After weeks of negotiating terms for their mandatory title fight, finding a home for Jose Ramirez’s unified 140-pound title defense versus Viktor Postol should be simple by comparison.
“Anywhere in the world,” Carl Moretti, vice president of boxing operations for Top Rank told BoxingScene.com of potential locations—and the comment isn’t as vague as it sounds. “It’s been discussed but that’s one part not (yet) figured out.”
The respective teams for Ramirez (25-0, 17KOs)—Moretti representing Top Rank, as well as Ramirez’s longtime manager, Rick Mirigian—and Ukraine’s Postol (31-2, 12KOs)—represented by TGB Promotions’ Tom Brown—spent weeks going back and forth in working out a number to satisfy all parties and avoid a World Boxing Council (WBC) assigned purse bid hearing. The session was twice postponed and ultimately canceled altogether reached terms on Oct. 30, shortly before the matter was due to be made available to the highest bidder.
With the financial terms worked out, the next step is figuring out when and where to stage the contest. Venues as close as Ramirez’s home region in California’s Central Valley and as far as China are in serious contention to host the two-belt title fight on Feb. 1, with all indications strongly leaning towards the latter. Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum has long mentioned the possibility of staging a major ESPN show in China, with this fight perfectly fitting the bill since World light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15KOs) won’t be ready to go in time to satisfy that fight date.
The card will mark the second straight year where Top Rank and ESPN present a boxing telecast on the eve of the Super Bowl, a formula which proved to be a big hit earlier this year.
“[Feb. 1] is the target date,” Moretti noted. “It’s a perfect platform for any fighter, it’s the biggest sports weekend of the year. So why not Jose Ramirez? He’s a unified world champion at 140 pounds, and the timing works out physically after his thumb surgery.”
Ramirez will attempt the fourth overall defense of at least one title, and his first as a unified titlist. The unbeaten 27-year old is coming off the best win of his career, a 6th round knockout of previously unbeaten Maurice Hooker in their title unification clash this past July on the road in Arlington, Texas. Hopes of getting in a third fight on the year against either mandatory—Postol, or England’s Jack Catterall (27-0, 13KOs) were thwarted when a thumb injury forced Ramirez to the bench for the remainder of 2019.
With the positioning of his next fight, there exists the possibility of fighting three times in 2020, perhaps even capping the year with an undisputed showdown versus fellow unbeaten and unified titlist Josh Taylor. Both are loaded up with mandatory title defense obligations but are already receptive to the idea of a head-on collision.
“As long as the both keep winning, why not,” notes Moretti. “But, as you unify titles, you have to make the decision whether to satisfy or not satisfy your mandatories. Jose greatly respects the WBC title, which is why we’re proceeding with this fight.
“It’s also why we can’t start jumping too far ahead. First, we have to get past Postol. There’s a long way to go before we get to Josh Taylor, but this is the right path to get there.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox