Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez targeted for early 2021

By Boxing News - 10/13/2020 - Comments

By Dan Ambrose: Light welterweight champions Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez will be fighting within the first three months of 2021, according to promoter Bob Arum.

The Top Rank head honcho Arum plans on scheduling the Taylor-Ramirez contest during the first quarter of next year, and he says they’ve both agreed that the winner will defend against WBO mandatory Jack Catterall.

Arum is hoping that the Taylor vs. Ramirez fight can occur in front of a live audience of fans by early 2021.

He says he’ll need a vaccine to have been made available by that point for that to happen. That might not happen until the second or third quarter of 2021, and that likely won’t be in time for the Ramirez-Taylor contest.

Will Taylor need a knockout to win?

With the way that Ramirez has been getting continually lucky in winning questionable decisions, Taylor might need to take the judges out of the picture by knocking him out if he wants to win.

WBC/WBO 140lb champion Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) is fortunate to still be a champion after the close call he had defending against his WBC mandatory Viktor Postol on August 29. Many people felt that the 36-year-old Postol (31-3, 12 KOs) did enough to win the fight.

For the popular Fresno, California native Ramirez, that was his second questionable 12 round decision since 2019. Last year, Ramirez beat Jose Zepeda by a 12 round majority decision in Fresno, and boy, did he look bad.

Zepeda took Ramirez to school even more than Postol did, and the scores were incredibly bizarre. Zepeda fought well enough to deserve a victory by at least five rounds in this writer’s view, but the judges had Ramirez, the winner by the scores: 116-112, 115-113 114-114.

Taylor-Ramirez winner faces Catterall

Image: Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez targeted for early 2021

“Jack [Catterall] is a terrific fighter. We’re going to arrange for him to have a fight maybe on that card,” said Arum to Boxing Social about WBO mandatory Catterall to potentially compete on the Taylor vs. Ramirez undercard.

“We’ll see and then fight the [Ramirez-Taylor] winner in s short period of time. Both fighters agreed to that, so it was the sensible thing to do.

The public wants to see these two kings [Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez] fight each other, and then Jack will cash in to fight the winner.

“So that was the prudent thing to do. It was great cooperation on all sides, so I’m grateful for that,” said Arum.

It looks like Arum wants to delay the winner of the Taylor vs. Ramirez fight from moving up to 147 to challenge WBO champion, Terence Crawford. That’s what both Taylor and Ramirez had been talking about.

But now it looks like Arum feels it’s worth it for Taylor or Ramirez to stay around at light-welterweight long enough to defend all four titles against WBO mandatory.

Catterall not a great option

It might interest the British boxing fans in seeing the Ramirez-Taylor winner fight Catterall, but the U.S fans aren’t going to see it as a worthwhile match-up to stay at 140. American boxing fans would rather see Ramirez and Taylor move up to 147 to challenge Crawford for his WBO strap.

The ratings for a fight involving Catterall against Taylor or Ramirez won’t be huge in the U.S. Even if Arum gives Catterall exposure by placing him on Ramirez vs. Taylor’s undercard bout; the fans won’t care too much about the winner facing Catterall.

Image: Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez targeted for early 2021

The problem is, Catterall can’t punch, and he doesn’t have an exciting style that U.S fans like to see. The winner of the unification fight would be better off facing Jose Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs) rather than Catterall.

At least that would be a fight that would promise excitement, and it would interest the American public. Zepeda’s recent match against former IBF 140lb champion Ivan Baranchyk on October 3 was arguably the ‘Fight of the Year’ for 2020. With the performance Zepeda put in, Arum should be pushing to have him challenge the Taylor vs. Ramirez winner.

Who cares about the WBO strap? Vacate the belt and face Zepeda. By doing that, Arum would be in tune with what the U.S boxing public is interested in seeing. Putting the Taylor-Ramirez winner in with little known, light-hitting Catterall would be a tone-deaf move on Arum’s part.

If no one cares about seeing Catterall fight the winner, where’s the gain for Josh and Jose to face him? You might as well forget about that and give the fans what they want in 2020.

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These are different times now. With the pandemic shutting boxing down, it’s more important than ever for the promoters and the fighters to focus on giving the public the fights they care to see.

It’s very, very doubtful that fans in the U.S would care enough to want to watch Taylor or Zepeda fight, Catterall. They’re off fighting Zepeda or moving up to 147 to and try and dethrone Crawford.

Arum wants Ramirez vs. Taylor with a live crowd

Image: Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez targeted for early 2021

“Within the first three months of next year,” said Arum when asked when Taylor and Ramirez will fight for the undisputed 140-lb championship.

“We’re all hoping by then to get a vaccine so that we can do it in front of a big audience. Whether that’s in the UK or the United States remains to be seen. But it’s a big major fight, and we want to do it with a lot of screaming spectators on either side of the Atlantic,” said Arum.

If Arum wants to increase the chances of having a live crowd for the Ramirez vs. Taylor fight, he can do one of two things:

  • Wait until the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2021
  • Stage the fight in Texas

The CDC predicts that the vaccine won’t be ready until the second or third quarter in 2021, which rules out the Taylor-Ramirez fight happening with a crowd. But if the fight is moved to Texas, it’s possible it could take place in front of fans.

Taylor likely will have no fans in Texas, and it could not be easy to sell tickets. Ramirez is from Southern California, and it’s unclear if he can draw fans in the state of Texas.

If Arum were to book the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, he’d be taking a risk. What happens if only a few thousand people show up? If Arum booked the stadium, he would likely be expecting a crowd of 15,000 or more. That would be difficult for a fight involving two guys that aren’t huge stars.

Image: Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez targeted for early 2021

This months’ fight between Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz at the Alamodome is a different story. Davis is very popular nationwide, and Santa Cruz has a lot of fans in Texas. It makes sense for the organizers of that event to stage in front of a live audience in the huge Alamodome stadium, which seats over 70,000.