Revenge for Jack Catterall as he beats bitter rival Josh Taylor on points in long-awaited rematch

Revenge: Jack Catterall won on all three cards (Action Images via Reuters)
Revenge: Jack Catterall won on all three cards (Action Images via Reuters)

Jack Catterall produced a superb performance to beat Josh Taylor on points in a long-awaited grudge match, though admitted it was a “bittersweet” night in Leeds.

The British rivals first fought two years ago, when Taylor won a hugely controversial points decision to retain his undisputed super-lightweight status and deny Catterall the chance to become world champion.

A much-anticipated rematch, the biggest British fight of the year, produced an ever better bout, one that Catterall took charge of in the early stages with a stiff jab and a succession of left hands.

Scorecards of 117-111, 117-111, and 116-113 in favour of the Englishman were, at least in two cases, surprisingly wide, but this was a deserved victory for Catterall, even if there were no belts on the line as reward.

“It’s bittersweet tonight,” Catterall admitted. “I won the fight, no world titles, we can close that chapter with Josh Taylor.

“I believe I won the fight, I took more risks this time. Josh is an elite fighter, undisputed champion. We knew we were up against it, but I went through the gears, boxed smart. Even in the second-half, the rounds I was more reserved in I was controlling the fight, I wasn’t getting hit with big punches. I was landing clear.”

Taylor shook his head as the scorecards were read out, believing he had done enough to get the decision, and he called for a third fight between the pair.

"I thought it was a great fight, fair play to Jack he boxed a better fight tonight but I thought I just nicked it,” Taylor insisted.

"Given the controversy in the first fight that's probably what played into the judges' minds. But let's do a third one. If he wants to go on and challenge for bigger fights he deserves it, but I think that's one apiece. Let's do a trilogy."

Those were measured comments compared to those of his promoter, Bob Arum. The 92-year-old grabbed a microphone in the ring to interrupt proceedings and took aim at the judges in an impromptu rant.

“Those scorecards were a disgrace, an absolute disgrace,” Arum proclaimed to a chorus of boos.

“I really feel sorry for Josh, I thought he won the fight. Those scorecards were ridiculous. That’s the lesson - I will never, ever allow an American fighter to come here with the British board scoring the fight..”

Catterall established himself in the early stages of the bout, countering brilliantly off the back foot, and he repeatedly caught Taylor with the clean shots, as the Scottish fighter attempted to close the distance.

The third round was a better one for Taylor, a left hook his first clean shot of the night to land, but Catterall responded well and was firmly in control at halfway. The sound of a bell was a relief for Taylor in the fifth, as he was forced back onto the ropes and saved as Catterall prepared to unload.

It was Taylor who found a second wind, though, and increasingly forced the issue as momentum shifted. He raised his glove at the end of the eighth round, confident he was in control, as Catterall’s jab became less of a factor and Taylor walked his man down.

The fight was still in the balance heading into the championship rounds, with the 11th a significant turning point. Taylor knew he needed a strong finish, but he was caught with a massive left hook, stiffening his legs as he was the bundled to the canvas by the over-eager Catterall.

That left Taylor in need of a special final three minutes, but Catterall found the cleaner shots, landing combinations off the back foot and staying out of danger. Both celebrated at the final bell, but only Catterall was still doing so as he left the ring.