Scotland Forever: Josh Taylor makes boxing history as undisputed champion
SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 22, 2021 – For only the sixth time in the modern four-belt era, WBA/IBF world champion Josh Taylor of Scotland (18-0, 13 KOs) delivered a definitive decision victory, including two knockdowns over Jose Ramirez of Fresno, California (25-1, 17 KOs), adding Ramirez’s WBC/WBO titles to become the undisputed junior welterweight champion. Scorecards all read 114-112 for Taylor, with the two knockdowns making the difference in the fight.
Taylor is not the first unified and undisputed champion from Scotland since Ken Buchanan in the early 1970s and the first to win all four belts. It might be the biggest moment in sports for Scotland since Andy Murray won Wimbledon.
A gleeful Taylor hoisted all the belts, saying,
“Listen, I’m ecstatic. I trained my whole life for this. I’m so, so happy. I’m over the moon, man! Mum, Dad, French, Danielle, I told you I would do it!” said Taylor.
Speaking to Buchanan watching at home in Scotland, Taylor said,
“I’m just like you champ, I’ve done it just like you,” said Taylor to Buchanan watching at home. “I’ll see you when I get home. You gave me so much inspiration.”
Taylor: ‘A new warrior king on the map’
Taylor and Ramirez delivered a thrilling, all-action fight through the first five rounds, solidly on the Californian’s turf. Ramirez made it rough and had success working to the body of Taylor. He was leading on all three scorecards, and it looked as if he might roll to the victory.
At the start of the sixth, Taylor shifted the momentum with a massive left uppercut, dropping Ramirez hard to the canvas barely out of his corner. Ramirez rose on wobbly legs. Only his excellent conditioning helped him make it to the end of the round.
The crowd chanted “Jose, Jose” in support. The left hook was working for Taylor thanks to his speed. Ramirez couldn’t pick them off. (3-3 with a KD for Taylor). Trainer Robert Garcia later said Ramirez made a mistake but saw Taylor getting worn down in the fight.
As the second half of the fight opened, both men showed the effects of the blistering pace of the first six rounds and the tension of the high stakes involved.
Taylor’s hand speed was serving him well. Ramirez continued to go to the body of Taylor, knowing it would pay off – as long as he didn’t get caught again.
But Ramirez did get caught again, by a dramatic uppercut with seconds left in the round. Taylor gave himself just enough space to land the left hand. Ramirez was fortunate it happened at the end of the round, surviving to the bell as Taylor blasted away. It turned out to be the margin of victory. Ignore any conspiracy theories about referee Kenny Bayliss holding Ramirez back when Taylor hit him. Replays show Bayliss well clear of both men at the time.
“I thought it was a great performance,” said Taylor. “I thought the scorecards were a little bit tight. Two knockdowns and I won most of the rounds. That’s a bit too close for my liking.”
Later as he spoke to the media, Taylor was more emphatic, calling the cards “an absolute farce.”
In Ramirez’s corner, trainer Garcia said, “You’re not done, you’re not done. You’ve got to move. You’ve got to hold on.” Ramirez kept himself in the fight, but he needed a knockout for a win, something he hadn’t ever done in his professional career. Ramirez is a proud champion, and he gave it was he had left, but the body language of both fighters made it clear who was in charge, and it was Taylor.
Ramirez: ‘Disappointment of a competitor’
After the fight, Ramirez told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, “It was an overall good fight. I hope I get back, learn from my mistakes. You win some, you lose some. There were times I couldn’t capitalize. It came down to the clinches, he let his hands go when he had a chance … I was trying to counter. I should have used more feints to make him commit.
“It’s the disappointment of a competitor, not a sore loser. I’m disappointed I lost, but not that I made it this far,” said Ramirez.
Trainer Garcia said of his fighter, “I think he showed he’s up there too. Taylor got the win, and we congratulate him. He earned it. He made history.” Garcia said Ramirez doesn’t struggle to make 140 pounds and isn’t likely to move to welterweight.
Taylor will celebrate with the small entourage who came to Las Vegas with him, but the real party will take place back home. Taylor didn’t make any predictions about his boxing future, saying only, “Listen, there’s a new warrior king on the map, and he’s from bonnie Scotland. Anybody who wants to fight, let’s go!”
Everyone in the boxing world wins when top talent at the peak of their skills test themselves. Ramirez leaves with the loss, but with plenty of respect, including from Taylor and his team, who apologized to Ramirez for the trash talk and the head games from the week leading up to the fight. If there’s any justice, ESPN’s ratings will reflect the stakes and the excellence on display Saturday.
Jose Zepeda wins by disappointing decision over Hank Lundy
Based on his lackluster performance, Jose “Chon” Zepeda seemed to still need recovery time from his wild 2020 Fight of the Year against Ivan Baranchyk. The Zepeda buzzsaw never materialized but did enough to get the decision against veteran Philly fighter “Hammerin Hank” Lundy (31-9-1, 14 KOs). Scorecards all read 98 – 92.
Zepeda (34-2. 26 KOs) didn’t look like the same man against Lundy as he did against Baranchyk in a thrill-a-minute fight. Lundy took the fight on just 10 days’ notice. He brought a veteran’s attitude and gave Zepeda plenty of pushback, and Zepeda seemed content to do what was required and no more.
Kenneth Sims Jr. gets upset win over Elvis Rodriguez
Junior welterweight Elvis Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic (11-2-1, 10 KOs) suffered his first loss at the hands of determined Kenneth Sims Jr. of Chicago (16-2-1, 5 KOs) in a significant upset victory over the rising star out of Freddie Roach’s stable. Sims Jr. got a majority decision by scores of 78-74 x 2 and 76-76.
“We worked hard to get here. This is where I felt like I was supposed to be, it just a while to get here,” said Sims Jr., who still only gave himself a B for the fight.
Sims Jr., trained by Kay Koroma, who also works with world champion Mikaela Mayer, kept Rodriguez guessing and off-balance behind his jab with a mature, nonstop assault. Sims Jr. hurt Rodriguez more than once, but it was anyone’s guess whether the judges would reward Sims Jr. or hand the victory to the big star. Sims Jr. came for more than a payday and walked away with a lot of respect for his effort.
Undercard results: Muratalla, Vivas, Cortes, Martinez, and Ramirez win
Raymond Muratalla of Fontana (12-0, 10 KOs) showed impressive patience and a wide range of skills in stopping Jose Gallegos of Bakersfield (20-11, 15 KOs) at 2:45 of the fourth round. Muratalla uses his brain as much as his fists in the ring, keeping an opponent guessing by never doing the same thing twice in the ring. A slick fighter with power can go a long way and bring many fans with him on the trip.
Jose Enrique Vivas of Montebello, California via Mexico (21-1, 11 KOs) walked away with a hotly disputed decision victory over challenger Luis Coria (12-5, 7 KOs). Scores were 75 – 74 on all three cards, despite Vivas being knocked down twice by Coria and losing a point for a low blow.
Judges gave Coria only two rounds in what was a competitive fight throughout. Fans were left scratching their heads along with Coria and his team over the outcome.
Undefeated Las Vegas lightweight Andres Cortes (14-0, 7 KOs) got the victory over Eduardo Garza (15-4-1, 8 KOs) of Mission, Texas. Scores were 79-73, 78-74, and 77-75.
Middleweight prospect Javier Martinez of Milwaukee (4-0, 2 KO) scored lights-out knockout win in four rounds over Calvin Metcalf of Kansas City (10-6-1, 3 KOs). Metcalf had never been stopped, but he had no answer for a hard right hand to the temple at 1:45 of the round.
Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez of Florida (7-1, 4 KOs) won a unanimous decision in a near shutout over Ryan Lee Allen of Las Vegas (10-5-1, 5 KOs). Scores were 60-53 X 2 and 59-54. Ramirez is still working on the transition from the volume-scoring amateur style to a more balanced attack.
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.
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