The Friday Faceup

‘The Tartan Tornado’ Josh Taylor

Back in January The Undisputed drew up a shortlist of the fights that had to be made this year. The highest profile fight – Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury – looks to have sadly fallen by the wayside this week, however, second in that list is happening and this is the weekend it does.

In Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday (22nd) Scotland’s Josh Taylor (IBF and WBA champion) will attempt to unify the world super-lightweight (10st/140lb) championship by gaining the WBC and WBO versions held by Mexican-American Jose Ramirez.

If doing so, Taylor would become the undisputed champion and also retain his Ring magazine championship. He would simultaneously become the most recognized Scottish champion since undisputed lightweight (9st 9lb/135lbs) and fellow Edinburgh fighter Ken Buchanan in the early 1970’s.

Buchanan transcended the sport and was big box office in the US sharing changing rooms with Muhammad Ali. He is an idol to Taylor, and Buchanan would get much satisfaction from a modern day Scotsman equaling his accomplishments. On this Bob Arum Top Rank promotion the pre-fight bagpipes and Taylor’s tartan attire will be throwbacks to those magical nights in Madison Square Garden, New York City in the 70’s.

As to the actual contest; make no bones about it, this fight has all the makings of a cracker.

‘The Tartan Tornado’ Taylor has been flawless as a pro. Since winning gold in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games he’s compiled a 17-0 (13 KO) record. He’s won the IBF title and in a stunning victory against previously undefeated Regis Prograis also captured the WBA title. On that raucous October 2019 night in London’s O2 Arena he also gained the Muhammad Ali Trophy by winning the World Boxing Super Series – an eight man tournament to determine the best light-welterweight.

Now, a big stateside appearance is a natural progression in Taylor’s attempt to unify the titles, but he remains amazed by his accomplishments and now being on the cusp of greatness.

In his way is no patsy. Jose Ramirez is similarly undefeated at 26-0 (17 KO’s), has a 65% KO ratio and supreme confidence coming into the bout. He may be fighting in the next state from his native California, but has a similar Olympic pedigree, rabid fanbase and is a hungry champion. He also has a social conscience, campaigning for migrants rights in his local community.

Both fighters are quality operators and love a tear up.

The 30 year old Scotsman is approaching his peak and his southpaw style and boxing IQ is sure to cause Ramirez early problems. In the American’s favour is him being two years younger and having fought in Vegas six times more. The Californian also has the greater activity having defeated Viktor Postol on points last August. Taylor by contrast had a pointless one round blowout victory against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong in London in September 2020.

Taylor though has arguably fought at the higher level with standout victories back to back against Postol, Ryan Martin, Ivan Baranchyk and Regis Prograis. Ramirez in comparison, as well as sharing a win over Postol has beaten Jose Zepeda who subsequently featured in and won the 2020 fight of the year. Zepeda will be chief support against Hank Lundy on Saturday.

The main event is a wafer thin fight to predict. Both fighters are at the elite level and bring undefeated records into the ring, having an aura of invincibility and having never felt the despair of defeat as professionals. In what will initially be a tactical contest both fighters will put it on the line from rounds 8 through 12 and The Undisputed sees the superior ringcraft of the man from Prestonpans, Edinburgh prevailing.

Taylor will undoubtedly have to come through some difficult moments in the fight but we see him winning by a close but unanimous decision.

If this happens Taylor will enter the annals of British boxing history and look forward to a defence of his undisputed title before 40,000 passionate Scotsman in a soccer stadium later in the year. Saturday’s fight may be so good that a rematch is demanded. Don’t miss it.

The Taylor v Ramirez card will be available on the FITE subscription channel from 01:00 BST at £9.99 and main event broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live around 04:00 BST.

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