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Josh Taylor begin rebuild process with Jack Catterall rematch

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(This story originally published on MMA Junkie sister-site BoxingJunkie.com)

Josh Taylor enjoyed the highest highs and endured the lowest lows of boxing over the past five years.

The 33-year-old Scotsman had a tremendous run from 2019 to 2021, when he defeated in succession Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis, Apinun Khongsong and Jose Ramirez to become the king of the 140-pound division and an international star.

Then came 2022 and last year, when brought him back to earth. He struggled to defeat Jack Catterall by a disputed decision and then was outclassed in a unanimous decision loss to Teofimo Lopez last June. The former damaged his reputation, the latter cost him his titles.

And a rematch with Catterall was postponed twice because of injuries to Taylor, first involving his foot and then his eye, adding to his frustration.

He’ll have a chance to put all that behind him and regain some of what he lost when he faces his English rival a second time on Saturday night at First Direct Arena in Leeds (ESPN+).

“It’s just another fight week and on Saturday it’s just another fight,” Taylor, 33, said at a news conference Thursday. “I am looking forward to putting all this to bed and moving on with my career and proving that the last time was just an off night.

“Look at the history of boxing. All the great fighters of the past have taken defeats and come back and won world titles again. Just because you take one defeat, it doesn’t mean you are a finished fighter.

“I think that’s where boxing has taken a turn for the worse because when a fighter takes a loss everyone says, ‘Ah he’s finished’, and stuff like that. But in the UFC, there are fighters that have got 20 fights with 10 losses but they are still at the top of the game and still fighting.

“Just because you take a loss it doesn’t mean that you are a bad fighter. I still feel that I am at the top of the game and on Saturday, I take care of business and I am back in the picture and winning my titles back.”

Taylor (19-1, 13 KOs) was fortunate to have his hand raised after his first fight with fellow southpaw Catterall (28-1, 13 KOs).

The then-champion went down from a pair of overhand lefts in the eighth round, which stunned Taylor’s home-country fans in Glasgow. And he was never able to take control of the fight, although he did his best work down the stretch.

He stated the obvious after the fight: “It wasn’t my best performance.”

“The last fight was a stinker from both of us,” Taylor said Thursday. “Jack was doing a lot of holding and spoiling, slowing the pace down, I was very poor as well. I believe the two of us can be a lot better, and it will be a better fight for the fans.

“It’s going to be a barnstormer, we were in the arena on Monday and got a bit of a surprise, it’s right on top of you. So it’s going to be a great experience and atmosphere in there.”

It has been a while since Taylor has had a great experience.

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