Winner of fascinating contest between two undefeated light-welterweights will become boxing’s only current undisputed male world champion
Scotland’s Josh Taylor fights Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas on Saturday night aiming to make history as the first British boxer to unify a division since Ken Buchanan was the undisputed lightweight champion in the 1970s and one of the greats of British boxing.
The bout between Taylor, holder of the IBF and WBA light-welterweight titles with an unblemished 17-0 record, and Ramirez, the WBC and WBO champion unbeaten in 26 fights, pitches two fascinating characters against one another. The winner will become boxing’s only current undisputed male world champion.
Taylor, now trained by Ben Davison, formerly with Tyson Fury, has enjoyed camp in the Mojave Desert, and the Sin City experience has lit a fire in him. “It was pretty damn cool to see my name up in the big lights in Las Vegas, and the first time I saw my face up on the billboard outside the hotel, it was a pinch-me moment” he said.
“It’s a very good feeling knowing all my hard work, dedication and sacrifice has paid off. But I quickly snapped back out of it. I have a job to do, I’m still very focused on what I need to do. I’d like to win the belts and take them back to Scotland and show Ken Buchanan, who told me as a kid that I ‘had it’. It would mean so much, and I believe I have everything to beat Ramirez. I can box him, fight him, go into the trenches, wherever this fight goes.”
Ramirez, who is of Mexican heritage, has been politically active for several years and has been instrumental in highlighting the poverty in California’s Central Valley, where he hails from, an area which provides most of the ‘salad bowl’ produce for the United States.
“It’s been important for me since I worked on the fields as a teenager. Fighting does not define me, the most important things in my life, in this order, are God, my family, and then boxing. Without the first two, I would not be doing this in the sport,” Ramirez told Telegraph Sport this week. “Victory does not define you, its is the struggle and what you give.”
The keys to victory for Taylor, a marginal favourite, are to stay smart early from a southpaw stance, move and counter Ramirez, who is heavily weighted on the front foot, while suppressing his tendency to get involved in a fire-fight until absolutely required.
Ramirez has a very effective jab, goes to the body well and is a volume puncher, but his style could be made for the Scotsman if he and Davison apply the game plan. Taylor may have the better technical know-how, but Ramirez is on a mission. This one could go into the trenches.
Jose Ramirez v Josh Taylor for the undisputed light-welterweight world title streams live in the UK on FITE for £9.99. Live coverage begins at 1.30am BST on Sunday May 23.