Someone will leave Las Vegas as the unified super lightweight champion on Saturday night after Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez battle for all four major belts in the weight class.
Taylor holds the IBF and WBA belts at 140 pounds, while Ramirez holds the WBC and WBO titles.
Few undisputed champions in modern boxing
That means the winner will be the clear, established champion at super lightweight, something that’s been difficult to say in the four-belt era. Since the WBO established itself in 1988, only a handful of boxers have actually won all four belts in any weight class at the same time. Promotional politics make that even more difficult, as the potential breakdown of the Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua heavyweight unifier earlier this week proved yet again.
That makes the Taylor vs. Ramirez fight a rarity in boxing: a clear challenge for supremacy in a weight class.
Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) comes into the fight as the -265 favorite, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Scotsman comes into the fight as the away fighter, but says he’s not bothered by the fact that all three judges are Americans.
“I don’t feel I need to knock him out,” Taylor said to BoxingScene.com. “If I make it clear that I’m outboxing him, I’m making him miss, I’m making him look silly, I’m totally outclassing him, then there should be absolutely no questions asked who wins the fight.”
Meanwhile, the Mexican-American Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) enters the bout as the clear underdog. DraftKings has posted him at +188. Ramirez acknowledges that Taylor is a great champion, but says he has what it takes to dethrone him.
“On paper, yes,” Ramirez told The Guardian, on whether Taylor was his toughest opponent yet. “But I don’t feel like he has faced an opponent like me. He had a great fight against Regis Prograis. But if Prograis had been in better shape, he would have won. I am fitter and stronger than Prograis.”
Ramirez, Taylor trade barbs
In the lead-up to the fight, the two men ratcheted up the rhetoric. While Ramirez is famously mild-mannered, he still had plenty to say about Taylor’s character.
“He’s someone that, no matter what he accomplishes in life, he’s a terrible guy,” Ramirez told BoxingScene.com. “I could tell by the words he uses. If he’s willing to disrespect a guy that has made it this far, you know, I’m sure this guy is willing to disrespect any other guy.”
|Ramirez vs. Taylor Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
|Jose Ramirez: +188
|Josh Taylor: -265
|Method of Victory
|Ramirez by KO/TKO: +550
|Taylor by KO/TKO: +350
|Ramirez by Decision: +250
|Taylor by Decision: -118
Taylor is no stranger to controversy. He’s made homophobic and racist comments in the past, and spoke out against COVID-19 lockdowns last year. At the prefight press conference, Taylor went after his opponent’s health, suggesting Ramirez had trouble making the 140-pound weight limit.
“You don’t look well,” Taylor said. “You’re dry as f—. It’s like a peanut. It’s gonna be dry. I am going to belt it all over the place.”
The Ramirez vs. Taylor bout tops a three-fight card at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, all three of which feature super lightweight fighters.