JOSH TAYLOR is the undisputed world super-lightweight champion after defeating Jose Ramirez via unanimous 12-round decision in Las Vegas. Taylor, who dropped Ramirez twice inside the Virgin Hotel, now holds all four sanctioning body titles at 140lbs.
The Scot is only the second fighter since 1967 to rule that weight class without argument. Back then there were two organisations to juggle (the WBA and the WBC) whereas today there is four (with the addition of the WBO and the IBF). Terence Crawford briefly unified the division in 2017 but Taylor’s route to the top has been particularly hazardous; titlists Ramirez, Regis Prograis and Ivan Baranchyk were all unbeaten when dethroned by the ‘Tartan Tornado’.
No other Briton has managed to hold all four belts in any weight class before this. In fact, since the inception of the WBO in 1988, Taylor is just the fifth male boxer across the world to do so. That he has done all of this in just 18 professional contests makes it all the more impressive.
Taylor won via three scores of 114-112 (BN scored 115-111) which highlight how close this contest was and what a difference the knockdowns made to the outcome.
Ramirez started quickly and edged the opening round as blows thudded into Taylor’s stomach. But the Edinburgh hero battled back in the second, his southpaw stance briefly befuddling his foe.
What was clear, after just six minutes of action, was the quality of both fighters.
Ramirez roared forward, his left hook to the body regularly stinging Taylor. The Scot looked like he might succumb to his rival’s work-rate at times but he tenaciously – and quite brilliantly – remained in contention as he artfully peppered Ramirez’s ribs.
Cut over his left eye and in the midst of a gruelling fight, Taylor made the breakthrough in the sixth.
With Ramirez bustling towards him, the Scot cracked him with a short left that landed on the side of the temple. Jose dropped to his knees, stunned, but had no trouble beating referee Kenny Bayless’ count before exchanging furiously upon the fight’s resumption.
The second knockdown, in the seventh round, was an altogether heavier fall. The pair were again at close quarters when Taylor uncorked a rip-roaring left uppercut that thudded into Ramirez’s chin. His first attempt to rise saw his body disobey him but he managed to get up before the count reached eight. Bayless gave Ramirez ample time to recover before beckoning Taylor back to work.
Ramirez survived a storm in the eighth and Taylor boxed beautifully for periods in the ninth and 10th. In a rousing third act, the American pecked away at the deficit on the scorecards, outhustling Taylor down the stretch to take the 11th and 12th sessions; the Brit’s supreme fitness keeping him out of harm’s way.
“I’m ecstatic,” said the jubilant Taylor afterwards.
“I’ve trained my whole life for this moment. I’ve dedicated my whole life for this moment. I’ve dreamt of it so many times over. I’m so, so happy. I’ve over the moon, man. I’ve trained for this moment all my life. Mum, Dad, Finch, Danielle: I told you I would do it! I told you I would do it and we’ve done it!”
The contest was simmering as it drew close with the pair going nose-to-nose at a fiery weigh-in only to be separated. Taylor, notoriously prickly on the eve of battle, exchanged words with Ramirez and his team.
“I’ve got nothing but love for Ramirez,” he explained following his victory. “This week was no disrespect. It was all part of the mind games to get in his head, to make him more eager to jump in at me and make him more aggressive, to use his aggression against him.”
On the scorecards, Taylor said: “I thought the scorecards were a little tight. I thought they were well wider than that. I wasn’t too happy with the selection of the judges, but I wasn’t going to moan. I was confident in winning this fight anyway.”