Jose Ramirez can move one step closer to reclaiming a world championship on Friday night, but he’ll need to get past a strong opponent with title ambitions of his own in Jose Pedraza.
Both men are among the elite in boxing’s super lightweight division, and each has been to the top of the mountain at other times in their respective careers.
Ramirez rues close loss to Taylor
Ramirez (26-1, 17 KOs) was once the unified king of the division, an undefeated fighter who had taken the WBC and WBO titles. But Josh Taylor beat him in a close decision after knocking down Ramirez twice during the fight last May.
A loss against Taylor wasn’t enough to remove Ramirez from the title picture. He needs a win to bounce back to a championship bout.
“My fight with Taylor was close, and if I didn’t get knocked down, I know I would have won,” Ramirez told The Ring. “I want a rematch, but I want to earn that rematch. This is the start.”
Pedraza (29-3, 14 KOs) doesn’t hold quite the pedigree that Ramirez has at 140 pounds. However, he has previously held titles at lightweight and super featherweight, and has emerged as a top-10 contender in the super lightweight division following a three-fight winning streak dating back to 2020. With a win over Ramirez, Pedraza can make his own claim for a title shot.
“March 4 against Ramirez will be a very important fight, since the winner will be ready to challenge for a world title,” Pedraza said, via BoxingScene.com. “That’s why I feel like this is a world title match. March 4 against Ramirez, this is all or nothing.”
Former champions promising ‘great’ fight
Given Ramirez’s stellar record at 140 pounds, he stands out as a clear favorite in this fight. FanDuel Sportsbook lists him as a -600 pick over Pedraza (+390), a line befitting someone with only one close loss on his resume.
In addition, Pedraza is recovering from a bout of COVID-19, though he says it won’t impact him on Friday.
“I definitely recovered 100 percent,” Pedraza told reporters. “If that wasn’t the case you wouldn’t be seeing me facing Jose Ramirez in this great fight.”
Ramirez appears to want Pedraza at his very best. The Mexican-American says he’s trying to face the highest level of competition possible, and that this fight is no exception.
“My goal is to stay at the highest level of competition. My goal is to become a world champion again,” Ramirez said at the final pre-fight press conference. “You have to fight the best to be ready for those fights. I don’t want any easy fights. I don’t want to be fighting fights that are going to be tune up fights.”