Josh Taylor says he is sticking around at light welterweight for two reasons – to fight Jose Zepeda and to renew rivalry with Jack Catterall, the latter of whom he has vowed to “shut up” if he gets the rematch he wants.

The aggrieved Catterall has been vocal on social media amid his pursuit of a second contest since controversially coming off second best on the judges’ scorecards when the pair met in Glasgow back in February, when all four major super-lightweight titles were on the line.

Taylor was awarded a split decision victory to retain his undisputed championship despite being knocked down in the eighth and seemingly out-landed during what he admitted was an underwhelming performance, with judge Ian John-Lewis subsequently downgraded by the British Boxing Board of Control in light of scoring the bout 114-111 to the Scot.

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Taylor has since defended the result, and while understanding of Catterall’s disappointment says his rival’s reaction has fuelled his motivation should the two clash again.

“He’s coming across a little bit desperate,” Taylor told Sky Sports. “I can understand where he comes from, he felt like he won the fight, I’d be disappointed as well.

“But I wouldn’t be moaning and groaning the way he’s going on and on, it’s just ridiculous.

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Extended highlights of Taylor’s controversial split decision victory over Catterall

“I can understand how he’s feeling, he felt like he won the fight, I felt like I did just enough to win the fight so it was a close fight, it could have gone either way, the judges gave it to me.

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“The way he’s acted since and the way he’s coming across on social media makes me want to shut him up. It’s one of the main reasons I stayed at 140 so I could get that fight.”

A mandatory title defence against Zepeda appears likely to come first after the 33-year-old recorded a first-round stoppage against Josue Vargas in October.

But Taylor, who had to vacate his WBA super-lightweight title due to the mandatory requirements of the governing body, remains hopeful of facing Catterall again before the end of the year.

“We’re doing everything we can in our power to make this fight happen alongside the Zepeda fight as well,” said Taylor. “If not after the Zepeda fight then next.

“This time around the motivation is there which I never had the last time, the motivation is there because of everything that has happened since the fight.

“Hopefully the sooner the better for me. The only reason I’m staying at the weight is to fight Catterall. Obviously Zepeda is a huge fight as well, that’s the one that looks like it’s happening next.

“If that’s happening next I’ll be focusing on him straight away, giving him all my attention and focus and forgetting about Catterall at the minute.

“The real reason I’m staying at this weight is to get that fight, but if it doesn’t happen it’s on their side, we’re doing everything on our side to make sure it happens.”

Taylor says he is merely waiting on Zepeda’s team to finalise the details of their prospective title showdown, which looks set to take place in front of a home crowd.

“Still not confirmed yet, still working on negotiations and things like that,” he explained. “It’s his side really that we’re waiting on everything, still not confirmed but it’s looking likely.

“It will be in Scotland most likely. My next fight anyway, whether it’s this one or not, will be in Scotland.

“We’re looking for the Zepeda fight next obviously because it’s the mandatory defence. If it can’t be made, the other fight I’m really wanting is the Catterall rematch.”

Zepeda is 35-2 in his career and riding a five-fight win streak that includes a thrilling fifth-round knockout victory over Ivan Baranchyk, who suffered a unanimous decision loss to Taylor in 2019.

“I think he’s a very good fighter, the two of us have boxed two of the same opponents in (Ivan) Baranchyk and (Jose) Ramirez,” continued Taylor.

Image:
Taylor celebrates as Catterall reacts in disbelief to the judges' decision

“He’s a very good counter-puncher, he leads people onto the shots and can fight a bit as well, he’s a very dangerous fighter so it’s one I’m looking forward to.

“Hopefully it can be made, if not then onto the next one. We’re just sitting tight at the minute, it’s all on their side.”

Whether before or after Zepeda, there is a feeling of inevitability and perhaps of necessity to a rematch with Catterall.

Reflecting on their initial contest, Taylor admits he has been more focused on his own lacklustre display than the heated aftermath.

“I know it was a tight fight, it could have gone either way,” he said. “If they’d have given it to Jack by a round or two then fine, fair enough, I’d have been absolutely gutted and lost my belts and things like that.

“The judges gave it to me and I felt like I did enough to win the fight, I said that to Catterall right after the bell went. I feel like I did just enough to win the fight and nobody can tell me any different, so I feel like I did the right job, just – although it was a very, very bad performance by myself.

“I was more frustrated at the way I boxed than anything, I was terrible that night.”

Sourse: skysports.com

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