Taylor And Catterall Get Chance To Settle Controversy Once And For All

February 14, 2024
2 months
Taylor Catterall

Boxing history is filled with shocking decisions that have robbed fighters of victory and undermined the credibility of the sport.

Some of the biggest names in the game have fallen victim to terrible judging; the likes of Roy Jones Jr (at the 1988 Seoul Olympics), Manny Pacquiao (vs Timothy Bradley), and Pernell Whittaker (vs Jose Luis Ramirez) have all been on the receiving end of highly controversial decisions.

That is the jeopardy of a sport that relies on a scoring system that is often subjective, the destiny of fighters held in the hands of three ringside scorers, who have many times proved incapable of delivering accurate and fair scores.

One of the most controversial decisions in recent times – particularly in a British boxing ring – came on February 26, 2022, at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland where the majority of the boxing community agreed that Jack Catterall was robbed of victory against undisputed super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor.

More than two years on, a rematch has finally been agreed that will see Taylor and Catterall reunite on April 27 and settle this long-standing controversy once and for all.

What Happened In The First Fight?

On that night, Taylor was expected to enjoy a heroic homecoming. The ‘Tartan Tornado’ was returning to his homeland as only the second Scottish undisputed world champion and first Briton to achieve the feat in the four-belt era.

Sharing the ring with Taylor was Catterall, a young and talented prospect but a fighter not expected to handle the skill and athleticism of the champion. Instead what transpired was Catterall fighting a punch-perfect gameplan that left Taylor utterly flummoxed.

By the end of the fight, the champion had been knocked down once, had a point deducted, and was left battered and bruised. For what it’s worth, Catterall also had one point deducted, in the 10th round, but by that stage it would have surely taken something miraculous for Taylor to retain his titles and preserve his unbeaten record.

Either a miracle or some very questionable scoring, as to the shock of everyone watching – outside of Team Taylor – it was the champion who had his arm raised in victory. One judge, Howard Foster, scored the fight for Catterall 113-112, while Victor Loughlin scored it 113-112 to Taylor. Handing the Scot the controversial victory, third judge Ian John-Lewis somehow saw the fight 114-111 to Taylor, earning him one of the most controversial split decisions in modern boxing.

Post-Fight Reaction

Catterall was understandably distraught and made his way straight to the changing room. His trainer, the former European super-welterweight champion Jamie Moore, spoke on his behalf and echoed the thoughts of many people who watched the fight.

“The moment you think you’ve worked all your life and you are going to be crowned world champion after a performance like that, and it’s snatched away from you,” Moore said. “It’s disgusting, I don’t even know what to say. You’ve asked Jack to come down here, as if Jack can come and speak. He’s absolutely heartbroken.”

Ben Shalom, the head of Boxxer and promoter of the fight, called for an immediate inquiry into the fight, saying after the bout: “I was worried they might call a draw and stop Jack having this historic night. But the way that this has gone, I’m in shock right now. I’m shellshocked.

“There has to be an inquest, because I’ve seen this on other promoters’ shows and I’ve sort of maybe laid the blame with them or not understood what’s gone on. But this is embarrassing and if there’s not an inquest it’s going to harm the sport.”

Numerous fighters, past and present, and influential boxing figures shared similar sentiments, with the likes of Carl Frampton, Dillian Whyte, and Michael Buffer all taking to social media to criticize the judges’ scoring.

The British Boxing Board of Control eventually demoted John-Lewis from an A Star Class to an A Class Official, but it was scant consolation for a fighter who’d had the biggest night of his career stolen from him.

What Have Both Fighters Been Doing Since?

Despite insisting he had done enough to win the first fight – convincing arguably himself and no one else – Taylor, to be fair to him, did try to arrange a rematch with Catterall. That meant giving up three of his four world titles as he was unable to fulfill his mandatory commitments.

However, an injury sustained in training saw the rematch cancelled and both fighters went in other directions. After being out of the ring for 16 months, Taylor put his last remaining belt, the WBA, on the line against former unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez last June and suffered his first professional defeat.

It was a fight of two halves that saw Taylor start strong but fade drastically as Lopez became a two-weight world champion with a unanimous points victory.

Catterall, meanwhile, has fought twice since the loss to Taylor. He returned to the ring last May and beat Darragh Foley to collect the vacant WBA intercontinental super-lightweight title, before retaining it with a victory over Jorge Linares last October.

Who Is Favorite For the Rematch?

It’s a tough one to predict at this stage. Taylor is coming off a chastening defeat where his legs looked completely shot in the second half of the fight against Lopez. Whether that was a one-off issue or signs of decline can only be determined in his next fight.

Catterall, on the other hand, is coming off successive victories but neither Foley nor Linares are in the same class as Taylor when it comes to skill and ring craft.

Will Catterall be able to deploy and successfully execute the same game plan that was so effective the first time against Taylor, or will Taylor have a blueprint to nullify his rival? All will be revealed on April 27.