Josh Taylor vows to ‘tear apart’ Jack Catterall after recovering from eye injury that plagued him for five years



Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall
The hate runs deep (Picture: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)

Josh Taylor’s focus is clearer than ever ahead of his grudge rematch against Jack Catterall having addressed a long-term eye injury that threatened to derail his career.

Two years on from their unforgettable first showdown in Glasgow where Taylor won a hugely contentious split decision, the two run it back in Leeds on Saturday night to settle a vicious feud that has raged ever since.

It has been a long wait to get them in the ring together again. More often than not, it has been the Scot taking the brunt of criticism when plans have fallen through.

This rematch was originally slated to take place in April only to be pushed back in February, the second time it was shelved in under a year.

Taylor had recently undergone a procedure on his eye and needed slightly longer to recover. But it was a small price to pay in addressing a problem he says has plagued him for almost five years, dating back to his 2019 classic against Regis Prograis.

That night in London saw ‘The Tartan Tornado’ unify the IBF and WBA titles, becoming undisputed king of the super-lightweight division two years later when he beat Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas.

Following the exquisite performances on those nights, Taylor struggled against Catterall before suffering the first defeat of his professional career against Teofimo Lopez last May, adamant issues with his vision played their part.

Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall
(The two have repeatedly clashed at press conferences (Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

‘It was something I needed to get done in order to get the best out of myself,’ Taylor told Metro.co.uk.

‘It has been a hinderance over the last few years. I retained it a bit from the Prograis fight, I started noticing I was getting a bit of double vision even back then.

‘It has been like that the last three or four years and it was really starting to affect me in training.

‘It was troubling me in fights. It wasn’t since I got the operation done when I was able to say, “wow, how the hell was I able to compete at a high level, a world level, with the vision I had?”

‘I had almost learned to live with it, adjusting the angle of my head in a certain way for the way I was looking at things. Once I got it done, I was back to normal, it felt like I was seeing for the first time. Like a kid who had got glasses for the first time. Now there’s no limitations to what I can do.’

Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall First Face Off
Taylor out to end any questions over who the better man is (Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing/Getty Images)

Taylor’s objectives include reclaiming world title gold with current WBC super-lightweight champion Devin Haney, along with the man who recently beat him in Ryan Garcia, among those in his sights. There is also the small matter of avenging his only defeat to date against Lopez.

But a brutal and hostile war with Catterall needs settling first. The rivalry has been one of British boxing’s most engrossing since that night in Glasgow, a fight Catterall was widely viewed to have won only for two of the three judges to award it in Taylor’s favour.

In the years that have followed, it has festered, punctuated by savage insults through interviews and social media with the tagline for Saturday’s fight ‘Hate Runs Deep’ seemingly an appropriate one.

But for Taylor, he is looking forward to moving on.

‘It is purely business for me, it always is,’ he said. ‘It been quite an unpleasant few years in some ways but I am pretty detached from it all and just focusing on the job. I am 100 per cent confident that I go in and really do a number on him and show him there are levels to this game.’

Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall
Taylor spoke to Metro courtesy of WOW HYDRATE.

While the public demand for the rematch has been huge, injuries and decisions made outside the ring have been the issue. After terms were initially agreed for a second fight in February last year, Taylor was forced to pull out with a foot injury.

Catterall went onto fight Darragh Foley that spring with Taylor returning in the summer for his mandatory title defence against Lopez. While Taylor recovered from that defeat, Catterall was back out again in October, outpointing the once-brilliant Jorge Linares, who retired the very next day.

All roads have led back to the rematch. But being identified as the problem getting there has been a source of frustration for Taylor.

‘It did get on my nerves. It was painted in a way that I was dodging the fight,’ he said. ‘Jack is not the sharpest tool in the box. He likes to talk about how they’ve cornered me into doing this – we had the fight nailed on and I got injured. He then took other fights, changed promoters [from BOXXER to Matchroom] and everyone has blamed me. You can’t win, no matter how much you argue your corner. But I am way past giving a s**t.’

Once the final bell goes on Saturday night, the dust will begin to settle – providing there aren’t any more contentious scorecards, of course. Will the show close with a handshake in the centre of the ring? ‘There is always that side of me, showing respect to my opponents. We’ll see,’ Taylor said.

‘But as of now, I just want to tear Jack apart, outbox him and make it a long, horrible night for him.’

Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall 2 is promoted by Matchroom and Top Rank Boxing is available to watch on ESPN+ in the U.S. and DAZN around the world.

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