With much of the Boxing world setting it’s attention on events occurring outside of the ring that are all too often the subject of criticism and ridicule that the sport for the worse and not the better seems to deal with constantly, with the world still dealing with the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic, all attention for one evening was set on the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas, NV for an event that unfortunately is too rare in Boxing. A unification bout to determine one “Undisputed World Champion.”
In this instance, this event, which took place on May 22nd, occurred in the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division. While the history of the division is one that has seen many memorable battles and legendary champions that have been chronicled on more than one occasion by this observer, all the ingredients that make an event of this magnitude special and unfortunately a rarity were present here. Two undefeated world champions, each in their prime and each held in high regard putting their respective portions of the Jr. Welterweight championship of the world on the line to determine one champion. There was also the element of this being what appeared on paper to be an encounter between two evenly matched boxer/punchers in WBC/WBO world champion Jose Ramirez and IBF/WBA world champion Josh Taylor.
As readers may recall in previewing this fight, this observer stated that the scenario that came to my mind in thinking of how this bout could be fought was one that would be a tactical battle due to the similarities of both fighters where the ebb and flow could shift back and forth throughout. Early in the fight, this essentially appeared to be exactly how the fight would be fought with both fighters having periods of success in the same rounds that appeared to indicate that this could be a difficult fight to score if it went the twelve round distance.
An aspect that I perhaps was not expecting that turned out to be a subtle, yet significant difference as the fight progressed was the advantage in hand speed that Taylor was able to use so effectively along with his timing. Ramirez seemed to have trouble navigating a way to get his punches off without having to sustain some form of punishment as he threw those shots. This can be attributed to not only Taylor’s hand speed, but also how effective he was in using angles and his legs to set opportunities up.
One such opportunity occurred in round six when Taylor dropped Ramirez with a perfectly timed counter left hook as he was coming forward that sent Ramirez down to the canvas. Despite appearing hurt, Ramirez to his credit was able to get up and stepped up his aggression. Although much of the story of this fight in this observer’s view became the performance of Josh Taylor as it progressed, Ramirez was very effective when he was able to land offense to Taylor’s body. He was not however, able to sustain an attack to the body for significant periods of time and this in part can be attributed to Taylor being able to avoid getting caught on the ropes or in corners for lengthy periods.
In round seven, Taylor would widen his advantage by scoring his second knockdown of the fight with a short left uppercut coming out of a clinch. While this occurred shortly after Referee Kenny Bayless called for separation, the punch did not occur on the break and was a legal blow that put Ramirez down for a second time. Although this knockdown appeared to my eyes to indicate that Ramirez was in trouble, he was able to pull himself together and survive the round. While some may however, question why the uppercut was a legal punch, it is as elementary a command as exists in Boxing, “Protect yourself at all times.” A slight opening by Ramirez who had put his guard down for only a moment, was all that Taylor needed to take advantage.
By this point in the fight, I felt Taylor was comfortably ahead based largely on having two 10-8 rounds scored in his favor due to the knockdowns in rounds six and seven. In terms of points, two 10-8 rounds is equal to four rounds scored by a margin of 10-9 that does not have knockdowns. Based on this as well as my feeling that Taylor got the better of the action in the first two rounds, I felt he had a lead on the scorecards. Ramirez’ best rounds of the fight in my view were rounds three through five where he was able to land the harder punches of the two in part due to the periodic offense he was able to land to Taylor’s body.
From rounds eight through twelve, the fight appeared to resemble what this observer felt would be the case going in, a closely fought battle where the ebb and flow would turn frequently. Even though Ramirez managed to put together a late rally in the latter stages of the fight, the two knockdowns against him ultimately proved to be the difference as all three judges turned in identical scores of 114-112 in favor of Josh Taylor making him the Undisputed Jr. Welterweight champion of the world. Shortly after the decision was announced, I commented on social media that it was my view that I could not see how the official scoring could be as narrow as it was based largely on the two knockdown rounds in rounds six and seven.
While this was a moot point as I did agree with the judges in terms of who they had winning this fight, unofficially, I had Taylor winning by a slightly wider margin 116-110 based not only on the knockdowns, but the overall success has was able to have over the first half of the fight. The questions regarding the scoring aside, what should not be overlooked is after the fight rather than hearing grievances, both fighters embraced and showed each other the respect they both deserve after taking part in what was a competitive fight, but one where one fighter simply had a better night than the other.
Although it is not out of the realm of possibility that Taylor and Ramirez could meet again in the ring down the road, an interesting possibility that now exists for Taylor could be an encounter with undefeated WBO Welterweight world champion Terence Crawford, the man who previously unified the Jr. Welterweight division before moving up in weight. Obviously, there are two things to consider here in regard to a potential Crawford-Taylor showdown. Firstly, having accomplished what Crawford had down previously, will Taylor be willing to relinquish his undisputed championship to challenge him for his world championship in the 147lb. Welterweight division. Would there be a possibility of the two fighters meeting in between where perhaps both their world championships would be at stake, a rarity that is even more rare than an undisputed world championship bout.
The second thing to consider if Josh Taylor is intent on staying at 140lbs. is usually after a weight class is fully unified, Boxing’s respectful sanctioning organizations normal have mandatory title dense obligations lined up on a rotating annual basis. It will be interesting to see if one such mandatory defense whether it be against the top contender in the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), the International Boxing Federation (IBF), and World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) respective ratings would take place before a potential showdown with Crawford.
After emerging as a unified world champion in winning the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Jr. Welterweight tournament in 2019, and successfully unifying the Jr. Welterweight championship of the world to become an undisputed world champion by defeating Jose Ramirez, the sky may indeed be the limit for Josh Taylor. No matter what he does next, lucrative opportunities are surely to follow.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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