Jose Ramirez looks to climb back into contention against Jose Pedraza this Friday
Jose Ramirez admits he was not too pleased with himself last May, after he lost by a close unanimous decision to Josh Taylor for the world junior welterweight championship. There were some things rattling around Ramirez’s head. He was better than that—and he knew it. He never experienced a pro loss before and wondered how he would react when it happened.
He found out the world kept spinning. He made an introspective look at himself and found he is strong. He found out a loss did not change his world. And he found out those close to him would abandon him. He admits he’s always been his harshest critic. What the Taylor loss did was enable Ramirez to gain a new threshold. It allowed him to see some flaws and correct them.
This Friday, Ramirez (26-1, 17 knockouts) will return to the ring after a 10-month layoff to face former two-division titlist Jose Pedraza (29-3, 14 KOs) in a 12-round junior welterweight bout from the Fresno Save Mart Center, in Fresno, California, Ramirez’s hometown, on a Top Rank show ESPN+.
“My ultimate goal in boxing is to be known as someone who never took an easy fight, who always fought hard, who never settled for less and always gave the fans his best,” Ramirez said. “Before the Taylor fight, I was more afraid to lose than I imagined. I learned I could live with it. I don’t like, but I can live with it. I still feel I won. But I found out how many people love me and support me. It’s funny how you take the support you have for granted. But when something like this happens, you really find out that you have. I found that out.”
“One thing that really stood out to me afterward was how Taylor really is as a fighter. People saw that he’s a dirty fighter. People saw that he didn’t win because he’s the better fighter, but because he’ll take any little opportunity he can, even if it’s a clean one to his advantage. People got to see he’s not as great a fighter as people thought he was.
Asked if he watched Taylor’s controversial split-decision victory over mandatory challenger Jack Catterall on Saturday to retain The Ring/WBC/IBF/WBA and WBO 140-pound titles, Ramirez said he caught a little bit of the tail end. Ramirez was not impressed.
“One thing that really stood out to me afterward was how Taylor really is as a fighter,” Ramirez said. “People saw that he’s a dirty fighter. People saw that he didn’t win because he’s the better fighter, but because he’ll take any little opportunity he can, even if it’s a clean one to his advantage. People got to see he’s not as great a fighter as people thought he was. Again, when I look at my fight with him, it’s a fight I lost, because I let that fight get out of my control by respecting the referee and allowing myself to get hit on what I thought was a break (when he was knocked down in the seventh round).
“He fought dirty. The one thing I didn’t do was fight dirty back. He clinched a lot, and I must do better with clinches. In that seventh round, I thought I was winning the round.”
In Ramirez’s fateful seventh against Taylor, the fighters clinched late. When veteran referee Kenny Bayless separated them, he backed away, giving Taylor an opening to land a left uppercut that knocked down Ramirez with 32 seconds remaining in the seventh.
“Hey, I think I took something out of Taylor,” Ramirez said. “I wanted a rematch, but now he has to over-deliver in his next fight, because saw what happened on Saturday. I have a job to do and I’m fighting an experienced, world-class fighter in Pedraza. My fight with Taylor was close, and if I didn’t get knocked down, I know I would have won. I won a rematch, but I want to earn that rematch. This is the start. It’s why I want to fight Pedraza. He’s earned his place as one of the best 140-pounders in the world.”
Taylor has had issues making 140, so his last appearance at junior welterweight may have been Saturday. Ramirez is The Ring’s No. 2 contender at 140, and Pedraza holds the No. 8 slot.
“Pedraza switches hands, he’s a very experienced boxer, he’s very crafty and there are a lot of things Jose does well,” Ramirez said. “One of the things I need to address is that the world has to see that I’m a much stronger Jose Ramirez than I was last May. I’ll adjust if I have to. My weight is great. I hired a fulltime chef for my camp and my lifestyle has been very clean. I want to be back in the championship hunt again. The world is going to see a good fight in a great arena. It’s going to be a spectacular show. I’m hoping to show the world the best Jose Ramirez.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.