It’s not usually you see an undefeated former Olympian with two world titles round his waist enter a boxing bout as a sizeable underdog.
However that’s precisely what’s going to occur when WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion Jose ‘Jaguar’ Ramirez 26-0 (17) steps via the ropes and into the ring at Virgin Resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada to lock horns with WBA and IBF counterpart Josh ‘The Tartan Twister’ Taylor 17-0 (13) on Saturday night time.
Bookmakers have put in Taylor as a -286 favourite towards Ramirez, who’s paying +204 head-to-head. And there may be some logic behind these odds.
Taylor made his bones by successful the second sequence of the World Boxing Tremendous Collection (WBSS) in 2019. He claimed the IBF belt of Ivan Baranchyk 20-2 (13) by clear-cut unanimous choice in Could of that 12 months and toppled beforehand undefeated WBA champion Regis Prograis 26-1 (22) by majority choice within the grand closing in October to elevate the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Throughout the identical 12 months Ramirez made the primary protection of his WBC strap with a majority choice win over tough southpaw Jose Zepeda 33-2 (26) in February earlier than knocking out then-unbeaten WBO boss Maurice Hooker 27-2-3 (18) in six rounds in July.
On paper, there wasn’t a lot to separate their achievements. But it surely was Taylor who obtained a lot of the plaudits from pundits and followers because of the high-profile nature of the WBSS.
“I do know it doesn’t matter what folks assume,” London Olympian Ramirez mentioned within the High Rank documentary Blood, Sweat and Tears.
“I do know it doesn’t matter the place folks rank me within the high pound-for-pound lists. However I do take into consideration why folks don’t actually give me the credit score I deserve once I’ve made it this far.
“When folks have a little bit doubt, I proceed successful. When folks say ‘We’ll see how he does’, I proceed successful. So every thing I’ve, I’ve earned it the precise method. The exhausting method. By my actions, by my fists.”
It’s exactly this blue-collar work ethic that impresses coach Robert Garcia a lot.
“One factor that Jose has over nearly everyone in boxing – and never solely the blokes he has fought – is that he has that he has that little bit additional to present,” the skilled coach defined.
“If it’s energy that he wants, he’s going to seek out that little additional solution to give that energy. If it’s a 12 spherical battle and he’s going via a conflict, he’s going to seek out that conditioning and that push to dominate his opponent. If it’s coronary heart, he’s going to beat his opponent due to coronary heart.
“There are fighters on the market who is likely to be extra gifted than him however his thoughts, his coronary heart, his conditioning is all the time going to be above that of his opponent.”
Taylor has fought simply two boxers of Mexican descent up to now, Alfonso Olvera in his eighth professional battle and washed former IBF light-weight titleholder Miguel Vazquez in his eleventh outing. Neither of them mix the skillset and conditioning of Ramirez, who at 28 is in his bodily prime.
“On paper this may very well be probably the most difficult battle of my profession. You’ve need to be bodily ready, so I’m preparing for that,” mentioned Ramirez, who grew up in Avenal, California and nonetheless resides within the farming group.
“After I take a look at Mexican fighters, I see two issues. One is that they’re all the time in fine condition. They are going to battle from the opening bell to the final bell. They usually hit to the physique very exhausting.
“So to beat a Mexican fighter it’s important to not simply be ready along with your conditioning, however you additionally need to be ready mentally to know that you’ll most definitely be in deep waters once you face a Mexican warrior.”
Ramirez will likely be going through a extra naturally athletic and technically proficient boxer in Taylor. The 30-year-old southpaw, who represented Scotland as a light-weight on the 2012 London Olympics, is a talented switch-hitter who’s equally adept at combating at vary as he’s in shut. He makes use of angles successfully and throws with energy and accuracy to each the physique and head.
However fights at this degree are received simply as a lot on will as they’re on ability.
“Taylor has carried out nicely in his earlier fights as a result of the blokes he has fought have given him the gap and management. However Josh has by no means confronted Jose Ramirez,” mentioned Ramirez, who is anticipated to plough ahead, bull Taylor to the ropes and attempt to work him over on the within.
“I can’t say what will work for me till it occurs. And he can’t say or assume what he thinks goes to work for him. However on the finish of the day with this battle it’s the psychological a part of the sport that’s going to make us the winner.
“My objective is to place Taylor able he has by no means been in, to check him to the boundaries that he’s by no means been earlier than.
“Private opinions from the professionals, from the followers, it don’t matter no extra. It’s not going to assist me and it’s not going to assist him.
“I’m not shocked I’ve made it this far. I knew the place my talents have been going to take me. I simply know the fighter I’m and to my eyes, I’m not speculated to lose this battle to Josh Taylor.”
The important thing to victory, in accordance with Ramirez, is thoughts over matter.
“I feel the psychological half if going to be the largest a part of this battle as a result of we’re each very skilful,” he mentioned. “I’m not flashy, I’m not dramatic. I’m targeted, I transfer ahead and I don’t let nothing get to me.”
Garcia added: “I’m assured that if the battle is tough and so shut, like a 50-50 battle, he’s all the time going to have that optimistic mentality that’s going to assist him win any battle.”
“I’ve all the time skilled just like the underdog, like that is the largest battle of my profession,” Ramirez continued.
“I don’t take coaching camp calmly. I don’t take one fighter calmly. I all the time prepare with that mentality that I wish to do that for myself and my household. That alone retains me very, very motivated.
“After each win I don’t really feel shocked. I really feel like that’s what I used to be speculated to do.”
For Ramirez, changing into the primary Mexican-American to unify all 4 main sanctioning physique titles will likely be made that a lot sweeter by one factor.
“I wish to proceed successful,” Ramirez mentioned. “To show folks fallacious, that’s simply the additional, the bonus.”
Oddsmakers and followers be damned.