Jose Ramirez will likely head back home for his first fight as a former champion.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that plans are in motion for a junior welterweight bout between Ramirez and Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza. The fight is not yet finalized but is targeted to take place next February 5 at Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California according to Top Rank officials.
ESPN.com boxing insider Mike Coppinger was the first to report the news.
Ramirez (26-1, 17KOs) will make his first ring appearance since a heartbreaking twelve-round decision defeat to Scotland’s Josh Taylor (18-0, 13KOs) in their memorable May 22 clash for the undisputed junior welterweight championship. The loss ended Ramirez’s three-plus year WBC title reign, having made four successful defenses including a July 2019 knockout of Maurice Hooker to win the WBO belt on the road in Arlington, Texas.
The 2012 U.S. Olympian and former titlist will now head to his home area, assuming a deal is reached with Pedraza. Ramirez—who hails from nearby Avenal, California—has fought seven times before in Fresno including four at the Save Mart Arena and has proven to be a massive draw on every occasion. His last fight in the region came in February 2019, claiming a narrow win over top contender Jose Zepeda (35-2, 27KOs) as part of his title reign.
Pedraza (29-3, 14KOs) has emerged as a bubble contender in the junior welterweight division after a rough introduction in a ten-round loss to Zepeda in September 2019.
Three wins have followed for the former junior lightweight and lightweight titlist from Cidra, Puerto Rico, all taking place in Las Vegas. In his most recent start, Pedraza—who represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Beijing Olympics—stopped previously unbeaten Julian Rodriguez after the eighth round of their otherwise tightly contested affair June 12 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
The winner will serve as a formidable challenger to Taylor, who will face England’s Jack Catterall later that month, The fight was due to take place December 18, only for Taylor to suffer an injury which postponed the WBO mandatory title (also with the lineal/WBA/WBC/IBF titles at stake) to February 26 in Glasgow.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox