World boxing champion Jose Ramirez is a Boy Scout in a brutal sport.
Ramirez hands out food to farmworkers. He fights to bring attention to the shortage of irrigation water for San Joaquin Valley farmers. He auctions off title belts to raise money for Valley Children’s Hospital. And, most recently, he’s led a campaign to get workers vaccinated against COVID-19 in the same fields that he once picked fruit.
He does these things willingly and earnestly. Not for publicity but because he believes it’s a privilege.
However, none of those good deeds will matter come Saturday night. Ramirez faces Josh Taylor in a scheduled 12-round bout that likely will decide whether Ramirez (or Taylor) is a Hall of Famer and whether there’ll be even more lucrative paydays ahead.
The 26-0 Ramirez and the 17-0 Taylor square off at the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas.
The winner will emerge as the undisputed 140-pound world champion — a rarity amid the confusing alphabet soup of boxing’s sanctioning bodies.
Both boxers are old-school. They don’t dance. They don’t hide. And they train hard.
One more thing: Each guaranteed he’ll come away with all four title bouts.
“I will find a way to win,” Ramirez said in a Zoom news conference this week.
Says Taylor, “I promise to win this thing.”
Both are backed by legions of fans. Ramirez has a fanatical following in Mexico and in cities across America where immigrants toil in restaurants, meat plants, and warehouses. Taylor, whose nickname is the “Tartan Tornado,” is a national hero in his homeland of Scotland.
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