Jose Ramirez insists there is nothing else that will hold up his quest to return to the top of the junior welterweight division.
The former unified WBC/WBO titlist posted his second straight win with an eleventh-round knockout of Richard Commey, a past IBF lightweight titlist who has seen his best days. Their ESPN-televised headliner from Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California—near Ramirez’s Avenal home base—was a consolation prize following talks that fell flat and which failed to produce a showdown with WBC junior welterweight titlist Regis Prograis.
Saturday’s win ended a 55-week layoff for Ramirez, who now wants to be more active and also wants the best name possible. At the top of his list is hopes of renewing talks with Prograis as well as a shot at the winner of the June 10 Josh Taylor-Teofimo Lopez lineal/WBO 140-pound championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“I want any world champion,” insisted Ramirez. “Regis Prograis. I want the winner of Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez. I want to get that rematch. You always want to get that rematch after a tough loss.”
Ramirez’s unified title reign came to an end, as did his undefeated ways after a narrow defeat to Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) in their May 2021 undisputed championship between unbeaten, unified titlists. Taylor won by scores of 114-112 on all three cards to defend his WBA and IBF belts and win the WBC and WBO titles.
The only belt still in Taylor’s possession is the WBO. The other three were relinquished in lieu of honoring separate mandatory title defenses. Ramirez was in line to challenge for the vacant WBC title in what would have been a rematch with Jose Zepeda but was unable to commit due to the timing of his long-ago planned wedding to his longtime partner, with whom he is now expecting their third child together.
Prograis (28-1, 24KOs) was the benefactor and capitalized on the moment as he knocked out Zepeda in the eleventh round of their vacant title fight last November 26 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The WBC soon thereafter ordered a Prograis-Ramirez mandatory title fight.
Talks did not go anywhere other than directly to a planned purse bid hearing. Ramirez and Top Rank lobbied the WBC to modify the standard 70-30 split in favor of the defending champion, as Ramirez is the considerably bigger draw of the two. The WBC came back with a 65-35 compromise, which still was not good enough for the former titlist who passed on the opportunity and instead returned home to face Commey in a title eliminator.
The main goal now is to not go another year between fights. Ramirez has fought just once per year since the pandemic and is eager to break that pattern. He claims to equally embrace another shot at making a fight with Prograis if it means not having to wait out the Taylor-Lopez winner.
“If Regis is serious about the fight, let’s sit down and talk – and stop the BS,” insisted Ramirez. “Let’s sit down and make the fight happen. Have your management do their part. We’re going to sit down and make the fight happen if your serious about it.
“I want to fight two or three times. That’s the goal this year. I want to fight two more times and I want to be back by September.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox