LAS VEGAS — Josh Taylor jumped on someone’s shoulders, pumped his fists and cheered along with the small section of his supporters nestled behind one of the corners.
They had every reason to be thrilled. In one of the rarest fights in boxing — an undisputed title fight featuring two undefeated boxers in their prime — Taylor was the one who made history Saturday night.
Behind the strength of two knockdowns, Taylor picked up a 114-112 unanimous decision — all three judges scored it the same — over Jose Ramirez. He becomes only the sixth male boxer in the four-division era (since 1988) to become an undisputed champion and the first Scottish fighter to accomplish the feat.
“I’ve dedicated my whole life for this moment,” Taylor said in the post-fight interview on ESPN. “I’ve dreamt of it so many times over, man. I’m so, so happy. I’m over the moon. I’ve trained for this moment all my life.”
Most of the limited-capacity, sold-out crowd inside the theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas cheered for Ramirez (26-1, 17 KOs). They cheered early and chanted his name as Ramirez connected early in the fight.
But once Taylor (18-0, 13 KOs) took control in the middle rounds, it was the small Scottish contingent that was loudest.
In the sixth round, the southpaw dropped Ramirez with a short, left counterpunch. Ramirez recovered well enough to keep Taylor at bay for the rest of the round but that wasn’t the case in the seventh.
As the two men were exiting a clinch, Taylor landed a lead, left uppercut that sent Ramirez to the canvas. He wobbled as he made it to his feet before referee Kenny Bayless could finish the count. With a little more than 10 seconds left in the round, Taylor didn’t have time to push for the stoppage.
It turns out he didn’t need it. Even though Ramirez steadied himself and even won a few rounds in the latter half of the fight, Taylor did a good job of staying at range, not allowing Ramirez to catch him with a big power shot and picking his own opportunities to strike.
Taylor’s blueprint in the ring mirrored what it was like during fight week. Taylor jawed with Ramirez during Thursday’s faceoff and even at Friday’s weigh-in. Taylor also sparked a scuffle with Ramirez that forced both men to be separated.
After the fight, Taylor and Ramirez shared an embrace and a long conversation near Ramirez’s corner. Taylor said he wanted to apologize for any perceived slights against the former champion out of Avenal, California.
“I got nothing but love for Ramirez,” Taylor told ESPN in his post-fight interview. “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 be more aggressive, to use his aggression against him.”
Trainer Ben Davison’s game plan worked perfectly, especially as Ramirez tried to push the tempo in the later rounds. Taylor circled Ramirez and boxed his way to the victory that yielded a well-deserved celebration.
Before the fight, Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum said Taylor could move up to welterweight to face Terence “Bud” Crawford, who also was previously the undisputed champion in the 140-pound division.
But Saturday night was for relishing the type of victory that so few fighters achieve in their careers. Taylor stood in the middle of the ring, smiling and posing for photos with all four major belts, basking in his historic moment.