Scotland’s Josh Taylor became the undisputed super-lightweight champion of the world with a close fought but unanimous decision against former WBC and WBO champion Jose Carlos Ramirez in the Virgin Hotel, Las Vegas on Saturday (22nd).
Remarkably in modern times all three ringside judges scored it 114-112 in Taylor’s favour.
The difference proved to be a knockdown of the American-Mexican in each of the 6th and 7th rounds as the bout was intensely fought throughout, with an ebb and flow that all great fights possess. Much was expected pre-fight between the two undefeated champions, who at age 30 and 28 respectively are at the peak of their powers.
The fight was riveting from the opening bell as Taylor got off to a fast start, boxing well out of his southpaw stance, but Ramirez pulled it back with aggressive advances to take the balance of the opening rounds. These rounds were very close and the difference was what you liked most; Taylor’s slick boxing or, Ramirez aggression and command of ring centre.
Taylor was cut over the left eye in the fifth losing the round again and appearing momentarily to lose momentum.
Then, fifteen seconds into the sixth Taylor stepped in and dropped his opponent with a devastating left hook. Ramirez was up very quickly, shaken but not stirred. It was early enough for Ramirez to re-gather his senses and make the round competitive. This was though scored as a 10-8 round to Taylor by all judges.
Towards the end of another intense round the knockdown in the seventh came with 30 seconds left and was the more shocking to the home fighter. In another heated exchange a left uppercut out of Taylor’s southpaw stance detonated on Ramirez chin and dropped him like a stone. The American arose late on very shaky legs and was on the verge of getting stopped but, referee Kenny Bayless inexplicably gave him more than the allotted ten seconds to recover using several delaying tactics. Had the outcome of the fight not been as such this would have been the big controversy. Clearly a 10-8 round to Taylor.
From the eighth onwards both fighters split rounds, but it appeared that Ramirez was, remarkably, finishing the stronger of the two. The Undisputed had Taylor taking the tenth but the consensus was the American took it and the ‘championship’ rounds (11-12).
Taylor already had the knockdown rounds in the bag and, although not coasting, was clearly homing in on the final bell as he looked up at the clock repeatedly with the rounds running down. This probably made the fight closer than it needed to be but Taylor was a nervy, albeit worthy winner, as the decision was announced. He burst into ecstasy on hearing the decision confirmed.
It was a fight of the highest calibre and both fighters embraced long after the final bell. Ramirez knew early that he’d been beaten and this mutual respect continued as Taylor adorned himself with the four sanctioning body belts and The Ring magazine title.
The achievements of the Prestonpans, Edinburgh boxer are to be lauded and it was a performance that ranks with some of the best of any British boxer overseas in modern times. He’s now a lock-in for the handing out of sporting baubles at the end of the year.
Taylor (18-0, 13 KO’s) has become undisputed world champion in only his eighteenth professional fight, Scotland’s first since his idol Ken Buchanan some fifty years ago. On route, he’s beaten three other previously unbeaten ‘world’ champions, and is only the fifth fighter to unify all titles in the four belt era.
The world is now his oyster and he’ll have the pick of fights ahead in either the 10st (140lb), or 10st 7lb (147lb) division should he decide to move up. Some of the current pound-for-pounders await his challenge – be that Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr, Manny Pacquiao, or Teofimo Lopez.
Ramirez drops to 26-1 (17 KO’s) and don’t rule out an immediate rematch, such was the quality and intensity of this contest. If that takes place it could be a massive filip for Scottish boxing in a football stadium north of the border.
Take a bow Josh Taylor – undisputed world super-lightweight champion.
Other news emerging over the weekend was the announcement that Tyson Fury will defend his WBC world heavyweight title in a trilogy fight against former champ Deontay Wilder on 24 July.
Also, that Anthony Joshua has been mandated by the WBO to defend their title against number one heavyweight contender Oleksandr Usyk.
Sadly, the long awaited Joshua-Fury match that boxing needs for its credibility in the eyes of sports fans looks further away than ever. We can only hope that both come through undefeated and we eventually get the fight the world wants to see.