A heated rivalry comes to a head in New York City this Saturday night.
Undefeated junior welterweight king Josh Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) will defend his WBO and Ring Magazine titles against former lightweight kingpin Teofimo Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
In the eight-round co-feature, Puerto Rican junior middleweight phenom Xander Zayas (15-0, 10 KOs) will take on Ronald “Diablo” Cruz (18-2-1, 12 KOs).
Taylor-Lopez and Zayas-Cruz will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
The ESPN+-streamed undercard (5:15 p.m ET/2:15 p.m. PT) includes lightweight contender Jamaine Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) and rising junior lightweight Henry Lebron (17-0, 10 KOs) in 10-rounders, along with the returns of Polish heavyweight Damian Knyba (11-0, 7 KOs) and featherweight prospect Bruce Carrington (7-0, 4 KOs) in separate eight-round fights.
Unbeaten junior welterweight prospect Omar Rosario (10-0, 3 KOs) steps up against Jan Carlos Rivera (8-1, 6 KOs) in an eight-round Puerto Rico vs. Puerto Rico showdown.
Promoted by Top Rank, tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.
At Thursday’s press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.
“He means what he says, and I mean what I say. There is genuine dislike here. He’s been disrespectful. I’m going to make him pay for his words on Saturday. I can’t wait to get in there. You will see a Josh Taylor win, possibly by KO, and nice and early as well.”
“I know he’s a good fighter. The version that beat Lomachenko is a very good fighter. That’s the version I’m preparing for. It’s all about your preparation. I’ve prepared diligently and to the best of my ability. You’ll see the best of me on Saturday night.”
“This is dream come true. You always dream of coming stateside and fighting in venues like this. This is the ‘Mecca of Boxing’, Madison Square Garden. I can’t wait to get in there to make this dream become a reality, and this clown here is in my way.”
“What is ‘The Takeover’ if he doesn’t take over the guys that are the kingpins of the division? So, when it comes to Josh Taylor and the junior welterweights, he is the guy. That’s the guy that you have to beat to be the greatest. That’s what we aim for all the time.”
“I worked my a** off. Eleven weeks of camp. This is going to be the best version of me. Practice makes improvement. We’ve improved since my last fight. We’re ready to put on a show. I’m going to be a two-time lineal world champion.”
“I’m excited about this. This is like a dream come true. What more can you really shoot for? Nobody has really called out Josh Taylor. Who knows why? Maybe because he beat everyone already. But I’m here. I’m here to come in there and take everything that you’ve got.”
“This is the first time that I will fight during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend. I’m excited for this one. It’s awesome to see all these different cultures come together and bring an excellent show to MSG and to New York. I’m ready to put on a show for all of my Puerto Rican fans Saturday night.”
“He is motivated. He’s been waiting for this opportunity his whole life. So, I expect him to come out and try to put on a show. When the fight got postponed, we contacted Top Rank and said that this is the opponent we wanted to fight. They allowed me to do that, and now here we are. I’m excited to showcase what we have been working on.”
“I’m beyond excited. This is an opportunity I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I’ve been preparing really hard. I can’t wait. I’m excited to go out there and have fun. I’ve spent a lot of years getting to this point. I’ve been in the ring with great world champions like Mike Tyson, Sergey Lipinets and Janibek Alimkhanuly. It’s my time. I can’t wait to get in there.”
“I’m very excited to make a statement here at Top Rank and be one of the top competitors here and chase a world title. I don’t really listen to media during fight week. I’m just focused on my opponent, my training and what I have to do on Saturday to come out victorious. After that, we can talk about my plans. Every opponent has his set of challenges. Humberto Galindo is a power hitter, so I have to stay sharp and focused.”
“I like to take things one step at a time in my career. I’m just going to focus on this fight. Nicolas Polanco is a great fighter. I’m super confident that I’m going to put on a great show this Saturday. After that, I want to fight Oscar Valdez again because I still to this day don’t understand how I lost that fight.”
“It’s always special to be here because I get to perform in front of my family, my friends and my fans. This is home. It’s also the ‘Mecca of Boxing.’ It’s always a great opportunity to get to fight here.”
“This is the second time that I am on a card like this at a place where many great fighters have performed. I will give 100 percent on Saturday. We moved to Florida to train for this fight. It has been a super good training camp. We worked with Javiel Centeno. We worked hard, and you are going to see the result.”
“I’m extremely proud of my heritage and where I come from. The Polish people are waiting for the next Andrew Golota, and I hope that’s going to be me. Getting to a world title is a process for me. I didn’t have a long amateur career. We have a great plan. I think in about three or four years I’ll be reaching my prime, and I’ll be ready to attack.”
“This is my second time fighting here at MSG during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend. I am ready to make a statement and demonstrate that I am the future of the 140-pound division. Fighting in New York is like fighting in Puerto Rico because a lot of Puerto Ricans are coming to MSG. Last year, I felt the energy, and I like it. I know that Saturday night will be the same.”
Saturday, June 10
ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT)
Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez, 12 rounds, Taylor’s WBO and Ring Magazine Junior Welterweight World Titles
Xander Zayas vs. Ronald Cruz, 8 rounds, Junior Middleweights
ESPN+ (5:15 p.m. ET/2:15 p.m. PT)
Jamaine Ortiz vs. Humberto Galindo, 10 rounds, Lightweight
Robson Conçeicão vs. Nicolas Polanco, 10 rounds, Junior Lightweight
Omar Rosario vs. Jan Carlos Rivera, 8 rounds, Junior Welterweight
Damian Knyba vs. Helaman Olguin, 8 rounds, Heavyweight
Bruce Carrington vs. Luis Porozo, 8 rounds, Featherweight
Henry Lebron vs. Carlos Ramos, 10 rounds, Junior Lightweight
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