Now that unified junior welterweight titleholders Josh Taylor (WBA and IBF) and Jose Ramirez (WBC and WBO) have gone through their respective mandatory challengers, it’s time for them to meet for the undisputed championship at 140 pounds. Whoever wins that fight will hold all four major titles in a division full of talent.
Since Top Rank started promoting Taylor in January, a unification showdown against Ramirez, who also is promoted by Top Rank, has been the best and most obvious fight to make in the division, and one of the best that Top Rank can make as a promotion.
Taylor recently told ESPN that a fight against Ramirez, for all the marbles, needs to be made.
“In my opinion it’s the biggest fight in boxing outside of the heavyweights — Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua — and for all four world titles,” Taylor said. “It has to be made for the good of the sport, it would be a crying shame if it isn’t made because of this.”
Title contender Jose Zepeda is hoping to get the winner of Taylor-Ramirez, but first he needs to win his fight against Ivan Baranchyk on Saturday. Can he get himself to a title fight?
Tyson Fury is still waiting for his third fight with Deontay Wilder to be scheduled. He recently teased Wilder on Twitter, saying: “Could do with a good challenge. Please bring your A+ game this time my G.”
Wilder looking in good shape 👍
— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) September 27, 2020
While they are expected to fight before the end of the year, the lack of fans due to the coronavirus pandemic — and the money from ticket sales that would come from fans — could delay the bout until next year.
Jermall Charlo’s impressive victory over Sergiy Derevyanchenko to defend his WBC middleweight world title puts him in the top three in the division, behind only Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin. But how about Jaime Munguia? Is he the best middleweight without a belt?
Boxing experts Nick Parkinson and Ben Baby break it down.
Real or not: Wilder-Fury III will happen even if no fans can attend
Parkinson: Not real. It’s a developing situation, but right now promoters of Fury-Wilder III are saying they need revenue from a live gate to make this megafight happen. News that Las Vegas Raiders fans will not be attending NFL games at the newly opened $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium due to coronavirus restrictions, was a setback to hopes Fury-Wilder III will take place on Dec. 19 at the new stadium just off The Strip. Frank Warren, who co-promotes WBC heavyweight champion Fury along with Top Rank’s Bob Arum, has previously said Fury is insisting on fighting Wilder this year with or without fans, but also acknowledges a fight of this scale can only happen with fans.
Fury-Wilder II in February was the highest grossing heavyweight title fight ever to take place in Vegas, the world capital of boxing. However, there could be a solution to having Fury-Wilder III without fans.
Warren on “Good Morning Britain,” a UK TV show: “We need the gate, or we come up with a scenario where there is a huge site fee from a territory to take it, and we use it to promote their country. We are looking at those situations.”
New locations, outside of the U.S. and U.K., are being explored to see if an attendance is possible. Earlier this year, there was a bid for Fury-Wilder III to be staged in Australia at Christmas. It seemed far-fetched at the time — but now seems like a realistic lifeline for promoters and broadcasters to get the fight on sooner than later.
Real or not: Josh Taylor will beat Jose Ramirez to unify all four major junior welterweight titles
Parkinson: Real. Taylor showed on Saturday that he is more than just a relentless pressure fighter. He can spot an opening and ruthlessly capitalize on it, even in the first round. Taylor took out Apinun Khongsong with a short left to the body in a dominant performance, something that Ramirez failed to produce in his most recent outing against Viktor Postol last month. Ramirez had to be content with a majority points win over Postol, who Taylor bested in a unanimous decision victory two years ago. Taylor also has beaten better opponents than Ramirez recently, and is in better form. The biggest threat to Taylor not unifying all four belts is if the WBO insists on Ramirez first making a mandatory defense against England’s Jack Catterall. That could see Ramirez relinquish the WBO belt to make the Taylor fight next. Let’s hope the WBO does the right thing and delays its mandatory so Taylor-Ramirez becomes a reality.
Real or not: Jose Zepeda will fight for a 140-pound title next
Baby: Not real. But Zepeda isn’t far off. With Josh Taylor through with his mandatory defense against Apinun Khongsong, the junior welterweight division will be fixated on a unification fight between Taylor and Ramirez for all four major belts.
If this one is as good as expected, don’t be surprised if we get a rematch at some point in 2021. Should that occur, Zepeda will likely need an in-between fight if he’s going to get a crack at the winner. Keep in mind that Ramirez beat Zepeda in February 2019 in the prelude to his title reign.
Real or not: Juan Francisco Estrada will get revenge on Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in 2021
Kim: Real. When they first met in 2012 they battled over 12 entertaining rounds for Gonzalez’s WBA junior flyweight title. “Chocolatito” was a long-established two-division champion, and one of the best pure fighters, pound-for-pound, in the sport. Estrada was a relatively unknown challenger who had a record of 26-1 at the time, but was untested.
He competed with Gonzalez but lost a clear-cut decision. But that experience made him a better fighter, and in his very next fight he defeated Brian Viloria, who at the time was the unified flyweight champion.
A lot has happened since then. Gonzalez has put together a Hall of Fame résumé while Estrada has become an elite prizefighter and a two-division world titleholder. The rematch should be another entertaining back-and-forth affair, but youth shall be served. Estrada, 30, will have just a bit more left in the tank against Gonzalez, 33.
Real or not: Jaime Munguia is the best middleweight without a major title
Baby: As promising as Munguia has looked throughout his career, I’m still not sold on him as a top prospect. Remember, he has only one fight at middleweight under his belt — a stoppage win over Gary O’Sullivan at the beginning of 2020. Munguia also didn’t look great in a majority win against Dennis Hogan that drew some ire from observers.
On top of all of that, the middleweight stable is notably deep. Jermall Charlo and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, who squared off on Saturday, were each better than Munguia entering that bout. Former titlist Rob Brant has looked rejuvenated under new trainer Brian McIntyre. And don’t forget Ryota Murata, who beat Brant in a rematch to win his belt in 2019. Munguia will need a good showing against a notable opponent to be taken seriously in the 160-pound division.