Saturday’s ESPN main event is a big one, as all four world titles at 140 lbs are on the line between WBC/WBO titleholder Jose Ramirez and WBA/IBF titleholder Josh Taylor.
We’ve seen more fighters really looking to do this sort of thing recently — it’s the current main career goal of Canelo Alvarez, it’s what Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua is largely about (even if it’s not happening next), and it’s what Teofimo Lopez touts even if his claim is messy through no fault of his own. For years, I thought people — fans, I mean — put too much emphasis on the claim, because the reigns almost never last even when they’re achieved. One sanctioning body will force a fight nobody wants, belts get vacated or stripped, the champ moves up in weight, whatever.
But anymore, I just think, “Neat! That’s neat.” And it will be neat on Saturday. Even if the winner moves right up to 147 for a money fight with Terence Crawford or whatever else and all the belts wind up scattered into the wind, it’s a significant achievement.
How to Watch Ramirez vs Taylor
And this fight is a particularly good one, too. Ramirez (26-0, 17 KO) and Taylor (17-0, 13 KO) aren’t mega-super-duper stars, but they are damn good fighters, both of them, right in their prime years, and the style matchup is one that could produce some fireworks, though I’ll say personally I don’t think we’ll see Tim Bradley’s Fight of the Year hype. But I’ve been wrong before.
Taylor, 30, could do well to look at how Jose Zepeda and Viktor Postol fought the 28-year-old Ramirez in 2019 and 2020. Between those fights — both narrow points wins for Ramirez, not robberies but far from domination — he won a firefight with Maurice Hooker. Ramirez might actually be at his best in a firefight, where he can throw with his opponents and capitalize on their mistakes.
Taylor, on the other hand, is arguably at his best just boxing smart and doing his business. He didn’t blow away Regis Prograis or Ivan Baranchyk in 2019, but he won both fights, and he scored a lopsided decision win over Postol in 2018, too.
As for the two Postol bouts, I don’t put too much into comparing them; styles make fights, and so can timing. Postol caught Ramirez at a weird spot in an empty room in Vegas after Ramirez hadn’t fought for 13 months. But there may be something to take from the way Postol was able to lull Ramirez into his sort of boxing match a lot of the time. And there may also be something for Ramirez to take from what Prograis was able to do against Taylor in what was easily Taylor’s toughest bout to date.
Will Taylor be the same fighter without Shane McGuigan in his corner? His thrashing of a way over-matched Apinun Khongsong told us nothing. Taylor says he’s better with Ben Davison, and maybe he will be, but I think that’s an open question?
For whatever it’s worth, Taylor is currently a -250 favorite with MGM, and Ramirez a +200 underdog. Much closer odds than most main events in big-time boxing. (Haney-Linares and Lopez-Kambosos both currently have -1000 favorites, for instance.)
Who wins Jose Ramirez vs Josh Taylor?
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