Weekend betting angle – Taylor vs Ramirez

IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value in tonight’s fascinating undisputed 140lbs title fight between Edinburgh’s WBA Super and IBF king Josh Taylor and Californian WBC and WBO title holder Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas.

We had an outstanding fight between undefeated champions in the Brandon Figueroa vs Luis Nery clash last weekend, and we have another one tonight (early Sunday morning in the UK) when Scotland’s Josh Taylor faces California’s Jose Ramirez in a 140-pound title unification match-up.

This is as good as it gets for fight fans. The southpaw “Tartan Tornado” Taylor is the slight favourite (4/9 or -250 at Betfred) but Ramirez is as tough and gutsy as they come and will be in there battling it out in every round. At home, with a Scottish crowd roaring support, Taylor would be a fairly straightforward pick, but the Las Vegas site makes this a closer call.

Each man is tall, rangy and technically sound. These are well-schooled boxers. Each competed in the London Olympics but failed to reach the medal round.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) is 30, while Ramirez (26-0, 13 KOs) is 28. These are fighters who have shown they can dig down and find a way to win in 12-round title fights. Taylor gritted out a hard-fought decision over the dangerous Regis Prograis despite one eye swelling shut by the later rounds and he outfought heavy-handed Ivan Baranchyk, while Ramirez staged a big last-round finish to eke out close wins over Jose Zepeda and Viktor Postol and came through a couple of torrid rounds to overpower Maurice Hooker in the sixth.

If you go by the so-called form line, Taylor has to be the pick because he soundly defeated Viktor Postol, even scoring a knockdown, whereas Ramirez was barely able to get past the long and lanky Ukrainian boxer. Also, Jose Zepeda’s southpaw stance and deft counter punching gave Ramirez all sorts of trouble, which suggests Taylor’s left-handed stance could be a factor 

But it’s always a case of different styles, different fights — and different nights, come to that. Ramirez looked a little “flat” against Zepeda and Postol, bouts he was heavily favoured to win. But, for the first time, he’s coming in as the underdog against Taylor. This could see Ramirez produce an inspired, career-best performance.

We know that Ramirez will be looking to push Taylor back and overwhelm him with educated pressure and a high volume of punches. That’s Ramirez’ style and it’s been perfected under the guidance of Robert Garcia, the former champion who is one of boxing’s top trainers. 

Taylor’s trainer, Ben Davison, will likely have the Scottish boxer hitting and moving but also standing and fighting in spots. And Taylor does seem to have more dimensions than Ramirez. Taylor is able to use a “boxing” style or tough it out on the inside whereas Ramirez is more of a straightforward fighter although, obviously, very good at what he does.

Both men looked in good trim at the weigh-in. There was an exchange of words, as there had been at the final press conference. It worries me a bit that Taylor has been getting in Ramirez’ face. If it’s an attempt at intimidation, it could backfire because Ramirez is a tough-minded individual who although usually low-key seems to have developed a slow-burning animosity towards Taylor.

This is Taylor’s first big fight in Las Vegas (he did win a down-the-bill eight-rounder at the MGM Grand four years ago) and I fear he could be putting needless pressure on himself by promising a KO win. It also concerns me that he might be needlessly burning up nervous energy with his confrontational approach. Ramirez has a much more laid-back attitude. 

Still, all this said, I do believe Taylor is the better fighter. But laying a price of -250 isn’t appealing. Ramirez is the type who will stick with it, no matter how difficult things might become, and he will be trying to win and, importantly, believing that he is going to win, until the very end. So, while I’m leaning towards Taylor, I’m not wild about the negative odds.

Taylor by decision isn’t too badly priced at 11/10 (-110) but The Tartan Tornado is adamant that he is going to get Ramirez out of there inside the scheduled 12 rounds. If you think he can indeed get the stoppage, the Taylor KO TKO DQ prop will interest you at 15/4 (+375).

Ramirez is available at 2/1 (+200) at Betfred for those who believe the Mexican-American champion is a live underdog. If you think the fight will go the distance but are not sure who will win, the “Distance — Yes” proposition is offered at 4/11 (-275) at Betfred, with a price of +200 for the fight not to reach the final bell.

Actually, taking a shot at the fight not going the distance might be worth considering because this could develop into a war, with some fierce exchanges. As a value bet, I like the idea of “Distance — No” because Taylor has avowed he’ll be gunning for the KO and Ramirez is the type who won’t back down.

Main image: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.