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The Sweet Science rankings are from the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (www.tbrb.org), in support of the most authoritative rankings in the world today.  These are the rankings as of February 7th, 2017

P4P

Rank Name Nationality Record Division
1 Roman Gonzalez * NIC 46-0-0 (38) Jr. Bantamweight
2 Andre Ward USA 30-0-0 (15) Light Heavyweight
3 Sergey Kovalev RUS 30-1-1 (26) Light Heavyweight
4 Manny Pacquiao PHI 59-6-2 (38) Welterweight
5 Terence Crawford USA 29-0-0 (20) Jr. Welterweight
6 Gennady Golovkin KAZ 36-0-0 (31) Middleweight
7 Vasyl Lomachenko UKR 7-1-0 (5) Jr. Lightweight
8 Naoya Inoue JPN 12-0-0 (10) Jr. Bantamweight
9 Leo Santa Cruz USA 33-1-1- (18) Featherweight
10 Shinsuke Yamanaka JPN 27-0-2 (19) Bantamweight

* Champions recognized by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

Heavyweight

Rank
Name
Record – G-P-E (KO)
Nationality
Ult. Semana
corona af0e0 OPEN ***
1 Anthony Joshua 18-0-0 (18) ENG 2
2 Luis Ortiz 27-0-0 (23) CUB 3
3 Deontay Wilder 36-0-0 (35) USA 4
4 Joseph Parker 19-0-0 (16) NZ 5
5 Kubrat Pulev 23-1-0 (12) BUL 6
6 Carlos Takam 33-3-1 (25) CMR 7
7 Andy Ruiz 29-1-0 (19) USA 8
8 Christian Hammer 20-4-0 (11) ROM 9
9 Dillian Whyte 20-1-0 (15) ENG 10
10 Tony Bellew 29-2-1 (19) ENG

Cruiserweight (200lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Oleksandr Usyk 11-0-0 (10) UKR 1
2 Murat Gassiev 24-0-0 (17) RUS 2
3 Denis Lebedev 29-3-0 (22) RUS 3
4 Krzysztof Glowacki 26-1-0 (16) POL 4
5 Tony Bellew 28-2-1 (18) ENG 5
6 Marco Huck 40-3-1 (27) GER 6
7 Mairis Briedis 21-0-0 (18) LVA 7
8 Krzysztof Wlodarczyk 52-3-1 (20) POL 8
9 Yunier Dorticos 21-0-0 (20) CUB 9
10 Maksim Vlasov 37-2-0 (20) RUS 10

Light Heavyweight (175lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 Adonis Stevenson 28-1-0 (23) CAN ***
1 Andre Ward 31-0-0 (15) USA 1
2 Sergey Kovalev 30-1-1 (26) RUS 2
3 Joe Smith Jr. 22-1-0 (18) USA 3
4 Nathan Cleverly 30-3-0 (16) WLS 4
5 Sullivan Barrera 18-1-0 (13) CUB 5
6 Eleider Alvarez 22-0-0 (10) COL 7
7 Artur Beterbiev 11-0-0 (10) RUS 6
8 Juergen Braehmer 48-3-0 (35) GER 8
9 Oleksandr Gvozdk 12-0-0 (10) UKR 9
10 Marcus Browne 19-0-0 (14) USA 10

Super Middleweight (168lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 ***
1 James DeGale 23-1-0 (14) ENG 1
2 Badou Jack 20-1-1 (12) SWE 2
3 George Groves 24-3-0 (18) ENG 3
4 Gilberto Ramirez 34-0-0 (24) MEX 4
5 Anthony Dirrell 28-1-1 (22) USA 5
6 Arthur Abraham 44-5-0 (29) GER 6
7 Lucian Bute 32-3-1 (25) CAN 7
8 Callum Smith 21-0-0 (16) ENG 8
9 Andre Dirrell 25-2-0 (16) USA 9
10 Martin Murray 34-4-1 (16) ENG 10

Middleweight (160lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
corona af0e0 Saul Alvarez 48-1-1 (33) MEX ***
1 Gennady Golovkin 35-0-0 (32) KAZ 1
2 Daniel Jacobs 32-1-0 (29) USA 2
3 Billy Joe Saunders 23-0-0 (12) ENG 3
4 David Lemieux 35-3-0 (32) CAN 4
5 Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam 35-2-0 (21) CMR 5
6 Chris Eubank Jr. 23-1-0 (18) ENG 6
7 Avtandil Khurtsidze 32-2-2 (21) GEO 7
8 Sergiy Derevyanchenko 32-2-2 (21) RUS 8
9 Jorge Sebastian Heiland 28-4-2 (15) ARG 9
10 Ryota Murata 12-0-0 (9) JAP 10

Junior Middleweight (154lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0  VACANTE  –  –  –
1 Saul Alvarez 48-1-1 (34) MEX 1
2 Erislandy Lara 23-2-2 (13) USA 2
3 Jermall Charlo 24-0-0 (17) CUB 3
4 Demetrius Andrade 23-0-0 (16) USA 4
5 Jermell Charlo 28-0-0 (11) USA 5
6 Austin Trout 30-3-0 (17) USA 6
7 Vanes Martirosyan 36-3-1 (21) USA 7
8 Jarrett Hurd 20-0-0 (14) USA 8
9 Justin DeLoach 17-1-0 (9) USA 9
10 Erickson Lubin 18-0-0 (13) USA

Welterweight (147lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Manny Pacquiao 59-6-2 (38) PHI 1
2 Kell Brook 36-1-0 (25) ENG 2
3 Keith Thurman 27-0-0 (22) USA 3
4 Timothy Bradley 33-2-1 (13) USA 4
5 Shawn Porter 26-2-1 (16) USA 5
6 Errol Spence Jr 21-0-0 (18) USA 6
7 Danny Garcia 32-0-0 (18) USA 7
8 Jessie Vargas 27-1-0 (10) USA 8
9 Lamont Peterson 35-3-1 (17) USA 9
10 Felix Diaz 18-1-0 (8) DOM 10

Junior Welterweight (140lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 Terence Crawford 29-0-0 (20) USA ***
1 Viktor Postol 28-1-0 (12) UKR 1
2 Julius Indongo 21-0-0 (11) NAM 2
3 Adrien Broner 32-2-0 (24) USA 3
4 Sergey Lipinets 11-0-0 (9) KAZ 4
5 John Molina Jr. 29-7-0 (23) USA 5
6 Ruslan Provodnikov 25-5-0 (18) RUS 6
7 Antonio Orozco 25-0-0 (16) USA 7
8 Adrian Granados 18-4-2 (12) USA 8
9 Ricky Burns 41-5-1 (14) SCO 9
10 Ohara Davies 15-0-0 (12) ENG

Lightweight (135lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Mikey Garcia 36-0-0 (30) USA 1
2 Jorge Linares 41-3-0 (27) VEN 2
3 Terry Flanagan 31-0-0 (12) ENG 3
4 Rances Barthelemy 25-0-0 (13) CUB 4
5 Robert Easter Jr. 18-0-0 (14) USA 5
6 Anthony Crolla 31-5-3 (14) ENG 6
7 Dejan Zlaticanin 22-0-0 (15) MNE 7
8 Denis Shafikov 38-2-1 (20) RUS 8
9 Petr Petrov 38-4-2 (18) RUS 9
10 Richard Commey 24-2-0 (22) GHA 10

Junior Lightweight (130lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Vasyl Lomachenko 7-1-0 (4) UKR 1
2 Jezreel Corrales 20-1-0 (8) PAN 2
3 Miguel Berchelt 31-1-0 (28) MEX 3
4 Takashi Miura 31-3-2 (24) JPN 4
5 Orlando Salido 42-13-4 (30) MEX 5
6 Francisco Vargas 23-0-2 (17) MEX 6
7 Jason Sosa 20-1-4 (15) USA 7
8 Gervaonta Davis 17-0-0 (16) USA 8
9 Roman Martinez 29-3-3 (17) PR 9
10 Takashi Uchiyama 24-2-1 (20) JAP 10

Featherweight (126lbs)

Rank Name5 Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Leo Santa Cruz 33-1-1 (18) USA 1
2 Carl Frampton 23-0-0 (14) NRL 2
3 Simpiwe Vetyeka 29-3-0 (17) RSA 3
4 Lee Selby 23-1-0 (8) WLS 4
5 Gary Russell, Jr. 27-1-0 (16) USA 5
6 Abner Mares 30-2-1 (15) MEX 6
7 Oscar Valdez 21-0-0 (19) MEX 7
8 Joseph Diaz Jr. 23-0-0 (13) USA 8
9 Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar 28-2-0 (21) ARG 9
10 Oscar Escandon 25-2-0 (17) COL 10

Junior Featherweight (122lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 Guillermo Rigondeaux 17-0-0 (11) CUB ***
1 Jessie Magdaleno 24-0-0 (17) USA 1
2 Nonito Donaire 37-4-0 (24) PHI 2
3 Rey Vargas 28-0-0 (22) MEX 4
4 Yukinori Oguni 19-1-1 (07) JAP 3
5 Jonathan Guzman 22-1-0 (22) DOM 5
6 Hugo Ruiz 36-4-0 (32) MEX 6
7 Shingo Wake 20-5-2 (12) JPN 7
8 Genesis Servania 28-0-0 (11) PHI 8
9 Moises Flores 25-0-0 (17) MEX 9
10 Nehomar Cermeno 26-5-1 (15) VEN 10

Bantamweight (118lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Shinsuke Yamanaka 26-0-2 (18) JPN 1
2 Zhanat Zhakiyanov 27-1-0 (18) KAZ 2
3 Rau’shee Warren 14-1-0 (4) USA 3
4 Juan Carlos Payano 17-1-0 (8) DR 4
5 Jamie McDonnell 29-2-1 (13) ENG 5
6 Liborio Solis 25-5-1 (11) VEN 6
7 Anselmo Moreno 36-5-1 (12) PAN 7
8 Marlon Tapales 29-2-0 (12) PHI 8
9 Lee Haskins 34-3-0 (14) ENG 9
10 Luis Nery 20-0-0 (14) MEX 10

Junior Bantamweight (115lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Naoya Inoue 11-0-0 (9) JPN 1
2 Roman Gonzalez 46-0-0 (38) NIC 2
3 Carlos Cuadras 35-1-1 (27) MEX 3
4 Khalid Yafai 21-0-0 (14) ENG 4
5 Srisaket Sor Rungvisai 41-4-1 (38) THA 5
6 Jerwin Ancajas 25-1-1 (16) PHI 6
7 Luis Concepcion 35-5-0 (24) PAN 7
8 Norberto Jimenez 25-8-4 (13) DR 8
9 Takuma Inoue 8-2-0 (2) JPN 9
10 Juan Francisco Estrada 34-2-0 (24) MEX 10

Flyweight (112lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 VACANTE ***
1 Johnriel Casimero 23-3-0 (15) PHI 1
2 Kazuto Ioka 20-1-0 (12) JPN 2
3 Donnie Nietes 39-1-4 (22) PHI 3
4 Juan Carlos Reveco 37-3-0 (19) ARG 4
5 Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep 41-3-0 (27) THA 6
6 Juan Hernandez Navarrete 34-2–0 (25) MEX
7 McWilliams Arroyo 36-3-0 (19) PR 5
8 Daigo Higa 10-0-0 (10) JPN 7
9 Takuya Kogawa 27-4-0 (13) JPN 9
10 Vincent Legrand 24-0-0 (14) FRA 10

Junior Flyweight (108lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Pedro Guevara 28-2-1 (17) MEX 1
2 Ryoichi Taguchi 25-2-1 (11) JPN 2
3 Carlos Canizales 16-0-1 (13) VEN 3
4 Kosei Tanaka 8-0-0 (5) JPN 4
5 Ganigan Lopez 28-6-0 (17) MEX 5
6 Akira Yaegashi 24-5-1 (12) JPN 6
7 Moises Fuentes 24-2-1 (13) MEX 7
8 Rey Loreto 23-13-0 (15) PHI 8
9 Jonathan Taconing 22-2-1 (18) PHI 9
10 Jesse Espinas 15-2-0 (10) PHI 10

Strawweight (105lbs)

Rank Name Record – G-P-E (KO) Nationality Ult. Semana
 corona af0e0 VACANTE
1 Wanheng Menayothin 43-0-0 (17) THA 1
2 Knockout CP Freshmart 13-0-0 (6) THA 2
3 Jose Argumedo 19-3-1 (11) MEX 3
4 Byron Rojas 18-3-3 (8) NIC 4
5 Katsunari Takayama 31-8-0 (12) JPN 5
6 Carlos Buitrago 29-2-1 (17) NIC 6
7 Melvin Jerusalem 11-1-0 (7) PHI 7
8 Saul Juarez 23-5-1 (12) MEX 8
9 Simphiwe Khonco 17-5-0 (7) RSA 9
10 Petchmanee Kokietgym 16-0-0 (9) THA 10

 

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

The super bantamweight division was virtually unknown by most fans of prizefighting for the last decade.

Then Danny Roman arrived and re-booted the 122-pound division virtually by himself by challenging and defeating world champions from Japan and the United Kingdom.

Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) no longer holds the world titles but itches to regain his footing when he fights Ricardo Espinoza (25-3, 21 KOs) at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday May 15. Showtime will televise the battle on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

“Everything I do in boxing from here on out is to regain my status as a world champion,” said the normally ultra-reserved Roman, 31.

Ironically, both Roman and Espinoza turned their careers around with numerous battles at boxing shows in Ontario, California. They entered as boys and emerged as battle-tested men.

For the last 20 years Thompson Boxing Promotions has been pumping out world champions and contenders at a furious rate despite their small size in Southern California. They do not pamper or cajole their prospects.

Both Roman and Espinoza suffered their first losses as professionals at Thompson Boxing’s bloody battles at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. But despite losing, they continued to learn and evolve. Now they meet in Los Angeles on the big stage.

When Roman lost to Japan’s Takashi Okada in 2011 and Juan Reyes in 2013, that could have derailed the Los Angeles-based fighter for good. Instead, he re-grouped and reloaded to become a unified world champion. Roman traveled to Japan and won the WBA super bantamweight world title by stoppage of Shun Kubo in 2017. A couple of years later after several defenses, he clashed with WBO super bantamweight titlist TJ Doheny to win an incredible battle by decision in Los Angeles. It was perhaps the Fight of the Year in 2019 and gained Roman the WBO belt.

Though Roman lost both the WBA and WBO titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev, it was a disputed split decision. Many felt Roman was the true winner. So now he must battle back toward the top.

Espinoza also fought many bloody affairs at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario including his first two losses. He lost to Sam Rodriguez in 2016 and Christian Nieto in 2017. Then the power-punching fighter from Tijuana, Mexico knocked out 12 of 13 of his opponents to gain a world title fight that he lost in April 2019. Since then, he has returned to his winning ways and upset undefeated Brandon Valdes last year.

“Danny Roman has fought some really quality opponents that are high in the rankings, but this is my time. This is when I show that I can step up in competition and prove that I belong with the best,” said Espinoza who is very familiar with Roman.

The Tijuana fighter is a punching machine.

“This is not going to be an easy fight because I know my opponent is a tough fighter from Tijuana who is coming with everything he’s got. He’s got a lot of power, so I must be smart on how I throw my combinations,” said Roman who lives within 10 miles of the event. “I believe my experience in big fights is going to be the difference on May 15. I’m expecting a rough fight and I’m ready for an intense battle.”

Now the two veterans of the Ontario, California wars finally meet each other to see who advances toward a world title fight. They won’t have to look far. The main event pits two titleholders against each other.

Unification Battle for Super Bantam Belts

Mexico’s Luis Nery holds the WBC super bantamweight world title and faces Texan Brandon Figueroa who holds a version of the WBA super bantamweight title in the main event on the Dignity Health Sports Park card on Saturday. Showtime will televise.

Nery formerly held the bantamweight title too. But the Tijuana-based fighter had problems making weight and wisely moved up a weight division. So far, the extra pounds hasn’t been a problem.

The problem facing Nery is Figueroa has a solid chin.

Figueroa may look like a pretty boy but he fights like he’s ugly. The Weslaco, Texas native has firepower and a rock chin but does he have the skills to match Nery?

“I come forward. I bring the pressure and I’m definitely going to bring the power, the size and all the advantages I have to make sure that we give the fans a great show. I do respect him as a fighter but we’re just going to have to find out Saturday,” said Figueroa whose brother Omar Figueroa fought in the same venue two weeks ago.

Nery has quickness and agility to supplement his power. He also has experience in world class opposition and that’s something Figueroa lacks.

“Brandon’s style really fits with what I want to do in the ring,” said Nery, a boxer-slugger. “This is going to be an all-out war from the first round on. People are going to be talking about it for a long time after.”

The winner of this clash will hopefully meet the winner of Roman and Espinoza. That would really heat up the super bantamweight division to blue hot levels.

Some of my favorite fighters of the past occupied the super bantamweight division like Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Israel “Magnifico” Vazquez who twice fought in this same venue. His third fight with Rafael Marquez on March 1, 2008 was voted Fight of the Year for its brutal but spectacular display of super bantamweight power.

The winners of this quasi-super bantamweight tournament can equally achieve the same kind of greatness those former stars achieved. This is a good start.

Fights to Watch (All times are Pacific Coast)

Friday UFC Fight Pass 5:30 p.m. Heather Hardy (22-1) vs Jessica Camara (7-2); Melissa St. Vil (13-4-4) vs Olivia Gerula (18-18-4).

Friday Telemundo 11:30 p.m. Denilson Valtierra (14-0) vs Emanuel Lopez (30-12-1).

Sat. DAZN 10 a.m. Lerrone Richards (14-0) vs Giovanni De Carolis (28-9-1).

Sat. Showtime 7 p.m. Luis Nery (31-0) vs Brandon Figueroa (21-0-1); Danny Roman (28-3-1) vs Ricardo Espinoza (25-3).

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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Charr vs Lovejoy: Better Late Than Never, or Not

Phil Woolever

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COLOGNE – There are many questions to be answered regarding Mahmoud Charr’s scheduled fight against Christopher Lovejoy this Saturday night at a training facility along the Rhine. The most primary point to be determined is whether the contest actually occurs.

Charr has been idle since capturing a WBA title belt against Aleksandr Ustinov way back in November 2017. Since then numerous delays and cancellations, many of them out of Charr’s control, have kept the erstwhile ranked heavyweight out of the championship picture and far from the international public eye.

The most recent of such situations found Charr unable to obtain a travel visa for a defense against Trevor Bryan in Florida last January. Machinations by Don King and the WBA in relegating Charr to “in recess” status further tarnished both the promoter and the organization’s already disgraceful reputations.

King has also had a hand in keeping Lovejoy off the rumbling radar, after the boxer previously claimed retirement as a way out of King’s contractual clutches. When Lovejoy attempted to face Dave Allen in London on the undercard of Usyk-Chisora, King contacted Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn with enough of a claim that Lovejoy’s appearance was cancelled.

According to Lovejoy, King has also attempted to block Saturday’s fight, so uncertainty remains until the first bell rings this weekend. That said, everything else about the relatively low key card seems to be well in place, and there is plenty to look forward to, questions and all. A subscriber-based live stream on German news outlet Bild.de will broadcast the bout.

How the long layoff, which began way before the coronavirus pandemic, has affected Charr is probably the most crucial factor, but what the rarely seen Lovejoy brings to the table is as compelling as it is curiously noteworthy. His record of 19-0 with 19 quick knockouts, compiled completely off-grid in frequent madhouse Tijuana could mean damn near anything.

Charr, 31-4 (17), has been stopped three times and in two of those KOs (by Maris Briedis and Alexander Povetkin) he was blasted into one-shot oblivion. Under Saturday’s scenario one of the few possible surprises might be if Lovejoy doesn’t try to get Charr out of there immediately.

Lovejoy, listed at 6’4”, looks substantially larger than 6’3” Charr, but not any taller. An uneducated guess indicates a strong possibility that the more proven Charr is capable of wearing Lovejoy down, especially considering how he did it against a respectable version of Ustinov.

When Lovejoy refused to shake Charr’s hand and insulted his courage during their press conference photo op, there was a slight but very significant twitch in Charr’s almost constantly upbeat countenance. If Lovejoy doesn’t indeed carry huge power in his punches, he may have inspired a painful night.

To put Charr’s simmering anger in perspective, it must be remembered that he still looked like he was calmly waiting for his food while being carried out on a stretcher after getting shot four times in the lower abdomen during a 2015 ambush in nearby Essen. When his assailant, a former boxing protégé, confessed by saying he only meant to shoot him in the leg, Charr told an emotion packed courtroom bygones were bygones, saying “I am a man who forgives.”

A refugee at five years old whose father was killed in the Lebanese civil war, Charr seems to clearly envision a bigger picture than just his boxing career, and he consistently posts positive motivational copy on social media, including an end of Ramadan message stressing nonpartisan hope for the current Gaza conflict.

The 10-round fight carries no title designation but whatever they may or may not step into the ring with, one thing Charr and Lovejoy share is the potential for a make-or-break performance.

If Charr wins, people will dismiss Lovejoy’s merit in the first place but it still keeps a bit of shine on his championship claims, increasing his leverage regarding Bryan or even bigger game. If Lovejoy wins, especially by dramatic KO, he has definitely upped his recognition factor marketability.

The only safe bet is that the winner will probably hear from somebody representing Don King.

And maybe even Fres Oquendo.

Questions, questions.

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The Tartan Tornado Invades Las Vegas, Harkening Back to Sugar Ray Robinson

Arne K. Lang

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On Sunday, Feb. 26, 1961, Sugar Ray Robinson arrived in Las Vegas for his match six days later with Gene Fullmer at the two-year-old Las Vegas Convention Center. Reporters on hand to greet Robinson at the airport were taken aback by his large entourage. With him were his manager George Gainford, his trainer and his trainer’s assistant, his mother, his traveling secretary, his personal physician, his dietician, his bodyguard, his personal barber and a sparring partner – eleven bodies in all including Robinson.

Flash forward 60 years. When WBA/IBF world super lightweight champion Josh Taylor arrived in Las Vegas on April 24, his party also numbered eleven. Arriving with him from Edinburgh were his trainer Ben Davison, his former amateur coach Terry McCormack (pictured on the right) and assorted others including a videoanalyst, a physiotherapist, and several longtime friends and gym mates including undefeated (10-0) European bantamweight title-holder Lee McGregor and sparring partner Chris Kongo.

Once he was settled in, Sugar Ray had less than a full week to finish off his preparation for his title fight with arch-rival Fullmer. By contrast, Josh Taylor and his team arrived in Las Vegas a full month before Taylor was set to square off against WBC/WBO counterpart Jose Ramirez in the biggest fight in Las Vegas since Fury-Wilder II, a lapse of 14 months.

There are other differences between Team Robinson and Team Taylor which touch on the way that boxing has changed from a promotional standpoint. Sugar Ray and his party stayed at the Dunes Casino Resort on the Strip where Robinson picked up some loose change holding afternoon pre-fight workouts in the hotel’s showroom at $1 a head. Team Taylor is staying as a group in a large, luxury home in the “burbs” where there are fewer distractions and when he is ready to spar at the Top Rank Gym, “foreigners” are shooed away. Which isn’t to say that Josh Taylor isn’t friendly. Quite the opposite; the Tartan Tornado has been very approachable and unstinting of his time with the few local reporters that have been hep to his whereabouts.

Taylor hails from Prestonpans, a town eight miles east of Edinburgh, Scotland’s second-largest city. His dad works as a landscape gardener and his mother as a receptionist. He has one sibling, a younger sister. This past December he became engaged to hairdresser Danielle Murphy, his longtime girlfriend. They have known each other for 10 years.

On Wikipedia, Prestonpans is portrayed as a small fishing village, but that is highly misleading. For a better reference, think of towns in the American rust belt that have been bruised by the loss of manufacturing jobs. Taylor and his neighbors will tell you that the policies of Margaret Thatcher, British PM from 1979 to 1990, compounded the damage.

At age 17, Taylor, now 30, found his way to McCormack’s Lochend Boxing Club in Edinburgh. At this humble gym — a little shack situated smack against a public housing project — he honed the skills that made him an elite amateur, a globetrotter who culminated his tenure with a gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Taylor turned pro for Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions. McGuigan entrusts his fighters to his trainer/son Shane McGuigan. The McGuigans already had Carl Frampton in the fold. Under the McGuigans stewardship, Frampton became a champion in two weight classes.

Taylor’s fight with Jose Ramirez will be his fourth in the United States. Josh made his pro debut in El Paso and also fought at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The common thread in all three fights is Frampton who also appeared on those cards, the last two as the headliner with Leo Santa Cruz in the opposite corner.

As a pro, Taylor is undefeated (17-0, 13 KOs). Ramirez, the pride of Central California’s vast San Joaquin Valley, home to more than 4 million people, is also undefeated (26-0, 17 KOs), but the Scotsman is considered to have fought the stronger schedule. Taylor’s last five opponents were collectively 110-1 at the time that he fought them with the lone blemish inflicted by Terence Crawford.

Taylor’s signature win was his Oct. 26, 2019 conquest of Regis Prograis at London’s O2 Arena. Both came in undefeated, both owned a share of the world super lightweight title, and the match had the added allure of being the final round of a World Boxing Super Series tournament with the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy, an impressive piece of hardware, bestowed on the winner.

The fight was expected to be highly entertaining and it overachieved. The noted historian Matt McGrain called it “the inarguable 140lb fight of the decade.” At the end both fighters were marked-up, especially the victorious Taylor who sported a beauty of a shiner over his right eye. “I have never been prouder of an injury,” Taylor told this reporter.

pontrepans

His relationship with the McGuigans unraveled after this fight. Shane McGuigan took it hard. “I’ve invested four-and-a-half years of my time and energy in someone who just doesn’t deserve it,” he said. “If you want loyalty in boxing, buy a dog (a saying previously credited to the late British boxing promoter Mickey Duff).”

“Don’t buy a dog and then put it in the kennel,” replied Taylor, noting that he had been left alone for long periods by Shane McGuigan when training in England and that he wasn’t provided a key to the gym when his trainer was out of town.

Veteran British boxing scribe Colin Hart took the McGuigans’ side in a story that ran in the Sun, faulting Josh for his disloyalty. What Hart failed to note is that in every deal that Taylor has signed, he has insisted that his amateur coach be included. McCormack assisted McGuigan in the corner and continues in that role under Davison, the young trainer who reinvigorated Tyson Fury before their amicable split.

“I have never been so happy as I am now,” says Taylor. “I am content and relaxed.” And he insists that he harbors no hard feelings toward the McGuigans. “I’m grateful for what they did for me.”

This olive branch, of sorts, stands in stark contrast to his pal Carl Frampton whose break from the McGuigans was scarred with unbending acrimony. (Shane McGuigan’s latest protégé is Lawrence Okolie who turned in a sensational performance while blasting out Krzyzstof Glowacki to win the WBO world cruiserweight title on March 20. There’s no question that Shane is one of the sharpest young trainers in the sport, but if he were a physician, one might say that he needs to work on improving his bedside manner.)

The Taylor-Ramirez fight will be held at the Virgin Hotel (formerly the Hard Rock which was closed for 13 months while the new owners of the property, in their words, “reimagined” it). The winner will be the undisputed 140-pound champion, holding all four meaningful belts. If that be Taylor, who is a small favorite, that would put him on the same pedestal as Ken Buchanan who became a national hero when he won the world lightweight title from Ismael Laguna in 1970, a diadem he lost on a controversial punch to Roberto Duran who refused to give him a rematch.

Now 75 years old and residing in an assisted living facility in Edinburgh, the city of his birth, Buchanan was among the first to predict that Taylor would become a world champion. The two are well-acquainted. Buchanan pops in occasionally at McCormack’s gym. He has visited Taylor at his family home where, Josh notes, his mother welcomed him as she would any honored guest, meaning she put on a spot of tea.

Taylor vs Ramirez is a sellout. The bout will be televised free in the United States on ESPN. It’s a very compelling attraction.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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