Josh Taylor is a fine fighter, but not a superstar in the realm of promotion, and Jose Ramirez is a superlative human being, but he’s a far better person and boxer than he is promoter. Thus, it was left to 89 year old Bob Arum to stir that pot.
Arum did the job, as per usual, in banging the hype drum for the Saturday night junior welter showdown, between the titlists Ramirez, from California, and the Scot Taylor.
“Look, don’t get me started,” Arum thundered, after emcee Mark Shunock got him started, when he noted that most folks gathered at the Vegas Virgin Hotel for the presser weren’t wearing masks.
“But the White House announced today that they are having meetings at the White House, no social distancing, no masks, take off your God-damn mask,” Arum said, pointing at some poor prick in the audience with a face cover on. “Anybody who hasn’t been vaccinated and gets the COVID, it’s on them. The pandemic is over, OVER!”
He railed against a travel ban against people from England and the EU, and said that Russians can come in, why can’t Euros? “That is preposterous, President Biden wake up, wake up! This is important, this town relies on tourism. How do you ban people from the UK, from France, from Germany, I mean, it’s preposterous.”
He said that Taylor, from Scotland, could have flown in, because Top Rank is a sports outfit. But when Biden and company came in, things changed, and Top Rank wasn’t considered a “sports league.” Taylor could go to Mexico for two weeks, then come to America, that is how he would have had to proceed if the old designation for the company wasn’t restored. “It took a paid lobbyist and two US Senators to get us back on the list so Josh could come here and train for the fight. If that isn’t silly or stupid, I don’t know what it is. As of the end of this fight, May 22nd, the pandemic is over, put away your God-damn masks, and let’s live a normal life.”
This fight has an identity which stands up on its own merits, a unification for all the marbles at 140–but it drew hearty laughs from the assembled how Arum managed to put an indelible stamp, his own touch, on the presser and how he presented the programming.
Taylor and Ramirez, no surprise, provided no buzz along the lines of what Arum brought to the party. Taylor told those present and watching on a stream that he respects the hell out of Ramirez, but come fight night, “All that’s out the window.”
Ramirez, same as it has been, he’s seen as the underdog, and he said that fuels him to work harder. “One of the most exciting fights of the year,” that’s what he thinks of the match.
Arum gushed some about Ramirez, saying that the athlete goes against the grain. “In this day and age, where so many athletes are really selfish, Jose Ramirez has given to his community,” the promoter noted. He told those present about how Jose fought the good fight, for water rights for the people in his community. “He was a hero,” Arum said. Also, Jose is the son of people who came from Mexico, undocumented, and he deserves extra credit for working fields, picking fruits and veggies, as a young un. “It’s a great American story,” Arum stated.
Taylor said he’s stayed away from home for about six months, so he could sharpen the skills as much as possible. “It’s a massive fight for the two of us, it’s a great, great fight for boxing fans.”
There was more polite chatter from Ramirez. “This was the perfect training camp,” Ramirez said, comparing it to how it went in the leadup to his last fight, against Viktor Postol. He admitted that scrap was underwhelming, partly because he was drained because the fight was on-off-on-off again.
Taylor was asked if he thinks a win will put him high atop the pound for pound list. Higher than I was, but nah, not number one, said Taylor. Arum popped in and joked that Tyson Fury will be onsite, and he can lay claim to top P4P honors, and you don’t want to piss him off.
SPEEDBAG: Terence Crawford was asked who he likes in this Ramirez v Taylor bout. Ramirez this week said he’d like to beat Taylor and then maybe go at Crawford next. The Nebraska boxer, who was undisputed at 140, is a 147 now. “Something is making me lean a little bit toward Josh Taylor,” Crawford said. The 147 champ said he’d be fine with meeting Ramirez or Taylor, no worries.