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Jose Ramirez heads to China for title defense against Viktor Postol on Feb. 2

Fighters Network

Junior welterweight Jose Ramirez will make the first defense of his unified world title belts against Viktor Postol, Top Rank announced Thursday afternoon.

The 12-round bout will take place at the Mission Hills Haikou in Haikou, Hainan, China on Sunday, Feb. 2, but will air live on ESPN on Feb. 1 (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

The Postol clash will be a stark contrast to what Ramirez is usually accustomed to; fighting at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, where he is a huge draw and not far from his hometown and farming community of Avenal.

“Haikou is on the island on Hainan,” Arum told The Ring before the fight was officially announced. “It’s the ‘Chinese Hawai’i.’ I got back from there and it’s gorgeous. It’s tremendous.”

Ramirez (25-0, 17 knockouts) added the WBO title in his last fight by stopping Maurice Hooker in a clash of unbeaten world junior welterweight titleholders on July 27. With the victory, Ramirez also retained the WBC title. After the fight, Ramirez had surgery on his left hand to repair an ongoing injury.

The 27-year-old has become a more well-rounded overall fighter in recent fights, thanks to utilizing the services of trainer Robert Garcia. While he has made it known he would like a crack at unified titleholder and World Boxing Super Series tournament winner Josh Taylor, Ramirez is not overlooking Postol.

“I am excited to defend my belts against Viktor Postol to kick off my 2020 schedule,” said Ramirez, who is managed by Rick Mirigian. “I am a world champion, so it is my honor to defend my titles in front of the great fans in China. It is going to be a great experience, and I am glad that my fans back home will be able to watch me live on ESPN. As a unified champion, I am hungrier than ever.”

Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) last fought on Apr. 27, defeating France’s Mohamed Mimoune by unanimous decision. He lost to Taylor by unanimous decision back on June 23 of last year.

The 35-year-old Postol, who is originally from the Ukraine and now resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Marina Del Rey, has fought in a unification fight before. He held the WBC title, but lost to then-WBO junior welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford in July of 2016.

Postol is confident he can pull off the significant upset victory over Ramirez.

“It’s a big opportunity for me and a big honor to share the ring with one of the best fighter in my division.” said Postol, who is managed by Vadim Kornilov. “I know Ramirez, as we sparred together in the past. I’m looking forward to a great fight in China.”

Top Rank also announced Thursday that a co-feature bout will precede the clash between Ramirez and Postol.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing