Saturday evening in a boxing ring, the sport got it right and unified a division. It should always be that way.
Jose Ramirez lost two titles, Josh Taylor kept his and became the unified junior welterweight champion.
For the sixth time in boxing history all four titles in a division are with one fighter. So no more confusion, and who cares about all the alphabet soup titles that cause an average boxing fan and, at times, a journalist like me to determine who has a piece of this or that.
Boxing needs more of this but the greed of sanctioning organizations (WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO) and financial awards have continued to make a mockery of the sport. It also prevents more fights like the one that put Ramirez and Taylor in the same ring to determine a unified champion.
Ramirez, who had been world champion since March 2018, went to the body in the early going, but Taylor (18-0, 13 KO’s) returned the same arsenal. The fight turned in the sixth round when Taylor nailed Ramirez with a straight left and hit the canvas. In the seventh, an uppercut also put Ramirez on the canvas.
Ramirez (18-1, 17 KO’s) managed to win the last four rounds on one scorecard while winning three of the last four on the other two. Had there been no knockdowns, the fight could have easily been declared a draw and we would be talking about a second fight.
114-112 was reasonable for the unanimous decision and that’s how I had it scored.
Purely from a boxing point of view, Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor in Las Vegas to unify the 140-pound titles was important because the sport needs to see more of this. In an era where alphabet soup titles are significant, and because the sanctioning groups reap the financial awards, it has become a rarity to showcase a title unification.
Yes, Teofimo Lopez did his part and unified the lightweight division last October at the closed door MGM Conference Center in Las Vegas. He dethroned Vasyl Lomachenko as the COVID pandemic continued but for some reason the WBC title belongs to Devin Haney.
Since then, Lopez took the bidding and purse bid to the successful upstart Triller Fight Club and will defend his titles on a June 19th Pay-Per-View in Miami against George Kambosos, outdoors at the home of the Miami Marlins.
Lopez is expected to win against an opponent who, for some reason, has been declared the mandatory challenger. Lopez, who is expected to win, has his eyes on history and made no secret of moving up in weight and unifying the titles at 140.
The fighters will say all the belts are important and that they cement a legacy to future enshrinement in the Boxing Hall of Fame up in Canastota, but winning and making a statement is more significant. For fans, Ramirez and Taylor was that fight.
Boxing is in that come back mode and seeing fans again at venues, after a year of a pandemic and safety protocols, added to the significance. Some fighters and promoters stayed relevant and kept their obligations by promoting televised and streaming networks behind closed doors.
Believe me, fans in the seats generate revenue. Fighters love that aroma of a crowd reacting to every punch and jab and this is what boxing is supposed to be. Yes, we have seen some good fights during the pandemic year.
Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum and Top Rank delivered Oscar Valdez winning the WBC Super Featherweight title via tenth-round knockout over Miguel Berchelt and became a two-division world champion in February.
Last month, WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete defended his world title by a 12th round TKO against Christopher Diaz in front of a sold out crowd of 3,262 at the socially distanced Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida. Navarrete floored Diaz twice in round eight and again in round twelve. Diaz’ corner stopped the fight with 11 seconds left.
Eventually, the heavyweight title will see a unified champion, that is of course, if Anthony Joshua still has an opportunity at Tyson Fury. That got more confusing this week as Fury now appears to have a third fight scheduled with Deontay Wilder.
It perplexes me as to why Ramirez and Taylor, one of the highlight fights of the year, received little or no build up. Except for some pre-fight coverage on ESPN platforms, there was minimal hype.
Perhaps the change in the demographics of boxing are attributed to the lack of hype of a fight that lived up to expectations. There is a younger audience tuning in and that is shown with the entertainment and boxing component that Triller fight Club has delivered.
There is also the upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr. return and exhibition bout against Logan Paul, June 5th on Showtime PPV, yet that is not appear to be taken seriously. Fans need to see legitimate fights and of course it makes sense that a Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. exhibition, on the initial Triller PPV card in late November, generated close to a million and a half PPV buys.
But back to basics, because Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor made boxing history Saturday night and like the old days they fought for all the marbles. One champion went home with all the titles and this did not have a circus atmosphere
Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum is smiling. ESPN should expect a good, final rating and that helps the sport.
“Now at the end of this pandemic we have the best fight of the whole pandemic experience,” said Arum during the week. “We don’t have to sell anything about this fight. We just mention the fighters. They are both undefeated. Both former Olympians, both world champions.”
Arum was correct. It was a good fight. The titles were unified.
World champions in the same ring and unifying the titles. How many times have we heard or had a fight of this magnitude in this modern era? Not many and there needs to be more.
The tough challenge for boxing is having more fights like this. The fighters and fans deserve one champion and less confusion with all the alphabet soup titles.
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