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Taylor vs Ramirez: There can be only one

Josh Taylor
Alex Gough
Paul Wheeler analyses Taylor vs Ramirez, an enticing battle for super-lightweight supremacy

AGE AND PHYSICAL EQUIPMENT
TAYLOR:
Having turned 30 at the beginning of this year, Josh Taylor is in his fighting prime. Standing at 5ft 10ins, the Scotsman is a good-sized super-lightweight. At the weigh-in ahead of his clash with Ivan Baranchyk two years ago, it took him two attempts to make the 140lb limit (he was two ounces over at first). Some observers have suggested, therefore, that he may be outgrowing the division as he gets older.
RAMIREZ: Although he is the same height as Taylor, Jose Ramirez boasts a slightly longer reach (72ins compared to 69 1/2ins). Set to turn 29 in three months’ time, the Californian is in his peak years. Like his opponent, he is a career super-lightweight, though he has talked about moving up to welterweight in the past. Yet for the time being at least, 140lbs is a comfortable fit for his physique.
EDGE: There is not much between them in this category, but the marginally younger and rangier Ramirez shades it.

EXPERIENCE
TAYLOR:
As an amateur, Taylor had more than 150 bouts and boxed at multiple major tournaments around the globe. In addition to competing at the 2012 Olympics, he medalled at two Commonwealth Games, earning silver in 2010 and gold in 2014. In his six years as a professional, the Edinburgh man has wasted little time in rising up the ranks. Matched competitively and smartly from an early stage in his pro journey, he has benefited from mixing with strong opposition – he became Commonwealth champion just 15 months after his paid debut, for example. Three of his victims – Baranchyk, Viktor Postol and Regis Prograis – are genuine top 10 names at 140lbs.
RAMIREZ: Unlike Taylor, who, out of 17 fights, has only had three low-key outings in the US, Ramirez is a seasoned stateside campaigner. All but one of the Avenal native’s 26 matchups have been staged in America, with seven being held in Las Vegas, where this weekend’s contest takes place. Taylor, in contrast, has fought in Sin City just once. Similarly to the Scot, Ramirez has shared a ring with a number of noteworthy foes in the pros. A 2012 Olympian like Taylor, the American made close to 100 appearances in the amateurs, where he reached a lofty level both nationally and internationally.
EDGE: Another close one, yet as an amateur and pro, Taylor’s CV has a little more depth to it.

BEST PERFORMANCES
TAYLOR:
The standout success on Taylor’s 17-0 (13) record is his victory over Prograis, who, along with Taylor and Ramirez, is considered as one of the top three 140-pounders on the planet. In a fight of the highest standard, Taylor displayed drive, grit and no shortage of skill to overcome Prograis on points. Josh also had to dig deep and show spirit and composure to outscore Postol and Baranchyk. Other notable scalps on his ledger include Ohara Davies, Miguel Vazquez and Ryan Martin, all of whom were beaten inside schedule. When Taylor faced off against an unknown quantity in Apinun Khongsong, he tore through him in under three minutes.
RAMIREZ: In a thrilling shootout with the long-limbed Maurice Hooker, Ramirez produced a scintillating stoppage to get the win. Also on the receiving end of Ramirez’s furious fists was the decent Mike Reed, who was dispatched in quick time. Amir Imam and Antonio Orozco presented Jose with differing challenges – Imam being a tricky counterpuncher and Orozco being an all-action aggressor. Nevertheless, the 26-0 (17) Ramirez got the better of both fighters on the scorecards.
EDGE: While Ramirez has looked very impressive at times, Taylor’s showings have been more consistently stellar.

WORST PERFORMANCES
TAYLOR:
It is clearly a case of nitpicking when it comes to criticising any of Taylor’s displays so far. He may have been disappointed to be taken the distance by Alfonso Olvera, but then again, no one has been able to stop the dogged battler so far.
RAMIREZ: As with Taylor, it is hard to find fault with Ramirez’s unblemished résumé. Although he outpointed the out-of-form Johnny Garcia convincingly in the end, Ramirez did have to rise from a knockdown in the second round.
EDGE: Due to the fact that Ramirez was sent to the canvas by Garcia, Taylor pips him here.

STRENGTHS
TAYLOR:
Versatile, determined and heavy-handed, skilful southpaw Taylor shoots out jolting jabs, hurtful hooks and fierce body blows. A clever mover and effective inside fighter, his poise allows him to intelligently manage fights. With his fast flurries and incessant output, he prevents his rivals from settling into a rhythm. He is adept at both evading and blocking punches, while he can also take a shot.
RAMIREZ: Well-conditioned like Taylor, Ramirez sets a torrid pace and is able to find a higher gear in the later rounds, if necessary. This was evident in his tight tussles with Postol and the dangerous Jose Zepeda. In both instances, Ramirez’s increased tempo in the second half resulted in him prevailing via decision. A skilled and sharp-punching pressure-fighter with a solid chin, he varies his attacks to head and body. Fleet of fist and foot, he dishes out spiteful one-twos and uppercuts, as well as whipping in vicious left hooks to the liver.
EDGE: Both boxers possess an array of attributes, but Taylor seems to be the more rounded of the two.

WEAKNESSES
TAYLOR:
Though he generally remains composed in the heat of battle, occasionally Taylor’s warrior instinct can lead him to stand and trade, when boxing on the move would be the wiser option. Additionally, ring rust could potentially be an issue, as he has seen less than a round of action in the past year-and-a-half.
RAMIREZ: Zepeda demonstrated that by employing disciplined boxing tactics and avoiding overzealousness, it is possible to keep Ramirez off balance and out of range for periods.
EDGE: Having put 12 rounds in the bank last year, Ramirez [above] has more recent activity under his belt.

OUTCOME
It is difficult to imagine this fight being anything other than an electrifying and enthralling affair. Ramirez will certainly have his moments in a high-quality, fast-paced encounter, but Taylor’s formidable mix of class, assurance and determination can see him secure a hard-earned verdict.

The Undercard

ACTING as the chief support to the Taylor-Ramirez showdown is another super-lightweight contest, featuring a former foe of Ramirez.

In February 2019, Jose Zepeda dropped a majority verdict to Ramirez, though he made his fellow Californian work hard. Seven months later, Zepeda recorded an impressive unanimous points victory over Jose Pedraza, before notching another notable win just over a year later, this time against Ivan Baranchyk. In a barnburning Fight of the Year, Zepeda and Baranchyk each suffered four knockdowns, with the La Puente resident coming out on top via fifth-round KO.

Zepeda’s opponent this weekend is a fellow switch-hitter in seasoned Philadelphian Hank Lundy, 31-8-1 (14). The wily 37-year-old veteran has been around the block, having fought various noteworthy names, including David Diaz (w ko 6 – Aug 2011), Viktor Postol (l ud 12 – Mar 2013) and Terence Crawford (l rsf 5 – Feb 2016). He has comfortably won his last two bouts, albeit in low-key eight-rounders.

With his jab, movement and unconventional use of angles, the awkward and adaptable Lundy does not afford anyone an easy night. Yet Zepeda, 33-2 (26) 2NC, is a man in form. An accurate and powerful puncher, the 31-year-old Mexican-American targets the body with venom and connects with forceful jabs and crafty counters. Although both fighters have hit the deck numerous times in the past, their toughness is not in question. Lundy is shrewd enough to make it through the full 10 rounds, but Zepeda should be a clear winner at the finish.

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