Jose Ramirez to Fight Josh Taylor in Junior Welterweight Unification Title Bout

Jose Ramirez is ready to expand his belt collection…

The junior welterweight unification title bout between the 28-year-old Mexican American boxer and Josh Taylor will take place on May 22 at a to be determined Las Vegas venue.

Jose Ramirez

Ramirez, the WBC and WBO champion, and Taylor, the IBF and WBA champion, had initially been planning to fight on May 8, but the fight was moved as to not conflict with the Canelo AlvarezBilly Joe Saunders title fight. Instead, they’ll fight later in the month, headlining a card on ESPN and simulcast on ESPN+.

“This is the best boxing has to offer, two elite fighters in the prime of their careers colliding in a legacy-defining matchup for the undisputed championship of the world,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said in a news release. “It’s a true 50-50 fight, one that the fans and both fighters demanded.”

Ramirez (26-0, 17 KO) last fought in August, winning a majority decision over Viktor Postol in his first defense as both the WBC and WBO titleholder. He has held the WBC belt since March 17, 2018, when he beat Amir Imam and the WBO belt since July 27, 2019, when he TKO‘d Maurice Hooker in the sixth round.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KO) won the IBF title in a May 2019 decision over Ivan Baranchyk and the WBA belt in a majority decision win over Regis Prograis in October 2019. Taylor, 30, last fought in September 2020, knocking out Apinun Khongsong in the first round.

Both Taylor and Ramirez fought as lightweights in the 2012 London Games, each losing in the quarterfinals in a division won by Vasiliy Lomachenko. On the same side of the bracket, they would have met up in the semifinals had they kept winning. Now, they’ll fight to unify a professional world title instead.

Terence Crawford was the last fighter the unify the division, a feat he accomplished in 2017. Crawford then vacated the titles with a move up to 147 pounds.

Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s Next Likely Opponent: George Kambosos Jr.

Teofimo Lopez Jr. has an idea on who his likely next opponent will be.

The 23-year-old Honduran American professional boxer, a lightweight star, is focused on keeping all five of his lightweight titles as he gears up for his next fight.

Teofimo Lopez Jr.

Mandatory IBF challenger George Kambosos Jr. is the front-runner to fight Lopez next, in a bout that would likely take place in the early spring in the United States, sources told ESPN.

Top Rank, which manages Lopez, is in talks with Kambosos’ team on a deal. There was early talk of this fight being in Kambosos’ homeland of Australia, where there could be a larger crowd, but the intention now, according to sources, is for the bout to take place in the U.S. due to COVID-19 restrictions and quarantine requirements in Australia, among other things. New York has been mentioned as an early location option.

Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) became the IBF mandatory challenger after defeating Lee Selby by split decision in October.

Lopez is coming off the biggest win of any boxer in 2020, defeating former ESPN No.1 pound-for-pound fighter Vasiliy Lomachenko in October to win the IBF, WBO, WBA, WBC franchise and The Ring magazine titles. He’s the supreme belt holder in an extremely exciting lightweight division that also features young undefeated stars Ryan Garcia, Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Devin Haney.

 

Lopez told ESPN his ideal plan for 2021 is fighting Haney at lightweight before moving up to the junior welterweight division to face the winner of the May 8 Jose RamirezJosh Taylor undisputed title bout. That could still be in store as the year goes on, but he knows Kambosos is likely next.

“The only thing that is holding it up is my mandatory. I have to pay my respect to that guy. He fought his way up, the same way I had to fight my way up to be IBF lightweight world champion before I got to the point where I fought Vasiliy Lomachenko,” Lopez told ESPN. “I’ll deal with that process first, negotiate, see what happens, and if they agree with all the terms, that will have to be the guy. It’s not because it’s who I want but because it’s my mandatory. A lot of people say I’m ducking a lot of people, but I’m not. I got to go through the process — that’s just part of the game. If things go south, Devin Haney is the next guy, and hopefully we can make that fight happen without him trying to overprice himself.”

“I’m a true champion. I’m not letting go of any of my belts.”

If Kambosos’ team doesn’t agree to a deal this week, the IBF will send a letter for a purse bid Saturday. Approximately a week and a half after the letter is sent, a purse bid would be set to lock in the pay structure of a fight. If Kambosos still doesn’t accept the purse bid deal, Lopez and Top Rank will seek to move on to other, more appealing options.

Coming off a banner year in which he was named Fighter of the Year by multiple outlets, Lopez plans to continue to be in big 50-50 bouts and add to his large collection of titles.

Lopez told ESPN he is at about 70% coming off foot surgery after the Lomachenko fight. He shed a walking boot and has begun running. He plans to get back into the ring by the end of the month and expects to be 100% by his next fight date, which is currently expected to be in late April or May.

Jose Ramirez In Talks to Face Josh Taylor in 140-pound Unification Fight

Jose Ramirez could possibly be fighting the biggest battle of his career in May…

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has reserved the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 8 for a long-awaited 140-pound unification fight between the 28-year-old Mexican American boxer, the WBC and WBO champion, and IBF and WBA champion Josh Taylor (17-0).

Jose Ramirez

Canelo Alvarez will fight WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders — also in Las Vegas — on either May 1 or May 8, sources confirmed to ESPN on Thursday, but the Taylor-Ramirez date will not change, according to Top Rank.

Arum said he’s “looking forward” to having fans in attendance “in accordance with strict standards imposed by the state of Nevada.”

Arum said Taylor is already working on a obtaining a visa and that the purses between the two ex-Olympians will be equal.

“From our side of the table, we are happy moving forward with Taylor-Ramirez,” said Jamie Conlan, vice president of MTK Global, which advises Taylor and also has a relationship with Ramirez’s manager, Rick Mirigian.

Mirigian, however, said deal isn’t yet locked up with his client.

“I’m optimistic, but negotiations continue,” Mirigian said. Another interested party is undisputed lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez, who has said he wants to fight the winner to become the only undisputed four-belt champion at both 135 and 140 pounds.

On Thursday, Arum hosted a lunch at his Beverly Hills home with Golden Boy‘s Oscar De La Hoya and Eric Gomez. Among the subjects discussed was a possible mega fight between Lopez and Garcia.

Garcia’s team was not at the lunch

The idea, according to Arum, was for Lopez to defend against his IBF mandatory challenger, and Garcia to fight Javier Fortuna, then meet in a mega fight.

“It would have to be this year,” Arum said. “Because after that, Teofimo is going up to fight the winner of Taylor-Ramirez.”

Jose Ramirez Defeats Viktor Postol to Retain WBC & WBO Junior Welterweight World Titles

Jose Ramirez is still a titleholder…

The 28-year-old Mexican American boxer has retained his WBC and WBO junior welterweight world titles in a close battle against Viktor Postol.

Jose Ramirez

Postol’s tactical boxing style made Ramirez strategically uncomfortable throughout this weekend’s fight, and neither man ever truly took control of the action.

But, it was Ramirez who ultimately got the majority decision win by the scores of 114-114, 115-113 and 116-112 at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

With the victory, Ramirez kept alive his chances of fully unifying the 140-pound division against Josh Taylor, who holds the WBA and IBF world titles.

Ramirez, a frenetic pressure fighter, was kept at bay for much of the fight by the long reach of Postol, who worked the perimeter of the ring adroitly for long stretches of the fight.

While many of the rounds were close, Ramirez generally appeared the busier fighter. He was able to stun Postol a few times with left hands in the seventh and eighth rounds.

But Ramirez was never truly able to impose his will on the always-composed Postol. Unfortunately for Postol, his game plan wouldn’t be enough to capture the two belts.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this bout had been canceled twice prior. Both fighters had not fought in more than a year.

Ramirez said the long layoff and the crowdless environment affected his performance.

“I went in there a little too cold, you know?” Ramirez said after the fight. “I impressed myself. I’m much stronger than most guys think. I just gotta not lose confidence in myself and stick to what I do best and box, let my hands go and not hesitate too much. I think there was a little bit of hesitation throughout the fight.

“I felt like I was just in a sparring session. I think I could’ve made the fight a lot easier in my favor, but we live and we learn. This was an amazing experience. I’m just happy I got the win.”

Ramirez cleared a significant hurdle in his quest to become the first fighter of Mexican heritage to capture all four major belts in a division.

Ramirez’s attention now turns to September 26, when Taylor faces his IBF mandatory challenger, Apinun Khongsong. A victory by Taylor could set up a title unification bout with Ramirez.

Jose Zepeda Beats Kendo Castaneda by Unanimous Decision to Bolster World Title Hopes

Jose Zepeda has bolstered his world title hopes…

The 31-year-old Mexican American junior welterweight title contender earned a unanimous decision Tuesday night over Kendo Castaneda after easily outpointing his opponent over 10 rounds in a clinical performance inside “The Bubble” at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Convention Center.

Jose Zepeda

Zepeda (32-2, 25 KOs) kept his focus and won by scores of 97-93, 98-92 and 98-92. He was sharp in the early going, boxing out of his southpaw stance as he established his right jab and then alternated planting straight lefts to the body and head of Castaneda (17-2, 8 KOs) — boxing freely at his own pace.

Castaneda was a step behind Zepeda from the start, and he failed to find a consistent answer for Zepeda’s variety of punches with great speed and precision. Castaneda eventually had some moments in the sixth and seventh rounds, but Zepeda quickly reasserted control in the eighth and cruised to victory through the last few rounds.

“I think it was good,” Zepeda said of his performance. “Since he hasn’t been on the big stages, nobody knows anything about him. But today I noticed that he can get hit. He can [take] some punches. It was a good performance, [but] I can do better. Every time the level goes up, I go up, too.”

Zepeda was originally slated to face fellow junior welterweight contender Ivan Baranchyk, who pulled out of the fight due to an injury suffered in training. Zepeda has been angling for a world title fight against one of two fighters who each hold two belts — Jose Ramirez, to whom Zepeda dropped a close split decision loss, or Josh Taylor.

“Like I said before, I have four names in mind — WBC,WBOIBF and WBA,” Zepeda said.

Zepeda challenged for the WBO lightweight title in 2015 and the WBC light welterweight title in 2019. He’s currently ranked as the world’s fourth best active light welterweight by BoxRec, eighth by The Ring and ninth by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

Jose Ramirez’s Bout Against Viktor Postol Could Finally Happen This Summer

The third time could be the charm for Jose Ramirez

The bout between the 27-year-old Mexican American boxer and WBC and IBF junior welterweight champion and mandatory challenger Viktor Postol, twice postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, is now expected to take place this summer, according to Top Rank promoter.

Jose Ramirez,

The fight is expected to take place in the first or second week of August, according to Top Rank, but the date would be contingent on Postol getting into the United States from his native Ukraine, where he’s currently training.

Vadim Kornilov, Postol’s manager, said he’s been trying to expedite Postol’s journey to the U.S.

“We have a reserved ticket for him on Monday. We’ve just been a little bit delayed because of the protests,” Kornilov said, referring to the protests that have been taking place across the U.S. in the aftermath of George Floyd‘s death. “We wanted to see that quiet down before we bring him here to the States. It looks like he’s good to enter with no issues.”

Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) once held the WBC 140-pound title. He typically trains under Freddie Roach in Los Angeles, but all gyms in the city are currently closed.

“We definitely have to wait for restrictions to be taken off as far as the quarantine of the gym and Freddie returning, but in my opinion, that should happen pretty soon,” Kornilov said. “Until then, the plan is for Viktor to just start training at a private gym we can find locally and get back into shape, and then wait for the restrictions to be taken off.”

While Top Rank’s June and July schedule in the States will take place exclusively at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Ramirez’s manager, Rick Mirigian, who has helped market and promote Ramirez into one of the biggest regional draws in the sport in Fresno, California, is hoping to bring this fight to California’s Central Valley.

”I’m preparing options for Top Rank for California, a casino and an arena,” Mirigian said. “I’m going to prepare those options for them to consider.”

Mirigian has had numerous meetings with venues as well as discussions with Andy Foster, the executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission, in the hopes of staging cards with a limited number of spectators. The Save Mart Center in Fresno is Mirigian’s priority, but he declined to disclose what casino he’s also pursued.

“That is the goal — to have some sort of a California audience with the bare minimum. A small ‘studio’ show, which could be Ramirez’s family, some key sponsors, etc. Keep it small,” said Mirigian, who also reiterated that these events would still have social distancing regulations and mandatory masks in the venue.

Ramirez will be relieved just to get back into action and satisfy this fight against his mandatory challenger. If the fight takes place in August, Ramirez will have been out of the ring for more than a year. 

His most recent bout came against Maurice Hooker on July 27, 2019. Since then, he has had his sights set on a fight against Josh Taylor, who has the other two major belts at junior welterweight.

Jose Zepeda to Fight Ivan Baranchyk in July

Jose Zepeda is ready to rumble…

The 31-year-old Mexican American boxer is set to fight Ivan Baranchyk in a 10-round junior welterweight matchup on Thursday, July 9 in Las Vegas, according to ESPN.

Jose Zepeda

Zepeda (31-2, 25 KOs) is a well-schooled southpaw with solid boxing skills. In February 2019, Zepeda lost a disputed majority decision versus WBC titleholder Jose Ramirez in Fresno, California. In his most recent bout, in September, he won a unanimous decision against Jose Pedraza.

Baranchyk, 27, (20-1, 13 KOs), the former IBF junior welterweight titleholder, is coming off a fourth-round stoppage of Gabriel Bracero in October. His lone loss came against Josh Taylor in May 2019 in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series.