Jose Ramirez, the WBC and WBO junior welterweight titlist, and Josh Taylor, the WBA and IBF titleholder, will meet on Saturday to crown the undisputed champion in the division.
Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs), 28, of Avenal, California, last fought in August when he successfully defended his titles via majority decision victory against Viktor Postol — a fight that was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while he’s a slight underdog against Taylor, Ramirez believes this is the right time for the fight, and a big opportunity to show he’s the best fighter in the division.
“In my mind, I’m supposed to win this fight,” Ramirez said. “I don’t let the outside noise get to me. No matter what you do, or who you beat, there’s always going to be somebody else out there. At this moment, that person is Josh Taylor.
“We both wanted the fight, and I respect him for taking on the challenge. Josh and I are out to make history, and I know I will be the better man on [Saturday].”
Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs), 30, of Edinburgh, Scotland, won the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight tournament by defeating Ryan Martin, Ivan Baranchyk and Regis Prograis and took home both of the belts he currently holds, along with the Muhammad Ali Trophy. With a win against Ramirez, he can become the first four-belt undisputed champion from Scotland in the country’s history.
“Undisputed world title fights in Las Vegas are rare, special,” Taylor told ESPN’s Nick Parkinson. “I’m really lucky and privileged to be in this position, to land a fight of this magnitude. But I have worked my backside off to get to this position, I didn’t get here by luck, and I will do my hardest to make sure I make the most of the opportunity.”
Stay here for live undercard results and analysis.
Fight in progress: Elvis Rodriguez vs. Kenneth Sims Jr., 8 rounds, junior welterweights
Vivas wins controversial decision over Coria
It’s going to be hard to find a better fight on the undercard than Jose Vivas-Louie Coria.
Both featherweights stood on the inside, and they traded power punches for nearly their entire featherweight bout. Despite being knocked down twice and being deducted a point for a foul, Vivas pulled out a unanimous decision victory with a 75-74 score on all three scorecards.
The Coria cheering section, along with the fighter from Moreno Valley, California, were displeased when the decision was announced. Vivas (21-1, 11 KOs) won six of the eight rounds on each of the three scorecards. The judges differed on which non-knockdown round Coria (12-5, 7 KOs) won. Two had Coria winning the fourth, while another had Coria taking the sixth.
Coria found success in the third round against Vivas, who is from Texcoco, Mexico. First, Coria knocked Vivas down with a left hook. Then, Coria was given a questionable knockdown after Vivas stumbled into the ropes.
However, the ruling didn’t ultimately affect the outcome, as Vivas did enough late to squeak out the victory.
Cortes outpoints Garza in entertaining bout
Andres Cortes and Eduardo Garza deserved a better ovation from the crowd for their eight-round fight.
Finding one person to smack their hands together for applause was seemingly asking too much inside the theater at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Cortes and Garza deserved it after an action-packed fight that Cortes won via unanimous decision 77-75, 78-74, 79-73.
The two fighters ended the sixth round that Cortes won with a big exchange on the ropes, and there was nothing but silence from the sparse crowd. I understand that it was still early in the non-televised portion of the undercard, but c’mon, folks.
Cortes, the undefeated junior lightweight from Las Vegas, doled out most of the punishment against a very game Garza, who hails from Mission, Texas (the same hometown as NFL coaching legend Tom Landry). Cortes (14-0, 7 KOs) was incredibly sharp and did just about everything well in a good back-and-forth fight. He landed some good overhand rights and a few hooks to the body that his corner loved.
Ramirez wins but doesn’t shine
Robeisy Ramirez might have won his bout over Las Vegas native Ryan Lee Allen, but the Cuban prospect had the kind of victory that should be good teaching tape moving forward.
Ramirez scored a unanimous decision over Allen, via judges’ scorecards of 60-53, 60-53, 59-54, in a well-deserved win that featured a knockdown in the second round. But Ramirez, who is from Cienfuegos, lacked consistency in the six-round featherweight fight.
Ramirez (7-1, 4 KOs) had a lull in the third and fourth rounds as Allen (10-5-1, 5 KOs) pressed the action and looked to be aggressive after he hit the canvas in Round 2. Once the bell rang for the fifth round, Ramirez appeared to increase the tempo and displayed the sharpness that led to the knockdown off a straight left from Ramirez’s southpaw stance.
It’s not hard to argue that Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, could have looked more impressive in the performance. Ramirez’s deep amateur background and traditional defensive Cuban style have been evident throughout his pro career. But if Ramirez wants to take his career to the next level, the 27-year-old will need to find that next gear.
Muratalla stops Gallegos in Round 5
Raymond Muratalla put on a dazzling performance against an overmatched Jose Gallegos to get a fifth-round stoppage win in their lightweight fight.
Muratalla (12-0, 10 KOs) poured on the punches in Round 5, including a big left uppercut that had been an effective punch for him from the first round on. Gallegos (20-11, 15 KOs), of Bakersfield, California, did well to stand up to Muratalla’s attack throughout the fight, but he was mercifully saved by referee Mike Ortega, who peered in to evaluate Gallegos throughout the fight. Eventually, Ortega had seen enough.
The undefeated lightweight from Fontana, California, showed why he is an intriguing prospect. Muratalla made the most of his 72-inch reach — an 8-inch advantage over that of Gallegos — and showed good power and accuracy as he varied punches between the head and body.
The Top Rank fighter could be due for an increased level of competition.
Gallegos had lost two of his past three fights, with the lone victory coming in Mexico against a fighter who was 0-19 before their bout.
Martinez demolishes Metcalf to stay unbeaten
The first bout of the Taylor-Ramirez card went a little longer than one might have expected, but the expected outcome finally played out.
Javier Martinez, the undefeated middleweight prospect out of Milwaukee, picked up a vicious fourth-round KO victory over Kansas City’s Calvin Metcalf. Martinez landed a massive right hook from his southpaw stance that crumpled Metcalf (10-6-1, 3 KOs). The referee didn’t count for very long before he waived off the fight, as Metcalf was obviously hurt.
Martinez (4-0, 2 KOs) had a sizable speed and power advantage. While Metcalf tried to plod forward with straight punches, Martinez used an array of hooks, including several to the body, in hopes of hurting Metcalf.
Martinez served as a sparring partner for Jose Ramirez in advance of Saturday’s undisputed junior welterweight bout against Josh Taylor. Ramirez and Martinez are both trained by Robert Garcia, considered by many to be one of the best cornermen in the world.
Still to come:
Title fight: Jose Ramirez vs. Josh Taylor, 12 rounds, for Ramirez’s WBC and WBO titles and Taylor’s WBA and IBF titles
Jose Zepeda vs. Hank Lundy, 10 rounds, junior welterweights