Ramirez vs Taylor preview: What boxing should be
SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 21, 2021 – When casual boxing fans ask, “Hey, are there any good fights this weekend?” or “Should I cough up the money for this pay per view?” those among us who follow the sport reply with limited enthusiasm. We want people to enjoy boxing as much as we do, but we want them to watch something truly representative of the best boxing has to offer.
Ask me this weekend. My reply is an enthusiastic YES in all capital letters without hesitation – and no PPV money involved.
WBC/WBO junior welterweight Jose Ramirez of Fresno, California (25-0, 17 KOs) and WBA/IBF world champion Josh Taylor of Scotland (17-, 13 KOs) fight to become the undisputed champion in their division in a true 50-50 fight.
Spend the money you’re saving on beverages and betting, and settle in early for this card on ESPN, ESPN+, and ESPN Deportes. The main card begins at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT, with undercards on ESPN+ at 4:45 pm ET/1:45 pm.
Fight of the Year candidate between deserving champions
Ramirez and Taylor are both former Olympians who’ve faced down excellent opposition and never lost as pros. They’re skilled, aggressive, and motivated. They’re good people outside the ring and proud representatives of their respective nations and cultures. They even got into some healthy trash talk with Saturday’s fight approaching. They’re starting to get under each other’s skin at just the right time. Oddsmakers have it close and so do boxing experts who are hard-pressed to choose either man.
Taylor got the world’s attention when he took Ivan Baranchyk’s title, then sealed his reputation when he won the World Boxing Super Series in a hard-fought decision win over American Regis Prograis. If he wins Saturday, he will be the first unified and undisputed champion from Scotland since Ken Buchanan in the early 1970s. It might be the biggest moment in sports for Scotland since Andy Murray won Wimbledon.
Ramirez grew up and still lives in California’s Central Valley among immigrant Mexican agricultural workers and worked in those fields once himself. He’s packed the Save Mart Arena in out-of-the-way Fresno in front of his community. His big wins came against a then-undefeated Antonio Orozco, title victory over Maurice Hooker, and his August defense over a tricky Viktor Postol. After Saturday’s fight, Ramirez’s fight-worn Cleto Reyes gloves, and an autographed poster will be auctioned off with proceeds going toward his list of supported causes: The V Foundation for Cancer Research and The Bautista Foundation, which funds community, education, and health programs in the Central Valley.
The pair are evenly matched in multiple ways. Physically they’re nearly identical. Both have all the basic boxing skills with plenty of power to spare. They’re active, accurate punchers. Both are in excellent condition and fight with all the aggression and heart you could ask for. Both are in their prime, fighting at the right time. Both have what it takes to win.
Taylor gets the slight edge due to his versatility. He’s willing to back off and box, although he’s game for a brawl as he showed with Prograis. Ramirez comes right at his opponents to press the action in typical Mexican style. Ramirez can be hit, and in his recent bout against Postol, the awkward Ukrainian had success against Ramirez.
Ramirez brushes off his rough and ready reputation, pointing to his strong amateur record as proof he knows how to box and win without relying only on power and pressure. But make no mistake, power and pressure are Ramirez’s calling cards. His warrior mentality will tell him to attack Taylor, not giving him a second to breathe or space to work.
Prediction: Ramirez by late-round TKO
Taylor may have more ways to win, but you only need one to get the victory. Which one? If Ramirez forces his will on Taylor, makes him engage, and roughs him up, The Jaguar can rattle the Tartan Tornado’s cage. There won’t be many fans at the Virgin Hotel, but they will mostly be cheering for Ramirez due to UK travel restrictions. He feeds off a crowd, and if he needs a shot of energy, they will give it to him.
Great boxers have skills, but the greatest boxers have heart. In a tough, close fight, heart pushes a champion through the later rounds to win. Taylor should win the early rounds until Ramirez finds a way to move in on him and force him into a fight. Taylor won’t be able to resist. When the action fires up, Ramirez will call on his stamina and heart to overcome Taylor. He will deploy the same attack as he did against Antonio Orozco, a somewhat forgotten gem of a fight.
Forget the Postol fight. Ramirez vs Postol was the first professional sporting event canceled due to COVID in early February 2020. Ramirez overtrained during stop and start training camps until he fought Postol in August and said later he was physically and mentally exhausted. Taylor may be more versatile than Postol, but Postol is trickier than Taylor. Ramirez will succeed in wearing Taylor down, forcing a late-round stoppage by referee Kenny Bayliss.
No matter who prevails, fans will be treated to boxing at its best. No delays, no drama. We can hope for a rematch and perhaps even a trilogy of fights.
Undercard lineup: Jose Zepeda and Elvis Rodriguez return
Jose “Chon” Zepeda’s last fight was the wild 2020 Fight of the Year against Ivan Baranchyk. The junior welterweight’s original opponent dropped out and was replaced by “Hammerin” Hank Lundy of Philadelphia. Lundy (31-8-1, 14 KOs) made the most of his brief lead time before the fight. He’s an entertaining interview with an unshakeable belief in Hank Lundy, but the veteran will face a buzzsaw in Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs).
Impressive young junior welterweight Elvis Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic (11-0-1, 10 KOs) takes on solid opponent Kenneth Sims Jr. of Chicago (15-2-1, 5 KOs) in a scheduled eight-round bout. Don’t delay getting in your seat. Rodriguez has a flair for the dramatic like countryman Fernando Tatis Jr. Sims Jr. hasn’t ever been stopped, but his lack of power should embolden Rodriguez to start a new knockout streak. He’s promised to bring out his air guitar if he wins.
Appearing on the ESPN+ undercard:
Raymond Muratalla of Fontana (11-0, 9 KOs) takes on Jose Gallegos of Bakersfield (20-10, 15 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight bout.
Undefeated Las Vegas lightweight Andres Cortes (13-0, 7 KOs) faces Eduardo Garza (15-3-1, 8 KOs) of Mission, Texas.
Middleweight prospect Javier Martinez of Milwaukee (3-0, 1 KO) faces Calvin Metcalf of Kansas City (10-5-1, 3 KOs).
Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez now training in Florida (6-1, 4 KOs) works on his rise through the pro ranks against Ryan Lee Allen of Las Vegas (10-4-1, 5 KOs) in a scheduled six-round featherweight bout.
It will be a busy night for trainers Robert Garcia, who trains Jose Ramirez, Muratalla, and Javier Martinez, and Freddie Roach, who trains Zepeda and Elvis Rodriguez.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Copyright © 2021 by Communities Digital News