Regardless of the exact year in which you consider the era of professional boxing four-belt championship to have begun, the undisputed champions of a particular weight division have become a rare phenomenon in the sport.
For the sake of clarity, the WBO was not launched until 1988, but was not widely accepted at the same level as the WBC, WBA, and IBF sanctioning bodies in place until 2004, although even this note footer is somewhat debated among historians.
Regardless, the modern era of the past two decades in boxing has produced only four men and three women to simultaneously hold all four recognized world titles in the same weight class.
Middleweights Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor, who have faced each other twice, were the first to do so, followed by Terence Crawford (junior welterweight) and Oleksandr Usyk (heavyweight). On the women’s side, where a proliferation of vacant titles has watered down the accomplishment somewhat, Claressa Shields (middleweight, junior middleweight), Katie Taylor (lightweight) and Jessica McCaskill (welterweight) have all joined this exclusive club these last years.
The newly renamed Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on Saturday hosts a clash between undefeated unified champions when Jose Ramirez (WBC, WBO) and Josh Taylor (WBA, IBF) clash to decide the undisputed second undisputed four-belt champion at 140 pounds . the history of boxing.
Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs), the reigning WBO welterweight champion, knocked out fellow unified Julius Indongo with a body shot in the third round in 2017 to win all four titles. Coincidentally, within months of his Top Rank promotional contract which expired in October, Crawford could be in line, according to Bob Arum, to fight the winner from Ramirez-Taylor.
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Luckily for fans, Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) and Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) are expected to put on a much more competitive show than Crawford’s relationship with the unannounced Indongo as the hardcore boxing community continues to buzz about the combat potential to deliver skill, action, and drama.
“That fight probably should have happened about a year ago. Obviously with everything that happened, it’s been put back and put back in place. It’s finally here,” Taylor told “Morning Kombat” ” last week. “I know he comes in and brings warmth and I come to bring warmth. We both leave our hearts and souls in the ring.
“He can do 12 rounds but I really don’t think he will. I think it ends with him on his back and me with all four belts. That’s how I think it ends.”
Taylor, a 30-year-old Scotsman, is a left-handed boxer-puncher who proved in his decisive entanglement with Regis Prograis in the 2019 World Boxing Super Series tournament final that he is much grainy than he looks. ‘air. house a lively majority decision.
Ramirez, 28, a pride of Fresno, Calif., Passed a similar test with flying colors during his own unification in 2019 against undefeated compatriot Maurice Hooker when Ramirez bit his gum shield to deliver a sixth-round TKO in a shooting.
While Hooker’s victory remains the calling card of Ramirez’s career to this day, he was also pushed into two close wins over Jose Zepeda and Viktor Postol sandwiched around that fight. Some thought Ramirez might (or, in some cases, should have) tasted defeat for the first time in either fight, as did Taylor, who had won a much wider victory over Postol two years ago. earlier.
“[Ramirez] didn’t wow all of his opponents, but he won all of his fights, ”Taylor said. He did well although I always thought there were a few decisions, he was very, very, very, very lucky to come out on the right side. rating. Then I do not know. I think I boxed the best position but the styles make fights. This fight was designed to be an absolute cracker. ”
While Taylor’s story in managing his competition more definitively speaks for itself, it doesn’t tell the full story of who Ramirez is by comparison alone. Ramirez carried a bit of a “little engine that could” aura surround him, which has consistently allowed him to elevate his game at the right time to overtake his competition.
That’s why Ramirez didn’t hesitate to be listed as a 2-1 betting outsider by punters.
“I’ve always been the underdog. It’s my mentality,” Ramirez said on media day last week. “I am fighting for my place in boxing history. No Mexican-born boxer has ever held all four world title belts. I am aware that most people are fighting against me, but that does than feed me more.
“In my mind, I’m supposed to win this fight. I don’t let the outside noise get to me. No matter what you do or who you fight, there will always be someone else out there. right now that person is Josh Taylor. “
Elsewhere on the map, Jose Zepeda is back in action when he takes on Hank Lundy in the co-main event. Zepeda has long been a fixture in the 140-pound division while also holding secondary titles in the weight class. Now he has just won the winner of the fight of the year in 2020 against Ivan Baranchyk in which both fighters have been dropped several times. The California native is hoping for a shot at the undisputed champion and winner of the night’s main event with a win over the unannounced Lundy.
Fight card, odds
- Josh Taylor -240 vs. Jose Ramirez +200, unification of junior welterweight
- Jose Zepeda -2200 vs. Hank Lundy +1100, junior welterweight
- Elvis Rodriguez -2000 vs. Kenneth Sims Jr. +1000, junior welterweight
- Dated: May 22 | Location: Virgin Hotels – Las Vegas
- Start time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN / ESPN +
- Direct: fuboTV (try for free)
In such a close fight on paper between boxer-punchers who are technically strong but love to throw down, something will have to give way for a fighter to get ahead. This wild card is perhaps the characteristic that separates them the best: power.
Ramirez only knows one speed when it comes to applying smart but very direct pressure. His aggressive style often leaves him openings for his opponents to counter and this is where Taylor’s power advantage might be too big in the end.
Even though Ramirez comes in with a reach advantage of almost three inches, he usually gives it early on by being so willing to step into the phone booth and out of the competition. It’s a strategy that could get him in trouble provided southpaw Taylor is able to establish some distance to get his powerful shots.
Most of the categories from speed to technique and courage are so even that Taylor’s hitting advantage could be what leads to a save or, at the very least, tips the judges against activity level. de Ramirez if the fight were to last.
Either way, get ready for a thriller between two fighters who refuse to take a step back.
Take: Taylor via TKO10 – Campbell
Despite all the celebrity talk and gimmick invading boxing, true fans of the sport are still good with fights made just for us. It’s as legitimate a fight as one might ask, but Ramirez will have to take advantage of Taylor’s wicked side to force a tough trade. As good as Ramirez is, Taylor is a bit faster, a bit sharper, and just a bit more tested in the kind of rough war that could break out. He’s also outlived men with real power and has proven he can win a fight from start to finish. Ramirez is truly a lively dog, but based on skill alone, Taylor has the edge. He’s also probably the best fighter to make an adjustment in combat if Ramirez gains momentum early on.
Picks: Taylor via UD – Brent Brookhouse, Editor
Who wins Taylor against Ramirez? And which plus-money accessory is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see Brandon Wise’s best bets for Saturday, all from the CBS combat sports specialist who was all over Jamel Herring’s victory, and find out.