LAS VEGAS – Jose Ramirez respectfully took the high road and accepted all the blame when asked about referee Kenny Bayless following his points loss to Josh Taylor.
Bayless drew criticism from some fans and media Saturday night for not properly separating Taylor and Ramirez from a clinch late in the seventh round. Ramirez didn’t protect himself when it looked like Bayless would step between them to physically push them apart, as Bayless had done numerous times earlier in their 140-pound title unification fight.
Bayless instead held up his hands and backed off after touching Taylor’s left arm. Taylor took advantage of the situation by quickly unloading a left uppercut that knocked Ramirez flat on his back with 32 seconds remaining in the seventh round.
“I think I got a little careless when it comes to the clinching,” Ramirez said during their post-fight press conference. “You know, I’ve always been a fighter who respects my craft, you know, and I try to do things as clean as possible. But I think my mistake was being too clean. You know what I mean? And I think he took advantage from some of the clinches, you know, and that was my mistake. You know, those are some of the experiences I’ve gotta go through to be more mature and a better fighter. But my hat’s off to Josh Taylor and his team.”
Ramirez reached his feet as Bayless picked up the count at five following that second knockdown. A resilient Ramirez recovered thanks in part to 22 seconds elapsing from the time that he hit the canvas and Taylor stepped to him as the action resumed.
Bayless’ critics contend Ramirez never would’ve suffered that second knockdown had he separated them properly, but Ramirez refused to condemn the veteran Nevada-based referee.
“We’ve gotta learn how to lose and learn, you know?,” Ramirez said. “So, I don’t wanna take nothing away from the fight, from the winners. It wasn’t my night tonight and I’m very blessed I made it this far, you know?”
The 28-year-old Ramirez (26-1, 17 KOs), who lost his WBC and WBO belts to Taylor (18-0, 13 KOs), didn’t fault Scotland’s Taylor for hitting him out of that clinch, either. The Avenal, California, native instead blamed himself for not being nasty enough during a 12-round dogfight he lost by unanimous decision.
“When [Bayless] came to the locker room, you know, he made it very clear that he was gonna keep a very close eye because of the tension that he saw throughout the week,” Ramirez recalled. “You know what I mean? So, you know, that was my lack of experience, you know, to show that I was a little too nice.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.