher Miguel Mungia of Tijuana and the veteran Ukrainian Sergiy Derevyanchenko, in a 10-round non-title bout at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.
Taylor was the 140 lbs. champion of the four major universal boxing sanctioning bodies, who for personal reasons relinquished the WBA, IBF and WBC crowns. Lopez, the first Honduran-born boxer to be world champion, held the WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight titles, which he won with an unexpected victory over Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko on October 17 three years ago and lost them in his initial defense against Australian George Kambosos in his own backyard in New York on November 27 last year, with 112-115, 111-115 and 114-113 scorecards.
The MSG fight will put in the ring two fighters of great technical ability, great mobility on the ring, amazing hand speed and precision in the punches, which makes it difficult to predict the possible outcome. However, as of last week, the 36-year-old Scottish-born Brit, who is known for his feline lateral movements and a counter puncher with a fast left jab that often baffles and attacks the enemy, had the odds in his favor at 61% vs. 39% and -180 to +140, respectively, on the wins.
Taylor has not stepped into the ring since February 26, 2022 when he scored a controversial 112-113,114-111 and 113-112 decision over his fellow countryman Jack Catteral in Glasgow. Lopez, who has recently faced some personal issues that could affect his performance and that could be the reason why the favoritism is against him, will have on his side the support of the audience in a show promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank, which has a capacity of just over 6,000 people.
“The Takeover”, as Lopez is nicknamed, after his surprising loss to Kambosos, reappeared with an unremarkable victory against Mexican Pedro Campa, whom he dispatched in the seventh, in August 2022, and 4 months later he defeated Catalan Sandor Martin by 94-95, 96-93 and 97-92.
We think this will be a fight of continuous action, of alternatives, in which there is no clear winner. Lopez is liked by dozens, much less than JT, but his option of victory will depend especially on his state of mind, on how he faces the commitment from the boxing angle, but even more internally.
The other card on Saturday, in Ontario, California, leaves very little room for comments. Everything points in favor of the fearsome puncher from Tijuana, Baja California, Jaime Mungia, 26 years old, with 10 years of professional activity, winner by KO in 33 of 41 performances, former WBO middleweight champion.
Despite his impressive record, Mungia has not had access to more demanding fights, even though he has been mentioned on several occasions as a possible opponent for aces like “Canelo” Alvarez. Gennady Golovkin and Dmitri Bivol, without being able to arrange a fight with any of them despite the attempts of his promoter, Bob Arum.
Mungia, aka Apolo Creed is trained by his countryman, the famous and remembered Erik “El Terrible” Morales, currently a congressman for Tijuana, the first Mexican four-time world champion in super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight and winner of 16 of the 19 world champions he faced. He will face the 37-year-old Ukrainian Derevyanchenko, who has lost 4 of his last 6 fights by points against the likes of Daniel Jacobs, Golovkin and Jermall Charlo, who is not supposed to be a more dangerous opponent for the Aztec, however, he has the merit of not having been knocked out in his 14 fights, with 10 knockouts to his credit. Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions event will take place in a venue with a capacity of 11,000 attendees.