Jose Ramirez was willing to take the risk inside the ring against Regis Prograis.

The proud former WBC/WBO 140-pound champion is insulted by those that suggested this week that he is “afraid” to fight the powerful southpaw who won the WBC belt last month that Ramirez once owned. Ramirez reminded his doubters that his resume proves that he is willing to fight the most imposing opponents – including the dangerous southpaw Prograis knocked out to win his title, Jose Zepeda, and the only boxer who has beaten him and Prograis, Josh Taylor.

The dollars just didn’t make nearly enough sense to Ramirez and his team to move forward with his mandated shot at Prograis’ championship. The WBC announced Wednesday that Prograis can make a voluntary defense of his super lightweight title because Ramirez wouldn’t agree to the 65-35 split the WBC approved recently for their mandated match.

“I’m not afraid of nobody,” Ramirez told “I’m not afraid of Regis Prograis, and he knows it, too. I’m not afraid of no one in the sport of boxing. You know, I’ve dedicated myself to fighting the best. I’ve shown it throughout the years.

“I wanna make it clear – I’m not afraid of nobody. I just know my worth, you know? I know what’s out there and I know how big this fight is for both of us.”

Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Ramirez’s promoter, and Probellum, the company that promotes Prograis, would’ve made offers had their fight gone to a purse bid. It was never scheduled, however, because Ramirez’s team demanded what they considered a more equitable split based on Ramirez’s track record as a box-office draw in California’s Central Valley and as an “A” side who has appeared on one of boxing’s biggest platforms, ESPN, numerous times.

Had Top Rank won a purse bid, Prograis-Ramirez would’ve been broadcast live on ESPN, not on pay-per-view. Prograis-Zepeda was the main event of a pay-per-view show that cost $59.99 on November 26.

Top Rank and Probellum couldn’t have struck a deal that would’ve eliminated the need for a Prograis-Ramirez purse bid because Arum’s company will not work with Probellum. Arum has stated that he can’t do business with Probellum because of its alleged ties to once-influential adviser Daniel Kinahan, a notorious organized crime figure whom Probellum’s executives have publicly denied has any involvement in their company.

“Regis Prograis has a promoter that has a right to try to send an offer to me, and they never did,” Ramirez said. “Probellum has no network behind them – that’s why. You know, they have no network behind them. I’m trying to push Regis to make this fight closer to a 55-45 split, a 50-50 split, and take 10 percent off the top and give it to the winner, something to make Top Rank and ESPN support me in this fight, so that they could place a bid. The only thing I was left with is 35 percent of an unknown number. And at 35 percent, I ain’t gonna have the support of ESPN. That’s something that’s very unfair, very unreasonable to me. If it was 35 percent of a number over $5 million, $6 million, $7 million, that’s good. I’ll take it. I’ll take it today.

“But it could be 35 percent of $200,000, 35 percent of $500,000. Who knows what the bid is? There’s a minimum I have with Top Rank. That minimum is to protect me and to protect my value. So, there’s a minimum of what I believe I’m worth as a fighter. I just can’t be pushed into something, and they still haven’t made an offer. His promoter should’ve done their job and brought me an offer to the table. But I have a family to take care of. I’ve gotta take care of myself. I’ve got a career to protect. This is my business. … No one is really afraid, but if the business doesn’t make for someone, they shouldn’t take the fight.”

Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs), who was ranked third by the WBC, got an opportunity to fight the number one-ranked Zepeda (36-3, 28 KOs, 2 NC) for an unclaimed championship that Scotland’s Taylor vacated because the second-ranked Ramirez passed on a fall fight versus Zepeda. Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) had already planned his wedding for October and was committed to putting his family before boxing, rather than adjusting his wedding schedule to meet the WBC’s mandate.

Had Ramirez fought Zepeda for the vacant WBC title, he would’ve received a 50-50 split of 90 percent of the winning purse bid. The remaining 10 percent would’ve gone to the winner of what would’ve been a rematch of a bout Ramirez narrowly won by majority decision in February 2019.

In accordance with its rules related to fights for vacant championships, the WBC ordered the Prograis-Zepeda winner to make a mandatory defense against Ramirez in his following fight. The winner of that bout would’ve been required to make a second mandatory defense.

Former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) became the WBC’s second mandatory challenger for Prograis when he out-pointed Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin (40-3, 13 KOs) by split decision December 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“This year I decided to put boxing to the side and focus on my family,” Ramirez said. “You know, so it’s my job to get back in the ring as soon as possible as well. So, I didn’t need to try to educate a fighter about business for too long, you know? What [Prograis] doesn’t realize is that a smaller percentage, 55-45, of a bigger pie is a much better deal for him than fighting for 65 percent of a very, very small pie for fighting someone who doesn’t generate what I’ll generate. Because I doubt Teofimo is gonna fight him for 35 percent.”

Now that the WBC has approved Prograis’ optional title defense, Ramirez will fight another opponent March 25 on ESPN. Former IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey is the frontrunner to become his opponent for what would be Ramirez’s first fight in over a year.

Ghana’s Commey (30-4-1, 27 KOs) fought to a 10-round split draw with Jose Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs) in his most recent fight, which took place August 27 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ramirez decisively defeated Puerto Rico’s Pedraza in his last bout, a 12-rounder March 4 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, near Ramirez’s hometown of Avenal.

“Richard Commey has tremendous skills and power,” Ramirez said. “He can make an exciting fight. He throws a lot of punches. What excites me the most is the fight that will come after my first fight coming back. I’ve been away from the ring for quite a bit. So, I think a fighter like Richard Commey will definitely help take my rust off. And it’s competitive, which keeps me motivated. But I’m willing to take a couple weeks off, get back in the gym and get back in a big fight in late July, August or September.”

If Ramirez beats Commey and Prograis isn’t an option for his subsequent bout, Ramirez realizes he would have attractive alternatives within Top Rank’s stable for what would be the last fight on his current contract with Arum’s company.

“It seems like [Prograis is] not in a hurry to get back in the ring,” Ramirez said. “He wants to enjoy his vacation after his great win. You know, I can really understand that. He wants to take some time off. He doesn’t wanna get back in the ring in March. I wanna get back in the ring. I wanna be as active as possible. Listen, at the end of the day, man, there’s Devin Haney moving up to 140, there’s Teofimo Lopez at 140, there’s Josh Taylor at 140, there’s [Jack] Catterall at 140.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.