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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 10: Josh Taylor (L) and Teofimo Lopez (R) exchange punches during their WBO junior welterweight championship fight at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Teofimo Lopez shows that he still has it

Puerto Rican phenom Xander Zayas wows crowd again

In case there was doubt in anybody’s mind, including his own, Teofimo Lopez still has it. The mercurial Honduran American found his swagger and dominant form Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Back in his hometown, the Brooklyn native appeared stronger with each round while claiming a 12-round unanimous decision against Josh Taylor. His playful swagger was also back at times while he toyed with Taylor to win the WBO and Ring Magazine junior welterweight world titles.

Lopez was back in the ring at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden for the first time since he beat Sandor Martin in December. Exactly six months earlier, Lopez was in a vulnerable state.

Wearing a USC football jersey and leaning back on the ropes after beating Martin, Lopez was clearly disappointed in his performance last Dec. 10.

“Bro, do I still have it?” he asked his team last Dec. 10. “Do I still got it?”

Teofimo Lopez answers questions to himself

The Takeover definitely still has it. He proved as much during the Puerto Day Parade weekend’s main event. Lopez, 25, even showed some maturity by apologizing to Taylor for saying earlier that he wanted to kill him in the ring.

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“I questioned myself for a good reason,” he told the media Saturday night. “You guys don’t understand. I’ve always been my worst critic. And you guys got a little glimpse of it. But I’ve just got to ask you one thing, and one thing only. Do I still got it?”

The answer is yes.

Lopez improved to 19-1 while becoming a lineal world champion in two divisions. He has won three consecutive fights since suffering the first loss of his career in a split decision against George Kambosos Jr. on Nov. 27, 2021.

Lopez won the fight 115-113 on two of the judges’ scorecards, and 117-111 on the other. Taylor, 32, fell to 19-1 after suffering the first defeat of his career. Not surprisingly, Taylor declared his desire for a rematch. He was adamant that he can perform better and beat Lopez if the champion gives him another shot.

“It wasn’t my best,” Taylor said. “The better man won tonight. I’ve got no excuses. I fought to the best of my ability. He was better than me tonight. It is what it is. Congratulations to Teofimo.

“I thought it was a close fight. I’d love to do it again.”

Xander Zayas rolls, Amanda Nunes retires on top

In another fight at Madison Square Garden, junior middleweight phenom Xander Zayas, 20, improved to 16-0 with an eight-round unanimous decision against Ronald “Diablo” Cruz (18-3-1, 12 KOs). The Puerto Rican phenom made the super welterweight fight look easy while defending his NABF and NABO belts.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Xander Zayas (R) knocks-down Ronald Cruz (L) during their super welterweight fight at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 10, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“This is a dream come true,” Zayas told the media Saturday night. “I’m very happy to have fought during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend. He was a tough guy. I was hitting him with everything. He didn’t want to go down.”

In Vancouver, Canada, the legendary Amanda Nunes announced her retirement from UFC after defeating Mexican underdog Irene Aldana at UFC 289.

Aldana couldn’t pull off the upset against the Lioness from Brazil at Rogers Arena. Nunes (23-5-0) dominated Aldana to retain her bantamweight belt with a unanimous decision. The Lioness retires as a two-division champion and arguably the best women’s MMA fighter ever. 

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