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Jose Ramirez ekes past Viktor Postol, retains unified junior welterweight title by majority decision

Ramirez vs. Postol. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
29
Aug

Even before unified junior welterweight world titlist Jose Ramirez faced mandatory challenger Viktor Postol on Saturday night he freely spoke of his desire to meet fellow two-belt titlist Josh Taylor for the undisputed title.

Now, having eked out a majority decision against Postol, Ramirez did his part to earn his way into that big-time fight. He retained his two 140-pound belts by scores of 116-112 from judge Steve Weisfeld and 115-113 from Tim Cheatham while Dave Moretti had it 114-114. The Ring also had Ramirez winning 115-113 in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card inside “the bubble” of the conference center at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Ramirez won the 12th round on all three scorecards. Had Postol won the final round on Cheatham’s scorecard the fight would have been a majority draw.

As close as the fight was Ramirez can now sit back and see what happens in Taylor’s next fight.

Scotland’s Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs), in his first since unifying the division’s other two belts by close decision over Regis Prograis in the final of the World Boxing Super Series last October, must get through his own mandatory defense against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) on Sept. 26 in London. If Taylor wins, Top Rank, which promotes both titleholders, plans to make the undisputed championship fight, possibly as soon as December.

“I think I could show more than I did and when I fight Josh Taylor I’m gonna show that,” Ramirez said, adding that he would be willing to fight Taylor in the United Kingdom if necessary.

First, Ramirez had to handle his business in the third attempt to fight the cagey Postol, a former titleholder, whose two previous losses came by unanimous decision to Terence Crawford in a 140-pound title unification fight in 2016 and to Taylor in June 2018, before he won a world title.

Ramirez-Postol was initially scheduled to take place on Feb. 1 at the Mission Hills Haikou resort in Haikou, China – where “The Iceman” Postol had already traveled before it was postponed on Jan. 23 because the coronavirus pandemic was just emerging in China. The bout was rescheduled for May 9 at the Save Mart Center in Ramirez’s home region of Fresno, California, but postponed again because of the coronavirus.

After so many months of training due to the postponements both fighters had logged a lot of gym time and sparring, but it was Ramirez who seemed flat despite a successful fourth title defense.

“It was a good fight, but both men were impacted by going through three training camps and the whole situation with Covid-19,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. “That being said, I thought Jose clearly won the fight.”

Postol, a good outside fighter, tried to keep Ramirez at the end of his jab but by the later part of the first round Ramirez had already been able to work his way inside and fire body shots and right hands.

The fight soon settled into that familiar rhythm as Postol stayed on his jab and moved and Ramirez continually pressed forward looking to get inside and bang away. Both had some success with the plan they were trying to force on the other, making it a difficult fight to score.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the ring,” said Ramirez, who had not fought since unifying two belts by sixth-round knockout of Maurice Hooker 13 months ago. “There have been a lot of things that have happened in my personal life (such as his fiancé expecting a baby). It’s been such a long training camp. I think (I went) through the routine instead of, ‘Let’s fight.’”

After the sixth round, Ramirez trainer Robert Garcia was concerned enough that he told his charge that he must win the rounds clearly.

Ramirez seemed to take Garcia’s words to heart because he clearly picked up his pace in the seventh round and after forcing Postol to the ropes Ramirez rocked him with a left hand on the chin midway through the round. Ramirez then chased Postol down and nailed him with a left-right combination and a body shot in his best round of the fight to that point.

Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs), 28, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Avenal, California, continued to work the body in the eighth round and also landed another powerful left hand to the face that forced Postol, whose face was marked up, into the ropes in another very strong round for him.

Postol (31-3, 12 KOs), 36, of Ukraine, who had won two fights in a row entering the bout including a title eliminator in his last bout 16 months ago, landed perhaps his best punch of the fight in the 10th round when he seemed to buzz Ramirez with a right hand. After the round, there was urgency in Garcia’s voice as he implored Ramirez to win the final two rounds of the fight.

After Postol nailed Ramirez with a pair of right hands in the 11th round, referee Russell Mora called timeout at Postol’s urging to cut tape that had come loose from Postol’s glove.

Ramirez continued to go forward in the 12th round at Garcia’s urging and landed punches in bursts while Postol circled, jabbed and landed a couple of solid 1-2 combinations in yet another close round.

According to CompuBox statistics, Ramirez 156 of 556 punches (28-1 percent) and Postol connected with 147 of 668 (22 percent)

“I went in there a little too cold, you know? I’m much stronger than most guys think,” Ramirez said. “I just gotta not lose confidence in myself and stick to what I do best and box, let my hands go and not hesitate too much. I think there was a little bit of hesitation throughout the fight.

“I felt like I was just in a sparring session. I think I could’ve made the fight a lot easier in my favor, but we live and we learn. This was an amazing experience. I’m just happy I got the win.”