In a rare meeting of two unbeaten and unified titleholders for the four-belt undisputed championship at 140 pounds, Scotland's Josh Taylor proved he's the best junior welterweight boxer in the world.
Taylor (18-0, 13 KOs) scored a pair of crucial knockdowns to seize back the momentum against Jose Ramirez (26-1, 17 KOs) before hanging on for a close but unanimous decision inside Virgin Hotel Las Vegas.
All three judges had it 114-112 in favor of Taylor, who unified his WBA and IBF titles with the WBC and WBO crowns previously worn by Ramirez. CBS Sports also had it for Taylor but much wider at 117-109.
While the fight didn't quite live up to its lofty expectations as an instant classic, it was fun theater just the same as both fighters kept up a quick pace without abandoning their technique or defense. Taylor outlanded Ramirez over the 12 rounds by a margin of 145 to 134, according to CompuBox.
"It was a great performance," Taylor said. "At times, I could have given him a little bit more of success by holding my feet and letting him get his punches off but I kept moving instead and never let him near me over the 12 rounds. I felt the scorecards were a little bit tight. I thought they were well wider than that."
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Taylor, a 30-year-old native of Scotland, became just the second undisputed junior welterweight champion in the four-belt era to join current WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford in 2017. Crawford, who joins Taylor under the Top Rank banner entering the final fight of his promotional deal, has coincidentally been rumored as a potential next opponent.
"We will take it as it comes," Taylor said about what's next. "The options aren't going to be small as for what is coming next."
The 28-year-old Ramirez, a native of Fresno, California, embraced Taylor in the ring after the decision was read, which was a far cry from the uncharacteristic volatility the two fighters exchanged during fight week. Taylor nearly came to blows with Ramirez in the hotel after Friday's weigh-in and the trash talk between them continued at the close of many rounds.
"I've got nothing but love for Ramirez," Taylor said. "All this week was not disrespect but just mind games to try and get in his head and try and use his aggression against him. We said that all week and that's what we did. We played the games all week but there is no disrespect and all love. I think he's a great ambassador for the sport."
CBS Sports was with you throughout the entire way on Saturday, so be sure to follow along with the live results and highlights below.
Fight card, results
- Josh Taylor def. Jose Ramirez via unanimous decision (114-112, 114-112, 114-112)
- Jose Zepeda def. Hank Lundy via unanimous decision (98-92, 98-92, 98-92)
- Kenneth Sims Jr. def. Elvis Rodriguez via majority decision (76-76, 78-74, 78-74)
Ramirez vs. Taylor scorecard, live coverage