A familiar story that most Boxing fans can relate to hearing, especially in today’s era is one where multiple fighters each can hold claim to being a world champion in a given weight class. The subject of unifying a world championship becomes a complicated one when one factors in all the various political elements in the sport, which more often than not can stand in the way of such a goal from being accomplished. There are times however, where all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place where the goal of determining one undisputed world champion is realized.
In regard to the storied 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division, the last time one undisputed champion was determined was nearly two years ago when Terence Crawford successfully completed the unification process by knocking out Julius Indongo to become the one and only champion in the division. As most Boxing fans know, after fully unifying the division, Crawford immediately set his sights on the 147lb. Welterweight division where he currently reigns as the WBO world champion. Crawford’s exit from the Jr. Welterweights quickly set in motion a reset atop the division.
In the time since then four world champions have emerged representing the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO respectively. Coincidentally, all four current champions will be facing each other in the near future. For the purposes of this column, we will be focusing on the first of the two bouts, which will take place on July 27th as undefeated world champions Maurice Hooker and Jose Ramirez will put their respective claims to the Jr. Welterweight championship of the world and undefeated records on the line.
Maurice Hooker will enter as the World Boxing Organization (WBO) world champion. Unbeaten with a record of 26-0-3, with 17 Knockouts, Hooker won the vacant WBO crown in June of last year with a twelve round split decision over former WBO Lightweight world champion Terry Flanagan. Since winning the championship, Hooker has successfully defended his title twice including a twelve round unanimous decision over Mikkel LesPierre in March of this year.
Jose Ramirez will enter as the World Boxing Council (WBC) world champion. Undefeated with a record of 24-0, with 16 Knockouts, Ramirez won the vacant WBC crown in March of last year. Similarly to his opponent, Ramirez has been active since winning the championship and has defended his WBC title successfully including a twelve round majority decision victory in his last fight over Jose Zepeda in February of this year.
On paper, this appears to be a well-matched encounter between two boxer/punchers. Although both men have shown that they can get an opponent out of there if an opportunity presents itself, it is logical to assume that this fight could go the full twelve round distance. In terms of style, both fighters are similar in my view and it will probably boil down to which fighter is able to dictate the pace and execute their fight plan more than their opponent.
What this fight means for the division in the overall picture is the start of an unofficial tournament at 140lbs. as all four champions Maurice Hooker, Jose Ramirez, Regis Prograis, and Josh Taylor will do battle over the coming months in separate unification bouts. With Hooker-Ramirez to unify the WBO and WBC crowns this weekend, it leaves Prograis the WBA champion and Taylor the IBF champion to meet later this year in a fight that will also coincidentally determine a winner in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) season two Jr. Welterweight tournament.
It should also not be overlooked that Hooker-Ramirez also represents a step in the right direction for the sport as Hooker’s promoter Matchroom Boxing and Ramirez’ promoter Top Rank, Inc. are working together to make this fight happen. The landscape of how the sport of Boxing is broadcast and consumed by fans has changed significantly over the last year and it is no secret that both Matchroom Boxing and Top Rank have separate multi-year broadcast deals with competing platforms. Matchroom Boxing with digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN in the United States and several international countries as well as Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, and Top Rank with ESPN in the United States including it’s digital streaming platform ESPN+ and BoxNation in the United Kingdom.
While the main goal for any promoter is to draw the most interest in their cards as possible and to please their respective television partners, it is important not just for the fans who support the sport in both good times and bad, not just for the fighters that compete in the sport, but for the benefit of the sport overall that promoters work together. Not only does collaboration between promoters serve the purpose of unification bouts like Hooker-Ramirez from taking place, which is a benefit to fans who want to see marquee fights, but it also benefits the fighters and the sport overall.
How often have we seen a fighter earn a title shot in a respective sanctioning organization, but either not get the opportunity they earned to face the world champion in a reasonable timeframe or, be forced to agree to terms that may not be to a fighter’s long-term benefit all in the name of Boxing politics? The same question can be asked with regard to unification bouts and how a world championship in a division for one reason or another never seems to stay unified long-term because of the various political elements that surround the sport.
It is indeed true that politics will be remain part of Boxing, but if promoters can show that they can work together with the goal of benefiting the fans, the sport, the fighters, and the additional benefit of helping to grow the sport by doing so, it should be considered a win for Boxing. This of course, is easier said than done because of the various elements of politics involved, but at least it is a step in the right direction.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Hooker vs. Ramirez takes place on Saturday, July 27th at the College Park Center in Arlington, TX. The card can be seen in the United States and several international countries on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 7PM ET/4PM PT (U.S. Time). For more information about DAZN including schedules, availability around the world, list of compatible streaming devices, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland the card can be seen on Sky Sports Main Event (Formerly Sky Sports 1) beginning at 2AM Sunday, July 27th (Local UK Time.) For more information about Sky Sports, schedules, and availability in your area please visit: www.SkySports.com. Check your local listings internationally.
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