Jose Ramirez has two mandatory title defenses due.
Ramirez might have to make those mandated defenses of his WBC and WBO 140-pound championships in back-to-back bouts. The unbeaten, unified champion would prefer, however, to fight undefeated IBF/WBA champ Josh Taylor in his following fight if Ramirez overcomes Viktor Postol.
The fight was scheduled to headline an ESPN card on February 1 from Mission Hills Resort Haikou in Haikou, China.
But the event was postpone due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Top Rank is currently working to reschedule the fight to a new date in the very near future.
Ukraine’s Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) is the mandatory challenger for Ramirez’s WBC super lightweight title, a championship Postol once owned. England’s Jack Catterall (25-0, 13 KOs) is Ramirez’s mandatory challenger for his WBO junior welterweight championship.
Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs), of Avenal, California, has mentioned boxing Postol and Catterall in consecutive contests that would be completed before the end of this year, but that was before Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Ramirez’s promoter, signed Taylor to a promotional deal.
“The mandatories were given to me before the signing of Taylor,” Ramirez said during a recent conference call. “And I guess there was a mandatory [Catterall] if I was to beat [former WBO champ] Maurice Hooker that was gonna be next. So, there’s no secret that [I’d be] having those mandatories right after I beat Hooker. But if it was up to me, I would rather face Josh Taylor and go straight to Josh Taylor if I take care of business [against Postol]. That would be what I would wish. That would be my first idea.
“But like Bob [Arum] mentioned, if Taylor has a mandatory that he has to do, depending on the time, I wouldn’t wanna wait too long. I wanna stay active. So, if that gives me room for me to fight [Catterall] before the Taylor fight, then I’ll make that decision, too.”
Scotland’s Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) is going to make a mandated defense of his IBF junior welterweight title in his next fight against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs). The date and site for that fight haven’t been determined, but the timing could allow Ramirez to oppose Postol and Catterall, and then Taylor later this year if he wins both bouts and Taylor overcomes Khongsong.
“The unification fight could be next,” Arum said, “but we’ll see. … We’ll see when Taylor is available, when his fight will be, his next fight. Listen, everybody is working together to present the best possible action to the public. And it may very well be that we decide that Jose beats Postol, does another mandatory and in November fights Taylor. Or, we get an exception from the WBO mandatory and go right to Taylor. All of that will be discussed with Jose, his team, with Taylor and his team. We’re all just bound and determined to give the public what they want, great fights.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.