Former WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Jose Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) has surprisingly passed up a guaranteed title shot against WBC 140-lb champion Regis Prograis.
The move puts by the 30-year-old Ramirez now puts the next highest-ranked contender in the World Boxing Council’s top 10 rankings, Teofimo Lopez, in the hot seat to take the fight against newly crowned Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs).
When told last week by ESPN commentator Bernardo Osuna that Ramirez will be getting the first crack at Prograis, Teofimo began bitterly complaining, saying that he was going to contact his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank because he wants to be the one that challenged for the WBC title against Regis.
Now, if Teo was just playing games by feigning interest in facing Prograis so that boxing fans don’t think he’s chicken, that’ll be exposed if he chooses not to take the fight with the WBC champion now Ramirez has rejected the fight.
If Teofimo turns down the fight against Prograis, as Ramirez just did, the next two contenders in the WBC’s rankings are Sandor Martin and Gary Antuanne Russell.
As for why Ramirez turned down the title fight against Prograis, ESPN says he wanted a 50-50 split, not the 65/35 split in favor of Regis. Of course, as bad as Ramirez looked in his last two fights against Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor, his chances of losing to Prograis would be very, very high.
In that case, even a 50-50 split wouldn’t be a good deal for Ramirez because he would lose anyway, and his career would be on the brink of disaster.
“I’m disappointed in that split,” former WBC/WBO 140-lb champion Jose Ramirez said via ESPN. “This fight should definitely be a 50-50 [split], and I was OK on taking 10% less, but I can’t be fighting for free and risk too much of a pay cut. Boxing is a tough sport, and we want to make sure we get valued.
“This is a huge fight that is not being promoted properly. Hopefully, we can make the fight happen in the future when we both get compensated as we should.”
If Ramirez doesn’t take the fight with Prograis, he will not keep his high ranking and will find himself pushed down to a lower spot. If that happens, he’s not going to get the split that’s hoping to get.
Again, we don’t know if Ramirez is serious about that being his gripe or if he doesn’t feel he’s up to the task of trying to defeat Prograis, who arguably is the best fighter in the 140-lb division and has been for years.
Prograis’ only career loss was a questionable 12 round majority decision to British fighter Josh Taylor in London, England, in 2019. You can argue that if that fight took place on neutral turf, Prograis wins going away.
Ramirez looked terrible in his last fight, squeaking by Jose Pedraza by a 12 round last March. Jose Zepeda, Prograis’ recent knockout victim, did a better job of beating a younger & fresher Pedraza by a 10 round unanimous decision in 2019.
Ramirez will be fighting next against possibly Richard Commey on March 25th in Fresno, California. Now, that’s a winnable fight for Ramirez, but one that doesn’t do anything for him. Commey, 35, has lost two out of his last four fights and is looking past it at this stage in his career.