Notebook: Ramirez-Taylor date in flux but Arum says it will 'definitely' have spectators

Lopez-Kambosos update; Teixeira feature; 'Show and tell'

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum initially planned to schedule the undisputed junior welterweight title fight between Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor, who each hold two sanctioning body belts, for May 8. But there has been a change of plans and the fight will instead be later in May, Arum told Fight Freaks Unite on Monday.

“It’s gonna be in May but the one thing we’ve agreed to is it won’t be May 8 when Canelo (Alvarez) fights,” Arum said. “(Matchroom Boxing promoter) Eddie (Hearn) and DAZN came to us and said Canelo’s heart was on May 8. We asked ESPN (about changing our date) and they didn’t care.”

Alvarez wants to fight on May 8 because it is the weekend of the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo, which is a usual weekend on which he fights. Alvarez is scheduled to defend his unified super middleweight world titles on Feb. 27 against mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami before a May 8 unification fight against Billy Joe Saunders.

So, Arum said Ramirez-Taylor will take place either May 15 or May 22.

“We don’t know for sure,” Arum said of the two dates. “It depends on building availability, the whole thing.”

One thing that is for sure, Arum said, is that it will be held somewhere with at least some spectators.

“Definitely, definitely,” Arum said. “Fuck this shit with doing it in the bubble. These are the last two (cards) in the bubble.”

Top Rank has a show on Saturday and another on Feb. 20 that will take place inside the bubble of the conference center at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Arum has done numerous cards there without crowds due to the coronavirus pandemic since boxing returned in June, but he has had enough. He said he hopes to have the fight in Las Vegas with at least some fans but will go where he needs to in order to accomplish that.

“I’ve talked to the governor (of Nevada) and I’ve talked to everybody and everybody is trying to see if we can safely open up these venues for spectators on a limited basis because it’s not just the boxing. It’s the shows and everything,” Arum said, noting that the fight will definitely be in the United States.

Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs), 28, of Avenal, California, has made four title defenses, including unifying two belts by sixth-round knockout of Maurice Hooker in July 2019. Ramirez is coming off a majority decision over former titlist Viktor Postol in a mandatory defense on Aug. 29 in Las Vegas.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs), 30, a southpaw from Scotland, has made two defenses. He won the belt by outpointing Ivan Baranchyk in the World Boxing Super Series semifinals in May 2019 and then outpointed Regis Prograis to unify titles in the tournament final in October 2019. Last September, he made a mandatory defense, knocking out Apinun Khongsong in the first round in London.

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Lopez-Kambosos purse bid set

The IBF on Monday notified all of its registered promoters that it has scheduled a purse bid for unified lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez Jr.’s mandatory defense against George Kambosos Jr. The IBF set it for Feb. 18 at 12 p.m. ET, although the sides could make a deal up to 15 minutes before the bids are unsealed.

Lopez is entitled to 65 percent of the winning bid with Kambosos due 35 percent.

The fight was initially ordered on Jan. 8 but no deal has been made, forcing the IBF to order the auction that will determine the purses and who promotes the fight.

The impasse is not because Lopez promoter Top Rank and Kambosos promoter Lou DiBella have been unable to work out the money. Both promoters believe they could work it out quickly. The issue is a disagreement between Top Rank and Lopez over his purse.

“We haven’t been able to reach a deal for whatever reason and this is not a marquee fight,” Arum told Fight Freaks Unite though declining to discuss the numbers. “If somebody outbids us it’s fine. I don’t care. It’s fine. We get a percentage from Lopez depending on the bid. That’s the deal. Every promoter has that in their contract. And so be it. The fight will happen. Somebody will buy it (at the purse bid).

If Arum promotes the bout he would like to put on June 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York with at least a limited number of spectators. It remains to be seen if fans will be allowed at events in New York by then. Because of the coronavirus pandemic there has not been a boxing event in New York since March 7, 2020 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs), 23, of Brooklyn, New York, was picked by many outlets as the 2020 fighter of the year based on his upset decision win over Vasiliy Lomachenko to unify 135-pound world titles on Oct. 17 inside the bubble of the conference center at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. On Oct. 31, Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs), 27, of Australia, outpointed former featherweight world titlist Lee Selby in London in a title eliminator to earn the mandatory shot against Lopez.

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Get to know Teixeira

Junior middleweight world titlist Patrick Teixeira is ready for his first defense, which will come against mandatory challenger Brian Castano on Saturday night on Golden Boy’s DAZN card in Indio, California. I recently interviewed Teixeira, who explained his interesting introduction to boxing, what he expects from Castano, whom he has sparred with, and how he wants big fights against Jermell Charlo for the undisputed title or Terence Crawford. You can read the story I wrote for The Ring magazine website right here:

Quick hits

Former junior middleweight world titlist Austin Trout (33-5-1, 18 KOs), 35, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, notched a one-sided decision win over Juan Armando Garcia (21-8-2, 12 KOs), 32, of Mexico, on Saturday night in Chihuahua, Mexico. Trout won 99-91 on all three scorecards in a fight that headlined a card that streamed on FITE in the United States. Trout, fighting for the first time since last February, won his second in a row. He had been 0-1-1 in his previous two with a loss to Jermell Charlo in a junior middleweight title bout and a draw with Terrell Gausha.

Karim Guerfi (29-4, 9 KOs) will defend the European bantamweight title against Lee McGregor (9-0, 7 KOs) in a fight that has been postponed multiple times but has been rescheduled again for March 19 (ESPN+), MTK Global announced. The fight will take place at the University of Bolton Stadium in Bolton, England. In the co-feature, Liam Walsh (23-1, 15 KOs), who has recovered from a bout with Covid-19, will take on Paul Hyland Jr. (20-2, 7 KOs) for the vacant British lightweight title.

Show and tell

Former heavyweight world champion Leon Spinks died on Friday in the Las Vegas area after a long battle with cancer. He was 67. Spinks won an Olympic gold medal as part of the legendary 1976 U.S. team that also included gold medalists and future Hall of Famers Michael Spinks (Leon’s brother) and Sugar Ray Leonard, but he is most famous for the one glorious night he had a professional on Feb. 15, 1978 at the Las Vegas Hilton. That is where Spinks, who was just 6-0-1 and expected to be a soft touch for reigning heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, pulled the historic upset. Spinks defeated Ali by 15-round split decision to win the heavyweight championship, although he would lose the title to Ali in an immediate rematch seven months later. Here is a high-grade program from Spinks’ massive victory in my collection.

More show and tell

England’s “Prince” Naseem Hamed was one of the biggest punchers the featherweight division has ever seen and also one of boxing most exciting showmen ever. Early in my career I was fortunate to cover three of his fights at ringside. Naz made 15 successful title defenses during his 1995 to 2001 reign and was eventually inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. On Feb. 8, 1997 — 24 years ago Monday — Hamed unified two world titles with a dominating eighth-round knockout of American Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson. Here is a mint site poster from that fight in my collection.

Ramirez photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank