Josh Taylor joined an elite group of undisputed champions in boxing’s four-belt era, beating Jose Ramirez by decision to fully unify the 140 lb division tonight in Las Vegas.
Taylor (18-0, 13 KO) won on scores of 114-112 across the board, with knockdowns in the sixth and seventh rounds ultimately pushing him over the top. Without at least one of them, this fight would have been a hugely controversial draw, but they were both good knockdowns, hard and real. Bad Left Hook unofficially scored the fight a bit wider for Taylor, at 116-110.
Taylor, 30, got off to a solid start, and it was clear early that his speed and movement would be able to give Ramirez (26-1, 17 KO) serious problems. But Ramirez did dig in, and had some good success going to the body, making the fight plenty competitive.
But he was dropped early in the sixth, and managed to survive that round, and then got dropped hard late in the seventh. He wasn’t right for a couple rounds after that, but Taylor also wasn’t able to finish him off, either, and Ramirez made a hard stand down the stretch, too; you could even argue Taylor may have coasted a bit too much, feeling his lead was wider than the judges had it.
It was a damn good fight, with some particularly choice rounds of intensity in the first half. There clearly was some real animosity between the two, at least from Ramirez’s side, but they also embraced after the fight, and Taylor said his entire approach during fight week was just about mentally rattling Ramirez.
“I’ve got nothing but love for Ramirez. This week was no disrespect, it was all just part of the mind games to get inside his head, to make him more eager to jump in at me, to use his aggression against him,” Taylor said.
“We said all week in the build-up we were going to use his aggression against him. That’s what we did. We played the games up until this week to purely get in his head. There was no disrespect. It’s all love. I’ve got nothing but love and respect for Ramirez, I think he was a great champion, a great ambassador for the sport. I wish him all the best in the future.”
As for what the two said to one another after it was all over, Taylor told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, “He accepted my apology for the way I was acting, and we’re all good. He wished me all the best and blessed me and my family. He’s a really good person.”
Taylor also thought that the scoring as a little closer than it should have been.
“I thought the score cards were a little bit tight, I thought they were well wider than that,” he said. “I wasn’t too happy with the selection of the judges, but I wasn’t going to moan because I was so confident in winning this fight anyway. Two knockdowns and I won most of the rounds, and they scored it 114-112, which is a bit too close for my liking.”
“We congratulate him. You don’t see (undisputed champions) often,” Ramirez’s trainer Robert Garcia said. “He earned it, and he made history. But from what people are telling me, the second knockdown was kind of on a break or something, but I’ll have to go back and see it. But we win some, and we can’t win ‘em all.”
Jose Zepeda UD-10 Hank Lundy
There really isn’t a ton to say about this fight, so we’ll keep this section brief. Zepeda (34-2, 26 KO) won as everyone expected he would, but he underwhelmed against the 37-year-old Lundy (31-9-1, 14 KO), whose craftiness and veteran savvy kept him hanging around even though he was never a serious threat to actually win.
Zepeda, 31, has had other nights like this. Last year, he let Kendo Castaneda hang around. When he fought Jose Ramirez, Zepeda’s biggest problem was arguably himself, as he lost a majority decision.
Andre Ward touched on some of this, and others have said it before, too. Zepeda just doesn’t lead the dance well, not so much because he’s a strict counter-puncher or anything, but because he seems to lack that next-gear mentality where he really takes over and bosses fights. If you press him — as Ivan Baranchyk did in last year’s Fight of the Year — he can respond well and more than hold his own. But if you don’t make him fight really hard, he won’t.
Lundy can leave this one with his head held up. He took it on short notice and went the full 10 without any real problems. He lost, and clearly, but he wasn’t dominated or beaten up or anything.
Kenneth Sims Jr MD-8 Elvis Rodriguez
In the main card opener, Kenneth Sims Jr scored a big upset over previously unbeaten prospect Elvis Rodriguez, who became a “Bubble” favorite last year but has had his bubble burst in his last two outings, this one to a much bigger degree than having some struggles looking good last time out.
Sims (16-2-1, 5 KO) won a majority decision on scores of 76-76, 78-74, and 78-74. Bad Left Hook had the fight 76-76. Rodriguez (11-1-1, 10 KO) just never really asserted himself here, and while you could probably argue a win for him on a five rounds to three score, his limitations were again exposed by a solid boxer who knows his way around the ring.
“Exposed” definitely gets thrown around a lot in boxing circles, but Rodriguez’s predictability and one-track mind has just sort of caught up to him at age 25. The opponents are not world class — Sims, 27, didn’t get past the ShoBox stage as a prospect, losing two fights on that series — but they’ve been good enough to make Rodriguez look a lot less like a monster than he has in some of his easier fights.
Sims probably did get some slightly favorable judging here, but at the same time, Rodriguez didn’t have a bunch of rounds where he dominated or anything, either. It’s back to the drawing board for Rodriguez, and we’ll see if he comes out of this better, or if he just is what he is.
- Jose Enrique Vivas UD-8 Louie Coria: I guess there’s at least some outrage over the scores here — 75-74 across the board for Vivas — and ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna tried to light some up on the broadcast, too, but I think the judges got this one right. In fact, I had it a round wider, 76-73 for Vivas. The only round I gave Coria (12-5, 7 KO) was the third, where he got a 10-7 on two knockdowns. Vivas (21-1, 11 KO) was also docked a point in the fourth for low blows. But even if you find a second round for Coria, which isn’t clear anywhere, it’s still 75-74 Vivas, which is what the judges came out with. Vivas controlled the majority of the fight. He definitely was hurt, definitely got dropped twice, but he deserved the win.
I think partly it’s that people love watching Coria, and I include myself in that. He’s a magnificent TV fighter, every fight he has is a war and this one was no different. But he also makes fights tough on himself. It’s not that he can’t move and box more than he does, he just opts not to do that. He’s still really young at 22, but we’re watching a fighter take a lot of punishment in three straight fights now since last June. Hard, hard way to make a living. But he’s a bona fide fan favorite and should be.
- Andres Cortes UD-8 Eduardo Garza: Cortes (14-0, 7 KO) hadn’t fought since last July, and this was roughly a sideways step for him, but important to get going again. Scores were 77-75, 78-74, 79-73. There’s plenty of time for the 23-year-old Cortes to start putting it together still, he’s a solid prospect at 130 right now. Garza falls to 15-4-1 (8 KO).
- Robeisy Ramirez UD-6 Ryan Lee Allen: Ramirez is now 7-1 (4 KO), winning seven straight since his stunning pro debut loss in 2019. He was something of a mixed bag here again; there are a lot of things to love about the Cuban, a former two-time Olympic gold medalist and a truly great, standout fighter at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games, but you usually see things that can give you pause when projecting his future, too, and we got that here. He scored a good knockdown, but Allen (10-5-1, 5 KO) hung around and was competitive in the last few rounds, where Ramirez sort of coasted. It was noted that they’d sparred together before, so maybe Robeisy likes the guy and didn’t want to go the extra gear. It’s entirely possible, because when he put the heat on, Allen couldn’t do anything about it. But Ramirez moves forward. He’s not young young, and with his pedigree you’d expect him to be fighting at least somewhat higher in level right now, but it’s been a learning curve as a pro, too.
- Raymond Muratalla TKO-5 Jose Gallegos: Tim Bradley is an unusually honest prospect scout for an in-house TV commentator, and he absolutely loves Muratalla (12-0, 10 KO). It’s easy to see why, too. Muratalla, a 24-year-old junior welterweight, fights with real aggression, and it’s not dumb recklessness, either. He goes in there to do damage. He works the body extremely well and sets up everything else from there.
- Javier Martinez KO-4 Calvin Metcalf: Metcalf (10-6-1, 3 KO) did his usual job of mostly getting beaten up. He has no power against anyone better than a low-level club fighter, but he can usually be counted on to go rounds even if he takes a beating. Martinez (4-0, 2 KO) has started to show a little more pop the last two fights of his young pro career; at 25, he stayed in the U.S. amateur system more than a real blue chipper would, in all honesty, but he’s a legitimate prospect, a southpaw middleweight with the size to move up in time, and good fundamental skills. He put Metcalf down on a lovely, well-timed right hook, and the referee rightly called it off, Metcalf was gone. It wasn’t a huge shot, but it was perfectly placed on the temple, a nice KO.