Three televised shows, highlighted by unified junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez taking on Viktor Postol, will take place on Saturday — and all three main events carry title implications.
First scheduled for China on Feb. 1, then in Fresno, California, on May 9, Ramirez-Postol will finally take place at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas (ESPN+, 7:30 p.m. ET). For Ramirez, this is more than just a mandatory defense. Should he get past Postol, Ramirez will take a huge step toward a full unification bout against fellow titlist Josh Taylor, who holds the WBA/IBF titles. Taylor is scheduled to make his IBF mandatory against challenger Apinun Khongsong on Sept. 26.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has said that should they both come out victorious, Ramirez and Taylor are on a collision course to unify all four major junior welterweight world titles.
Even without a live audience, Arum said that the goal is to move forward with the unification bout.
“It doesn’t help,” Arum said about the lack of fans. “But we’re going to do it anyway. You have to operate with what you have.”
Here’s a look at the weekend:
The saga of Robert Garcia’s COVID-19 tests
On July 24, as Vergil Ortiz Jr. was set to face Samuel Vargas at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, Ortiz’s trainer, Robert Garcia, tested positive for the coronavirus. Garcia was informed of the results the day before the fight, and the trainer was sent to a medical facility in Tustin, California, for further evaluation and to get another COVID-19 test.
That second test came back negative, but Garcia didn’t return to Indio as a precaution.
After this experience, Garcia hired a nurse to go to his boxing gym in Riverside, California, to test him and his fighters once a week, with a particular focus on Ramirez and anyone associated with him.
Last week, Garcia arrived at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to work the corner of bantamweight Robert Rodriguez for his fight against Abel Soriano and went through the COVID-19 testing procedure on Friday.
The following morning, there was a knock on his door.
“They came to my room at like 7:15, and they said, ‘Your test was positive, so we’re going to have to escort you to your car. You have to go home,'” recounted Garcia. “I’m like, ‘Are you serious? All my tests have been negative.’ Bottom line is they tested me again.”
A few hours later, as Garcia was almost back in Riverside, he got a call from Top Rank COO Brad Jacobs, who had some news — Garcia had tested negative on the second test.
“So I’m like, ‘What the f—, you want me to drive back? I’m home already — I ain’t driving back!” recalled Garcia, who had tasked trainers Henry Ramirez and Mike Bazzell to work with Rodriguez.
“It’s crazy, four tests in a row that were negative, then I go to Vegas, the first one is positive, and the second one is negative,” Garcia said.
Before he reached his home, Garcia said he called the nurse who had been going to his gym and got tested again.
“She did three tests, the one through the mouth, the one through the nose, and the antibody one,” Garcia said.
On Sunday, he learned that he tested negative on all three.
For this particular fight week, Garcia isn’t taking a chance. He took additional precautions to ensure that he would be able to work Ramirez’s corner, which included arriving in Las Vegas on Tuesday, a couple of days ahead of his fighter and the rest of the team.
“So I can be there in enough time to test once, and if it’s positive, the second one will be out in time if it’s negative,” said Garcia.
Ramirez-Postol by the numbers
Making the fourth defense of his WBC junior welterweight title (won in March 2018) and first defense of his WBO junior welterweight title (won in July 2019).
Fourth fight with head trainer Robert Garcia in his corner.
Throws 68.4 punches per round and lands 33.5%, according to CompuBox (both well above the junior welterweight average of 58.6 and 28.8%, respectively). He also throws more power punches per round (48.8) than Postol throws total punches (47.2).
Former WBC junior welterweight titlist. He won the title in October 2015 by defeating Lucas Matthysse by KO (lost the title nine months later in a unification fight against Terence Crawford).
Lands only 7.1 power punches per round, according to CompuBox (Ramirez lands 17.8 per round, well above the junior welterweight average of 12.4 per round).
The full card:
Title fight: Jose Ramirez vs. Viktor Postol, 12 rounds, for Ramirez’s WBC/WBO junior welterweight title
Arnold Barboza Jr. vs. Tony Luis, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Elvis Rodriguez vs. Cody Wilson, 6 rounds, welterweights
Gabriel Muratalla vs. Justice Bland, 4 rounds, bantamweights
Cesar Valenzuela vs. Raymond Muratalla vs. Cesar Valenzuela, 8 rounds, lightweights
Rance Ward vs. Javier Martinez, 6 rounds, middleweights
Dubois gets ready for bigger fight
Before Ramirez and Postol step into the ring, one of the best current young heavyweight prospects will be back in action. Daniel Dubois (14-0, 13 KOs) faces Ricardo Snijders (18-1, 8 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round fight at the BT Sports Studio in London.
This is a stay-busy fight for Dubois. He should win rather handily, and he isn’t taking too much of a risk, as his next fight is a showdown against Joe Joyce — a fight that was postponed until later in the year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dubois, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound power puncher, has spent the past year working on his balance. There is a certain fluidity to his combinations that makes him a very complete heavyweight. At just 22 years old, he seems to have a very high ceiling.
Before the pandemic hit, Dubois was being kept at a busy pace by promoter Frank Warren, and his improvement from the technical end of things was noticeable. In 2019, Dubois stopped all five of his opponents within five rounds. He is already rated third by the WBO and seventh by the WBC.
Within a year or two, Dubois could be part of significant heavyweight bouts and earning title opportunities. Matchups against countrymen Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua would be very big fights in the UK.
The full card:
Daniel Dubois vs. Ricardo Snijders, 12 rounds, heavyweights
Sam Maxwell vs. Joe Hughes, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Sunny Edwards vs. Thomas Essomba, 10 rounds, junior bantamweights
Willy Hutchinson vs. Luke Blackledge, six rounds, light heavyweights
David Adeleye vs. Phill Williams, four rounds, heavyweights
Sam Noakes vs. Jordan Ellison, four rounds, lightweights
Lara returns, but keep an eye on Angulo-Truax
For the second consecutive week, Premier Boxing Champions returns to the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, as Erislandy Lara (26-3-3, 15 KOs) defends his WBA junior middleweight title against Greg Vendetti (22-3-1, 12 KOs). Lara is a tremendous defensive fighter and figures to cruise to a comfortable victory.
The one time Vendetti stepped up in competition, he was stopped in the second round by Michel Soro in 2018.
The co-feature is a super middleweight bout between Alfredo Angulo (26-7, 21 KOs) and Vladimir Hernandez (11-4, 6 KOs). Angulo was scheduled to face Caleb Truex in an IBF 168-pound eliminator, but Truex was a late scratch on Friday with a non-disclosed illness.
— caleb truax (@GoldenCalebT) August 28, 2020
Angulo’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, told ESPN that his fighter is ready to go.
“[Angulo is] very motivated and he understands that at this point in his career he doesn’t have that many chances left, so he better do the best he can,” Said Sanchez. “He’s been in camp, he moved to Big Bear, he’s determined. Too bad we’re not fighting Caleb, I was looking forward to that fight to see where we were at versus a world-class opponent. So I’m disappointed we’re not fighting Truax.”
Angulo revived his career with an upset victory over Peter Quillin in September. Hernandez recover from two straight loses with a split decision victory over Aaron Coley in July.
Quotes of the fight:
“The difference people have seen in my last few fights isn’t about my fighting style or even about trying pleasing the fans. I just do what is needed inside of the ring. I have to see what each fight requires me to do. If it pleases the fans, then that’s great. But I’m always focused on doing what I have to do in each situation during each fight.” — Lara
“I look at it like this is just another human like me that I’m facing. He’s made of skin and bones and I’m sure he has his doubts about himself. Maybe about his age and about if I can get to him. I don’t get intimidated by anything in the ring. I’m just really excited to test myself against one of the best fighters of this generation.” — Vendetti
The full card:
Title fights: Erislandy Lara vs. Greg Vendetti, 12 rounds, for Lara’s WBA “regular” junior middleweight title
Alfredo Angulo vs. Vladimir Hernandez, 12 rounds, IBF super middleweight eliminator
Thomas LaManna vs. Brian Mendoza, 10 rounds, junior middleweights
Abram Martinez vs. Luis Arcon, eight rounds, junior welterweights
Justin Pauldo vs. Josec Ruiz, eight rounds, junior welterweights
Jose Valenzuela vs. Zack Kuhn, six rounds, junior welterweight