Josh Taylor has been ordered to defend his WBO light-welterweight title against Teofimo Lopez next after a foot injury scuppered the Scot’s proposed rematch with Jack Catterall.
A voluntary defence against Catterall on March 4 in Glasgow was postponed after Taylor tore the plantar fascia tendon in his heel in sparring and the much-anticipated return bout may now be put on the backburner.
That is because the WBO has written to Bob Arum, the promoter of both Taylor and former unified lightweight champion Lopez, instructing the start of negotiations for a contest between the pair.
Lopez, who has won his last two fights since moving up to 140lbs after dropping his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to George Kambosos Jr in November 2021 in a shock defeat, is now Taylor’s mandatory challenger.
WBO chairman Luis Batista Salas outlined the terms of the fight in an official letter which stated: “In the wake of the recent postponement of the Josh Taylor/Jack Catterall WBO voluntary title defence, the WBO world championship committee is hereby ordering the commencement of negotiations for the mandatory title defence obligation in the jr. welterweight division between Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez, Jr.
“The camps herein are granted 10 days upon issuance of this notice to reach an agreement or purse bid proceedings shall be conducted pursuant to WBO regulations of world championship contests.
“The minimum bid for the jr. welterweight division is 150,000 US dollars. Any of the parties involved may request a purse bid ceremony at any time during the negotiation process.”
Taylor extended his perfect professional record to 19 wins from as many fights with a controversial points victory over fellow Briton Catterall 12 months ago to retain his WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF crowns.
While Taylor was given the nod by split decision, many observers felt Catterall had done enough to get the verdict. Taylor has since vacated his WBC, WBA and IBF titles.
Catterall now seems to have turned his attention to a fight against WBC champion Regis Prograis next, writing on Twitter earlier this week: “They can fight, see who is the biggest duck. Me and @RPrograis can get it on next.”