All of the light-welterweight marbles will be on the line when Scot Josh Taylor and Californian Jose Carlos Ramirez meet to unify the crown on May 22.
Taylor, 17-0, holds the WBA and IBF titles having emerged victorious from the World Boxing Super Series at 140lbs. Ramirez, 26-0, owns the WBC and WBO belts and they will share one of the 2021’s most-anticipated fights.
For many it’s too close to call, a 50/50 fight, but Taylor’s trainer Ben Davison envisages a different night.
“I think it’s perceived as one [50/50 contest] but I don’t think that it is,” he said. “I think if Josh goes about it the right way it’s heavily in Josh’s favour.”
Taylor has boxed just one round since his Fight of the Year contender with Regis Prograis in October 2019. He defeated outgunned Apinun Khongsong in two minutes and 41 seconds behind closed doors in September.
“It is what it is, really,” conceded Davison of the inactivity. “His preparation will be exactly what it needs to be, it’s just a question of Josh listening and following the game plan that will see him do the job and do it, I believe, in spectacular fashion as well.”
The fight will be in Las Vegas. Davison has already been involved in one superfight Stateside when he was training heavyweight Tyson Fury for his first bout with Deontay Wilder. The Gypsy King famously rose from the deck but the fight was scored a controversial draw and Davison was outraged at the time. He’s not worried about Taylor not getting a fair shake in Sin City.
“Not really if I’m honest,” he went on. “I don’t see it having to go to the scorecards if Josh goes about it the right way.”
But Ramirez is a quality champion, hugely popular in California and enormously capable. Davison appreciates that.
“Take away his boxing ability for a minute, he’s a God-fearing man, a big, strong guy, he’s a world champion, he’s got Mexican blood and he’s got the will to win, that alone brings its own challenges,” said the trainer. “Any man with those attributes is a hard man to beat. Then add in the fact that he’s got variety, momentum, if you give him the opportunity to gain momentum [in a fight] he becomes extremely hard to get control of, so you can’t allow him to do that. In terms of other areas of his game, I believe there are areas Josh will be able to exploit.”
Ramirez has beaten Jose Zepeda, Maurice Hooker and Viktor Postol in his last three fights. Zepeda and Postol, the latter Taylor had already defeated, took him to majority decisions while Hooker was stopped in six.
Taylor’s win over the previously-undefeated Prograis is probably the best result from both records but Davison says that if Taylor doesn’t box to instruction he could be in for a harder night than he endured in his 12-round thriller with Prograis.
But is Ramirez better than Prograis?
“I think it’s a tougher fight, or it could be, depending on how Josh goes about it,” Davison explained. “Josh was able to physically manhandle Prograis, I don’t know that it will be as easy for him to manhandle Ramirez, so he needs to use his brain more in this fight than he did against Prograis.”
Davison and Taylor have only had the Khongsong fight together but they’ve spent months working at the MTK Performance Centre. The Scot has already achieved plenty in his comparatively short career but Davison thinks we are yet to see the best of the 30-year-old southpaw.
“Josh is a fantastic boxer and an Olympian but he’s become accustomed to using his physical advantages in fights and we’ve seen him marked up and be in fights that have been tougher than they’ve needed to be with the skills that he’s got,” Davison said. “It’s just a case of Josh being more concentrated, staying switched on and not making fights as hard as they are, being a little bit smarter, a little bit cuter and being consistent with that.”
Taylor is flying high but Ben said complacency won’t be an issue. The stakes are too high. Taylor hasn’t come this far just to come this far, said the coach.
“That won’t happen,” Davison added. “We wouldn’t let that happen, that’s for sure.”
But if Taylor does unify as Ben expects, then what? There’s been talk that some of the leading lightweights want to move up to face the winner while Taylor has said he has designs on moving up, too, fighting the cream at welterweight and facing his idol, Manny Pacquiao.
For Davison, though, it’s one fight at a time. There are no next fights until the Ramirez threat has been neutralized.
“There is no life until that job’s done on May 22nd,” said Davison.