Bob Arum doesn’t see any issue with one of his most popular boxers hitting the road.
Much has been made about unbeaten, unified junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez heading overseas for a previously planned mandatory title defense versus Ukraine’s Viktor Postol which was due to take place in Haikou, China. The show has since been indefinitely postponed due to the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic, but hasn’t at all softened the Hall of Fame promoter’s stance on showcasing his top fighters on a global stage.
“You have to understand, if you go back to my history—when I started out as a boxing promoter, I was just in the Muhammad Ali business,” Arum explained during a recent media conference call. “I promoted the great Muhammad Ali in  fights. 40% of those fights took place outside the United States. All over the world, whether it was Asia, Japan, whether it was in Europe, in Germany... England... Ireland...it was all over the world.
“If you get a great person and a great fighter, you want to show him off around the world.”
Fittingly, Arum’s first promotional venture—under Main Bout before eventually forming Top Rank, Inc.—took place in Canada, serving on the promotion for Ali’s 15-round win over George Chuvalo to defend his World heavyweight championship in in March 1966 in Toronto, Canada. It would become the first of 27 countries and territories where Arum would take the lead on a boxing event, having regularly conducted business in China ever since the pro debut of three-time Olympic medalist Zou Shiming in 2013 in Macao.
Ramirez (25-0, 17KOs) had just signed with Top Rank a few months prior, fresh from his run on the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team which competed in London. The now unified titlist fought around the world as an amateur but just once outside the U.S. as a pro—Top Rank’s 9th and final card in Macao back in 2015. By then, Ramirez was already a massive attraction in his home Central Valley (California) region, regularly playing to sold-out crowds in Fresno which hosted his title-elimination knockout win over Mike Reed as well as title defending victories over Antonio Orozco and Jose Zepeda.
His most recent win came in his opponent’s hometown, scoring a 6th round knockout Maurice Hooker last July in the greater Dallas area to unify two titles. The win marked his first fight away from home since winning his first belt in a March 2018 decision victory over Amir Imam at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
More so than his boxing skills, Ramirez has earned the respect and admiration of his community through extensive activism, having long served as an advocate for the ongoing water crisis in California’s Central Valley region. His efforts have long been respected by the boxing world—reflected in his being nominated by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) for the 2019 Marvin Kohn Good Guy award.
As such, Ramirez was viewed by his promoter as the perfect candidate for his global campaign in 2020.
“I believe that Jose Ramirez—and I'm not comparing him to the great Ali, Muhammad Ali was very unique. But so is Jose unique,” explained Arum. “He is a man who not only is a tremendous fighter, but he epitomizes the American dream. When you look at his history, how his family came over (from Mexico) to work in the fields, how he worked in the fields as a young man. How he really rose from his own bootstraps to become educated and become a great athlete.
“Also, to have this drive to be an activist in his community. That is something special. And that's why, you take someone like Jose and you don't just put him in the United States. You take him around the world to show what a great country America is and what a great person Jose is.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox