THE timing of a rematch in boxing is often as important as the timing of a punch. Go back immediately and it can, for the loser of the first fight, become a lesson in patience and acceptance, whereas to wait too long can sometimes be a case of opportunity missed.

Most of the time, of course, we tend to see immediate rematches, many of which are contracted before the first fight has even started. This is mainly due to financial reasons, for the immediate rematch offers both fighters the chance to effectively double their money. Moreover, it capitalises on the interest of fans; interest which has a propensity to wane if the rematch is not immediate and therefore a continuation of the storyline.

In the case of Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall, two super-lightweights who should have shared at least two fights by now, it remains to be seen whether their rematch, set for April 27 in Leeds, retains the intrigue it would have had had it come immediately after their first fight back in February 2022.

Certainly, so great was the controversy surrounding that fight, it made sense to run it back as soon as possible. Catterall, the “loser”, was incensed by the decision that had gone against him, and so too were many of the fans who watched the fight. Taylor, meanwhile, stubbornly deflected accusations of any wrongdoing, but will have surely wanted to put the record straight and avoid two years of people telling him Catterall, despite not getting the decision, outboxed him for the 12 rounds they shared.

That the rematch then didn’t materialise straight away would have been a cause for frustration. It would have been frustrating not only for Catterall, who found himself belt-less, back in the wilderness, and a man easy to avoid, but also for Taylor, whose record remained unbeaten but whose reputation had taken quite a knock.

The frustration was felt by the fans, too, for ever since that night they have been left to argue amongst themselves. They have had to imagine, rather than discover, what would happen should Taylor and Catterall share a ring for a second time.

Taylor and Catterall do battle

Naturally, both fighters will blame the other for this rematch taking so long. But the important thing now is that, per a Matchroom press release issued this evening (February 15), an agreement appears to have at last been struck.

“I’ve never run from anyone in my life, especially not Jack Catterall,” said Taylor. “He has spent the last two years running from promoter to promoter while living off my name. Jack should be careful what he wishes for because he’s getting battered on April 27. I am going to enjoy every second of this. See you soon, Jack.”

“I’ve wanted this fight since the moment the scorecards got read out in Glasgow,” said Catterall. “A few people say, ‘Move on, Jack,’ and that’s easy to say to when you’re not in my position. I get asked every day of my life multiple times a day, ‘When are you fighting Taylor again?’ This isn’t about belts’; this is personal to me and I can’t wait to get my hands on him. I don’t like him, I don’t respect him and on April 27 I’m going to end him.”

Now that it is happening, you can add Taylor vs. Catterall II to the list of rematches that have taken place not immediately but with some time and space between fights one and two. Fights like Chris Eubank vs. Nigel Benn, for example. The first fight between those two happened at middleweight in 1990, while the return, which was set at super-middleweight, happened three years later in 1993. Then, more recently, we had Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, who fought (to a draw) for the first time in December 2018, only to wait to have their rematch in February 2020.

There have been plenty of other examples of this, too, and not always is it a bad thing. After all, with a bit of time and space between fights, there is always the chance for improvement on the part of both boxers involved. There is also the chance that they will go on to have greater success and that their rematch, by the time it happens, has become even bigger in terms of magnitude than it would have been had it gone ahead following their first fight.

With Taylor and Catterall, it is hard to say how the April 27 rematch will be received. Taylor, 19-1 (13), is currently a man without a belt following a decision loss against Teofimo Lopez in June, while Catterall, 28-1 (13), has had two low-key outings since that first Taylor fight, beating both Darragh Foley and Jorge Linares on points.

In that sense, then, the rematch between Taylor and Catterall may have lost some of its prestige and its momentum. Yet that’s not to say it has lost any of its importance.