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Jose Ramirez wants Maurice Hooker or Ivan Baranchyk unification fight

Latest ESPN JOSE RAMÍREZ Matchroom Boxing USA Maurice Hooker top rank

By Mike Smith: Unbeaten WBC light welterweight champion Jose Carlos Ramirez (24-0, 16 KOs) wants to unify the 140 lb division by facing either WBC champion Maurice Hooker (26-0-3, 17 KOs) or IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk (19-0,12 KOs) next if possible, and then move up to welterweight to go after the big fights in that weight class.


Hooker, 29, is the first target for Ramirez, who he sees as an excellent money fight for him. The unbeaten Hooker is with DAZN, and Ramirez, 26, feels there will be a lot of money behind a fight between them if it can get made. If Ramirez’s promoters at Top Rank Boxing are unable to setup a fight between him and Hooker, then he wants to face IBF champion Baranchyk as his Plan-B option.

“I told my manager it’s time to unify,” Jose Carlos Ramirez said to Thaboxingvoice. “It’s time to go after the other belts, and then hopefully move up to the welterweight division and enjoy that action at 147. If I’m going to go in that ring, I want to perform against the best. I want to be motivated by being in there with another title I can possibly win. There are two names that are possible, Ivan [Baranchyk] and Maurice Hooker. Ivan, I think has dropped out [of the World Boxing Super Series tournament]. He made it official,” Ramirez said.

If Ramirez can unify the light welterweight division by beating at least one of the champions, then he’ll likely move up to welterweight and go after a title shot against WBO 147 lb champion Terence Crawford in 2020. Like Ramirez, Crawford is promoted by Top Rank. Making a fight between them will be easy once Ramirez moves up to welterweight.


There are a lot of ifs involved in Ramirez getting Baranchyk or Hooker unification fight this year. Although Baranchyk is supposedly out of the World Boxing Super Series tournament, we don’t know for a fact that’s the case. If the WBSS is able to keep Baranchyk in the tournament, then his next fight will be against unbeaten Josh Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs) on May 18 at The SSE Hydro, in Glasgow, Scotland. Hooker fights on DAZN, and it’s debatable whether Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn would allow him to cross the street to fight on ESPN in a unification match against the 2012 U.S Olympian Jose Ramirez. Hearn said recently he wouldn’t stand in the way of WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol fighting Sergey Kovalev on ESPN. It’s unclear if Hearn would extend the same freedom to Hooker, who isn’t seen as the next big star in the 140 lb division. Bivol is a major talent. It’s understandable why Hearn would want to keep Bivol happy. Hooker is a belt holder only, and he’s not someone that is viewed as the best light welterweight or even the third best. Top Rank probably won’t allow Ramirez to fight on DAZN. That’s a given that they would likely not let that happen. Unfortunately, Baranchyk might be the best option for Ramirez while the WBSS tournament is still underway, as long as he’s really out of the tourney. Baranchyk has the youth, power and high work rate to give Ramirez a lot of problems.

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“The fight that people want to see is Maurice Hooker,” Ramirez said. “If we can’t make that happen, then we’ll likely make it happen with Ivan. He’s also promoted by Eddie Hearn. It’ll be another big fight with Maurice Hooker. Financially as well. Maurice Hooker has a network behind him in DAZN. It depends on how we structure it. If that fight doesn’t happen, then I think Ivan will be open and he has a title. We got to see how Prograis and Taylor come out of the tournament, and Relikh. We have to see what happens. They have to take care of their business,” Ramirez said.

The fight that boxing public wants to see isn’t Ramirez vs. Hooker. It’s Ramirez vs. Regis Prograis. The New Orleans native is considered to be the best fighter in the light welterweight division right now in the view of a lot of boxing fans. That’ll more or less be proven if Prograis wins the WBSS tourney. Of course, the tournament won’t be the same if Baranchyk drops out, as he’s someone that would potentially meet up with Prograis in the final of the WBSS tournament if they both win their next fights in the semifinal.

“He hasn’t faced me to say that,” Ramirez said about boxing fans think that Prograis is the guy to beat at 140. “It’s not a fact. It’s an assumption [that Prograis is better than him]. I can’t wait to go back in the gym. Hopefully in eight to ten weeks I’ll be back in the ring. That could be as early as July, I’ll be back in the ring or September. I’m on track for three fights this year. If I do one in July, then I could do one at the end of the year. It’ll be my third fight with Robert [Garcia],” Ramirez said.

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The general assumption that many boxing fans have is Ramirez ducked the fight with Regis Prograis (23-0, 19 KOs) after Regis beat Julius Indongo by a 2nd round knockout last year in March to win the interim WBC 140 lb title. Prograis wanted to fight Ramirez last year, but when Top Rank started talking about wanting to let the fight marinate, Regis gave up on that idea and chose instead to enter the World Boxing Super Series tournament to have a chance of winning the IBF and WBA 140 lb titles. That dream of winning both titles has taken a potential hit. If IBF light welterweight champion Baranchyk pulls out of the WBSS tournament, then the only title that Prograis will have a chance of winning is the WBA title that is held by Kiryl Relikh. That’s better than nothing obviously, but Prograis probably wouldn’t have entered the WBSS tourney if he could have foreseen the problems the problems the tourney is having. As long as Top Rank didn’t have Ramirez milk his WBC 140 lb title into infinity, Prograis would have been better off staying out of the WBSS tournament and instead waiting for the WBC to order the Ramirez-Prograis fight.

Ramirez is coming off of a controversial 12 round majority decision win last month against Jose Zepeda (30-2, 25 KOs) on February 10 at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California. The scores were 116-112, 115-113 for Ramirez and 114-114. A lot of boxing fans thought Zepeda deserved the win in that fight. It was so close that you can argue that Zepeda deserved the victory by a couple of rounds. A rematch would have been a great idea, but Ramirez and his promoters at Top Rank have shown zero interest making that fight again with Zepeda. Without the World Boxing Council ordering the rematch, then there’s nothing much the fans or Zepeda can say about it.

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