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.

Triller to Promote Teofimo Lopez’s Next Fight

Teofimo Lopez is looking to trill in his next fight…

Triller has just thrown its name into the ring to promote the next fight of the 23-year-old Honduran American boxer, one of the sport’s rising stars.

Teofimo Lopez Jr.

The upstart tech company won the rights to promote Lopez’s lightweight title defense against George Kambosos with a bid of more than $6 million, a source told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

Triller, which was founded in 2015, beat out established boxing outfits like Matchroom and Top Rank, Lopez’s current promoter, in a purse bid hosted by the IBF on Thursday.

The rights to promote Lopez’s mandatory defense hit the open market after Lopez and Top Rank failed to reach an agreement on a purse. Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) became the unified lightweight champion after beating Vasiliy Lomachenko in October 2020 to win the IBF, WBA and WBO belts in the 135-pound division.

“I love ESPN and the platform and everything they have done for Team Lopez and The Takeover. However, I am very thankful that my team and I stuck to our guns,” Lopez said in a statement to ESPN’s Mark Kriegel. “We knew what we were being offered was disrespectful, and we expected the open market would value us differently. And it showed today. The $6 million from Triller, right there, says that Top Rank doesn’t value the best fighter on their roster. I look forward to my title defense against George Kambosos. Stay tuned for the fight date.”

Triller made headlines when it promoted the exhibition bout between former heavyweight champions Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr as a pay-per-view attraction. According to reports, the fight generated more than 1.6 million buys.

Because of the IBF’s purse-split rules that give the champion 65%, Lopez’s share will be just under $4 million. Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) is set to receive $2.1 million in his third fight in the United States. The Australian is coming off a split-decision victory over Lee Selby last October in London.

Ryan Kavanaugh, the CEO of Proxima Media, the company that owns Triller, said that Lopez vs. Kambosos will “probably be a co-main event” on a Triller card in May paired with an “influencer-celebrity-type event.”

“We don’t view them as an undercard. It’s just a matter if we have a co-main [event] that brings a different audience than them or not,” he said.

Kavanaugh said Triller would be open to bid for more fights in the future.

“If it’s an attractive purse bid like this where it’s for a significant title with well-known talent and people that we think will attract the right audience, then absolutely,” he said.

Top Rank president Todd duBoef said the agreement means “at the end of the day, everybody wins.”

“If Teofimo comes out successful and has a successful defense against Kambosos, terrific,” he said. “If they do a bunch of promotion and he gets bigger on the social platform, terrific and we have a long career together going forward.”

Oscar Valdez Scores Knockout of the Year Against Miguel Berchelt to Claim WBC Junior Lightweight Title

Oscar Valdez has scored the knockout of the year…

The 30-year-old Mexican boxer, a former WBO featherweight titleholder and a two-time Olympian, took down Miguel Berchelt at the MGM Grand on Saturday night to claim the WBC junior lightweight title.

Oscar Valdez

Valdez’s upset win came after he rocked Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) with a left hook in the final second of the 10th round in an immediate favorite for knockout of the year.

Many expected Saturday’s fight between Berchelt and Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs)

to be a back-and-forth bout between two Mexican fighters. But, the violence was mostly one-sided.

Oscar Valdez

“There’s nothing better in life than proving people wrong,” said Valdez, who entered the fight as a plus-240 underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. “I have a list of people who doubted me. My idols doubted me. Boxing analysts doubted me. They said Berchelt was going to knock me out. I have a message to everybody: Don’t’ let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.

Berchelt, whose only other professional loss came via TKO in 2014, remained on his back on the canvas for several minutes but was eventually able to sit and stand with assistance.

He was taken to a hospital afterward, and Top Rank president Todd DuBoef told ESPN that he underwent a CT scan that came back clear. Berchelt was expected to be released from the hospital Saturday night.

The stunning walk-off shot might have overshadowed the fact the much smaller Valdez dominated the fight. He scored knockdowns in the fourth and 10th rounds and was well ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the finish.

Judges had Valdez, who was born in Mexico but grew up in Arizona, ahead by scores of 89-80, 88-81 and 87-82.

“Oscar Valdez proved he is one of the great Mexican champions,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. “An absolute masterpiece in the ring tonight.”

Valdez outlanded Berchelt 149-99 in total punches and 103-64 in power punches, according to CompuBox.

The victory, which is Valdez’s third consecutive appearance at 130 pounds, could set up a junior lightweight title fight between Valdez and Top Rank’s Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs), who was in attendance inside the “bubble” on Saturday and has expressed interest in taking on Valdez. Top Rank president Todd DuBoef said he would love to set up a fight between the two undefeated junior lightweights.

“I want to take this belt home, and I’m happy for that. Any champion out there … I heard Shakur Stevenson wants to fight,” Valdez said. “Let’s do it. I just want to keep on fighting and give the fans what they want.”

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.”

Miguel Berchelt’s WBC Super Featherweight Championship Bout Against Oscar Valdez Rebooked for February

It could be a February to remember for Miguel Berchelt

The 29-year-old Mexican professional boxer will face off against Oscar Valdez in a rebooked WBC super featherweight championship fight on February 20, Top Rank president Todd duBoef has revealed.

Miguel Berchelt

The championship fight was originally supposed to take place on December 12 but was postponed when Berchelt tested positive for COVID-19 in November. According to duBoef, the event will air on ESPN.

Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) will be seeking his seventh 130-pound WBC title defense. His most recent defense came against Jason Sosa via knockout in November 2019. Officially, he has finished 15 of his past 16 opponents.

Undefeated Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs), a former featherweight champion, is coming off a knockout non-title win over Jayson Velez in July.

Berchelt and Valdez both were born in Mexico. Valdez is currently training out of San Diego.

Felix Verdejo to Fight Masayoshi Nakatani in December

Felix Verdejo will be returning to the ring next month…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer and lightweight contender will fight Masayoshi Nakatani on December 12, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti has told The Athletic.

Felix Verdejo

The fight will be the co-main event of a Top Rank card at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

Verdejo (27-1, 17 KOs) was injured in a motorcycle accident in August 2016 but returned to the ring six months later and has a record of 5-1 since then, including an impressive first-round TKO victory over Will Madera in July.

Japan’s Nakatani (18-1, 12 KOs) made his U.S. debut in July 2019 and was the first fighter to take Teofimo Lopez the distance, losing a hard-fought unanimous decision at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Top Rank is still looking for a replacement main event after Miguel Berchelt tested positive for COVID-19 and his fight against Oscar Valdez was postponed.

Former featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson offered to step in for Berchelt and told ESPN on Tuesday that he had asked his team to inquire about the possibility of fighting Valdez on short notice.

Jose Ramirez Likely to Defend Title Against Viktor Postol in August

Could the third time be the charm for Jose Ramirez’s challenge bout?

A fight between the 27-year-old Mexican American unified WBC and WBO light welterweight titleholder and Viktor Postol, his WBC mandatory challenger, will take place the last week of August, according to Top Rank president Todd duBoef

Jose Ramirez,

The bout will be broadcast live on an ESPN network.

There’s no exact date yet for the fight, according to duBoef, but Top Rank is working with the sports network to add the bout to its programming calendar.

“We’re being as flexible as possible with ESPN,” duBoef said. “They’re going to see how the NBA schedule comes out, the MLB schedule, all the other sports that are supposed to be back in August. They’re formulating their schedule.

“We’re basically telling [fighters], ‘Hey, you’ll be this week in August. You’ll be this week in August.’ Then we’re honing in on a date.”

Ramirez-Postol was originally scheduled for February 1 in China, and then May 9 in Fresno, California. Both times the fight was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ramirez last fought on July 27, 2019, when he stopped Maurice Hooker in six rounds to unify the WBC and WBO junior welterweight titles. 

Postol, who once held the WBC 140-pound belt, last fought on April 27, 2019, scoring a 10-round unanimous decision over Mohamed Mimoune.

Eleider Alvarez’s Bout Against Joe Smith Jr. Rescheduled for Late August

Eleider Alvarez will have to wait a little longer to return to the ring…

The light heavyweight bout between the 36-year-old Colombian professional boxer and Joe Smith Jr. has been rescheduled for the third week of August, according to Alvarez’s promoter Yvon Michel

Eleider Alvarez

The fight had originally been scheduled for July 16 inside the “bubble” at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, but was postponed when Alvarez suffered an injury to his right shoulder.

“I sent a medical report on Alvarez’s situation early last week confirming that the inflammation is gone after treatment, the pain is minimum,” Michel said. “He’s going to start sparring next week, everything is under control. He’s fit and ready to fight by mid-August.

“So the message I got from Top Rank is that the fight will be rescheduled for some time between August 20 and August 22, depending on the schedule.”

According to Top Rank vice president of boxing operation Carl Moretti, the plan is to stage one fight a week inside the “bubble” in the month of August, but the exact dates of haven’t been chosen.

“It’s not ideal, it’s not what we wanted,” said Joe DeGuardia, who promotes Smith. “We think it’s unfortunate it got pushed back in the first place, however, we’re realists. I just want this fight to take place, and we’re going to do what we have to do to get Joe ready and have this fight.”

Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) is rated at No. 6 by ESPN and held the WBO light heavyweight title after knocking out Sergey Kovalev in 2018. Back on January 18 he scored a seventh-round knockout of Micheal Seals. Alvarez also has victories over Isaac ChilembaLucien Bute and Jean Pascal.

Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) is rated ninth in the division by ESPN. Back in 2016 he gained prominence as he scored stoppage wins over Andrezej Fonfara and Bernard Hopkins. In his most recent fight on January 11, Smith defeated Jesse Hart in an upset by split decision.

The winner of this bout will then face the winner of the contest between Umar Salamov and Maksim Vlasov, as part of an elimination process to fill the WBO light heavyweight title, which is currently vacant.

Top Rank Eyes October 3 Fight Date for Teofimo Lopez Jr. vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko

The biggest fight of Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s career could be happening soon…

The lightweight unification title fight between the 22-year-old Honduran-American professional boxer, who has held the IBF lightweight title since 2019 and Vasiliy Lomachenko might now take place on October 3 in Las Vegas, Top Rank president Todd duBoef confirmed to ESPN.

Teofimo Lopez

Recently, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum suggested September 19 as a potential date for the fight, after a spring date was moved because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

DuBoef said “it’s still too early to determine everything” regarding the bout and that he is uncertain as to whether it will be closed to the public.

“I’m not sure that fight happens with fans,” duBoef told ESPN.

Top Rank, which promotes Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs), has held several cards inside an enclosed area at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. DuBoef said the fight could be a potential pay-per-view bout at the MGM.

Arum told Boxingscene.com he is hopeful to have perhaps 2,000 to 2,500 people in attendance. But those plans could be altered as the pandemic worsens around the United States.

Like many other states, Nevada is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases. According to the most recent numbers posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state has seen an increase of 5,889 cases over the past seven days, which is nearly a quarter of the state’s total cases since the pandemic started.

The October 3 date was originally reserved for the third bout between heavyweights Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, duBoef told ESPN. That was pushed to December 19, leaving a potential PPV slot available.

Lomachenko is ESPN’s top pound-for-pound fighter, while Lopez won the IBF’s lightweight belt in December, when he stopped Richard Commey in the second round for his first major professional championship.