Jose Ramirez absolutely loathes that he is being perceived as a “ducker.”

The former unified junior welterweight titlist from Avenal, California, recently declined a title shot against WBC champion Regis Prograis, because he believed the terms of the purse split were unfair and not reflective of his commercial value. The WBC decreed a 65-35 split in favor of the champion, Prograis, which Ramirez and his team felt was a nonstarter, given Ramirez’s accomplishments and the fact that he is a proven local draw in the Central California region, unlike Prograis, a New Orleans native who lives in Houston.

The purse split is the central bone of contention because Ramirez’s promoter, Top Rank, refuses to do business or negotiate with Prograis’ promoter, Probellum. Earlier this year, Bob Arum, Top Rank’s head, publicly declared his company would not do any business connected to the alleged Irish cartel boss Daniel Kinahan. Arum named Probellum as one entity. Probellum head Richard Schaefer has repeatedly denied that claim.

Ramirez, meanwhile, feels that he has been caught in the middle of a corporate struggle, which has unfairly led to the widespread perception that he is afraid of Prograis. This perception is not new; it cropped up years ago around 2018, 2019, when the two fighters’ names were first linked. Ramirez’s manager, Rick Mirigian, has lately been on the warpath, trying to mitigate the PR damage done to his charge, saying that accepting the purse split is fiscally indefensible and foolhardy. From a marketing point of view, Mirigian pointed out that there is a clear-cut discrepancy between Top Rank and Probellum; the former boasts a considerable output deal with ESPN, while the latter does not not have a comparable relationship with a leading American sports network. Prograis’ manager, Sam Katkovski, however, fired back, saying nobody from Ramirez's side actually tried to initiate negotiations.

In a recent Instagram Live session with Elie Seckbach, a visibly frustrated Ramirez let off some steam, saying he believes he is being “thrown under the bus.”

“Unfortunately, this is where I get thrown under the bus,” Ramirez said of his situation. “Top Rank does not do business with Probellum. They don’t care about Probellum or their fighters. That’s why I’m getting thrown under the bus, bro. I got two fights with Top Rank. And hopefully they either get me a big fight with [fellow Top Rank stablemate] Teofimo [Lopez]. But those are decisions I gotta make.”

Ramirez also indicated that he is eager to establish himself at the 147-pound limit, a division that his promoter currently does not specialize in. Ramirez said once his contract is up with Top Rank, he might consider linking up with a rival promoter that can get him meaningful fights with welterweights. At the same time, Ramirez believes that there is plenty of “in-house” talent at Top Rank that he can face in the immediate future, such as Lopez, the former unified lightweight champion, and fellow contender Arnold Barboza Jr.  

“I wanna fight Teofimo, but the decisions of what happens next for my career, [for example] if I [end up] go[ing] with a different promoter that has more 147 pounders , you know, because I want to move up to 147, too,” Ramirez said. “I’ve been at 140 for all my career. It’s time for me to also get bigger and let my body get big. There’s great fights that I can make with Top Rank. There’s Arnold Barboza, I’ll fight Arnold Barboza in the summer, or Teofimo in the summer. Those are great fights that can generate in-house money. I’m not afraid of fighting anybody, bro."

“He’s a great fighter," Ramirez said of Prograis, but unfortunately he’s with a promoter that has no network. And unfortunately for me, I’m with a promoter that doesn’t do business with his promoter.”  

Ironically, Ramirez would not be in this situation if he decided to face Jose Zepeda for the vacant WBC 140-pound title. Ramirez declined that opportunity because he was going to get married during the same period. That is when Prograis stepped in and filled in for Ramirez. Prograis wound up stopping Zepeda in the 11th round last month.

“Now, being engaged in 2019 ... I just had to get married,” Ramirez said. “Now people want to throw that under the bus, like marriage isn’t important, bro? That’s what’s wrong with society. I’m still a Christian, bro.

“What pisses me off right now, bro, is that I'm being thrown under the bus. I’m being thrown under the bus, bro.”

Later on in the Instagram Live session, Prograis also made an appearance. Ramirez pitched him on the idea of fighting later once his contract with Top Rank was over.

“Listen my contract with Top Rank is not so far out, bro,” Ramirez said. “Once I’m a free agent, we can look for the promoter that pays us the most. I’m not afraid of fighting you, bro.”