The most meaningful fight in the 140-pound division won’t happen until 2021, assuming heavily favored Josh Taylor beats Apinun Khongsong on Saturday night.
Bob Arum informed BoxingScene.com that a Jose Ramirez-Taylor title unification fight is no longer an option for late in 2020. With most college football conferences now scheduled to play throughout the fall, ESPN has fewer needs for boxing content on Saturday nights in November and December.
Arum, whose company promotes Ramirez and co-promotes Taylor, told BoxingScene.com last month that he hoped to put on a Ramirez-Taylor bout before the end of 2020. That promotional plan changed once it became clear ESPN wouldn’t need as many Top Rank cards as Arum anticipated at that point.
Arum also would prefer to stage Ramirez-Taylor with fans in attendance, either in the United States or the United Kingdom, because both boxers are draws in their respective regions.
“The way we’re looking at it, there are other fights that would take precedence [over Ramirez-Taylor] this year,” Arum said. “And for that fight, we would really need a robust audience to make it work, whether it was here [in the U.S.], or over in Scotland or London. We need an audience. We just can’t do that fight without an audience.”
Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) secured his place in a championship unification showdown with Taylor by beating Ukraine’s Viktor Postol (31-3, 12 KOs) by majority decision in their 12-rounder August 29 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Scotland’s Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) is scheduled to make a mandatory defense of his IBF junior welterweight title against Thailand’s Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) on Saturday night at BT Sport Studio in London.
ESPN+ will stream Taylor-Khongsong live Saturday as the main event of a show scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT. BT Sport will televise the Taylor-Khongsong card in the UK.
Taylor, 29, also will defend his WBA super lightweight title. Ramirez, 28, owns the WBC and WBO 140-pound crowns.
Ramirez and Taylor each expressed to BoxingScene.com in recent weeks a willingness to fight in his potential opponent’s home country.
Ramirez has established himself as one of the biggest gate attractions in American boxing by consistently drawing crowds in excess of 10,000 to Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, near Ramirez’s hometown of Avenal. Taylor, of Prestonpans, Scotland, is a proven ticket-seller at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.