WBO advances José Ramírez ahead of Teofimo López, Jack Catterall following recent rankings protests

José Ramírez is now the number two contender to the two junior welterweight titles previously held by him.

A three-week review process by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) ended with Ramirez moving up his junior welterweight ranking, the sanctioning body revealed Sunday night. The former WBC/WBO champion was one of three boxers required to plead his case with the WBO, joining former lineal and unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez and previous mandatory challenger Jack Catterall in making the request.

In the end, the sanctioning body went with its former owner.

“Certainly, the boxer’s career win/loss status is an important factor where fighters have similar, but subtle, distinctions regarding their professional merits,” said Samuel Viruet, chairman of the WBO Championship Committee, in a statement. a 12-page ruling presented to all. parties, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com. Thus, José Ramírez conquers [Jose] Pedraza, and Teofimo Lopez’s loss against George Kambosos, therefore creates a balance that favors a higher-ranked Jose Ramirez over Teofimo Lopez in the WBO world junior welterweight rankings.”

Australian Liam Paro (22-0, 13KOs) remains the number one challenger to the WBC title held by undisputed WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO champion Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs), and whose ranking was ineligible for dispute.

The ruling was based on the WBO Criteria Requirements, focusing on: positive professional background with special emphasis on the boxers’ recent activities; positive amateur record with special emphasis on medals obtained in International and Olympic Tournaments; quality of competition; maintain classification as a rated fighter; WBO regional titles that he already held; Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) guidelines for objective and consistent criteria for ratings of professional boxers.

Ramírez outperformed López and Catterall in almost every category, hence his rise to the number two spot. Catterall remains the number three contender, where he was placed following his controversial loss to Taylor, while Lopez is now the number four junior welterweight contender with the WBO.

The debate stemmed from the most recent update on the WBO rankings, which saw Lopez (16-1, 12KOs) land in the number two position despite never having fought at junior welterweight and coming off a loss. The Brooklyn native and 2016 Honduran Olympian has not fought since losing his lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight titles in a twelve-round split decision loss to Australian George Kambosos Jr. (20-0, 10KOs). ) on November 27 in Madison. Square Garden Hulu Theater in New York City.

Lopez announced his intention to move up in weight, although he remains ranked at lightweight by the WBA and IBF. The WBC does not classify Lopez at lightweight or junior welterweight. The WBO saw fit to honor the former champion with a number two entry at junior welterweight, much to the chagrin of Catterall and Ramirez, who were demoted to number three and number four, respectively.

England’s Catterall (26-1, 13KOs) contested the ruling, through attorney Jeffrey Benz, on March 24, four weeks after his controversial split decision loss to Taylor in their February 26 title challenge in Glasgow. .

Catterall outboxed Taylor for much of the night, completing with a knockdown near the end of the eighth round only to allow the defending champion to take control in the final four rounds of the contest. It cost Catterall the decision and his championship dream, while his mediocre level of opposition while awaiting a title shot weakened his case to remain atop the division.

“Jack Catterall’s main argument is that he should retain his number one ranking position and as such be the mandatory challenger in the WBO junior welterweight world rankings based on Taylor’s scorecards/ Catterall; that the fight was controversial,” said Viruet. “The WBO Classification Committee cannot agree with reasoning that contradicts the rules and regulations that govern the WBO. The WBO believes the Taylor/Catterall bout was a close fight and the official scorecards issued by the judges backed this up with a split decision (SD) win for Taylor.

“Furthermore, Mr. Catterall has not complied with the WBO provision regarding the mandatory criteria to maintain WBO qualification. Additionally, per ABC guidelines, Mr. Catterall was unable to fight a rated boxer within the mandatory 18-month period. Despite Mr. Catterall’s multiple regional title defenses and monthly rating changes in his division, Mr. Catterall was promoted to the number one ranking position and was granted the opportunity to challenge for the championship title. of the WBO”.

Catterall advanced to the number one spot in the WBO junior welterweight rankings in December 2018, shortly after his October 2018 points victory over Ohara Davies in what was considered an upset at the time.

Catterall put in three fights to keep himself busy while awaiting his mandatory title shot, all against mediocre competition and above the junior welterweight limit. The British southpaw hadn’t fought at all since November 2020, allowing then-WBO/WBC champion Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) to face unified WBA/IBF champion Taylor for the first time in a May 2021 undisputed championship clash guaranteed to get a shot. on the winner.

Taylor defeated Ramírez via unanimous decision, after which he fulfilled the pre-fight pact to face Catterall. His fight was supposed to take place on Dec. 18, but Taylor suffered an injury in training camp that delayed the championship issue for two months.

Catterall will now have to fight his way back into contention, precisely what Ramirez has done, both in and out of the ring.

The lone career loss for Ramirez, a 2012 U.S. Olympian and well-established professional from Avenal, California, was followed by a competitive but clear decision win over former two-division champion Jose Pedraza. The fight took place on March 4 in his home region of Fresno, California, reminding the world that Ramirez remains among the best junior welterweights in the world.

That point of view is shared by the two sanctioning bodies whose titles he previously held. The WBC lists Ramírez as its number two contender, directly behind mandatory challenger José Zepeda, whom he narrowly outpointed in a title defense in February 2019. Ramírez was initially installed as the number four contender with the WBO. The position was immediately challenged by manager Rick Mirigian and attorney Peter Aguayo, who filed a petition on March 25, a day after Catterall’s team pleaded its own case.

Considering that Teófimo López, Jack Catterall and José Carlos Ramírez are indispensable parties in this matter, it is hereby ordered that the parties hereto present in writing to the WBO within 72 hours after the issuance of this notice, their respective substantiated arguments and evidence as to why the OMB Qualifications Committee will grant your request,” the OMB noted at the time.

Ramirez did exactly that.

Mr. Aguayo sent a follow-up email on behalf of Ramírez, who emphasized that the boxer “meets the WBO Qualification Criteria” based on his past achievements and is now the only one among the three petitioners to obtain a victory at its best. recent fight. Bolstering his case is the fact that Pedraza was a widely respected former champion who served as a credible junior welterweight in the eyes of the WBO.

The case brought by Lopez’s legal team, led by David Berlin, centered on the hope that the WBO would uphold its original decision based solely on his past accomplishments.

Lopez’s split decision loss to Kambosos was dismissed as a result of “an undiagnosed life-threatening medical condition that, in addition to being life-threatening, caused him to be admitted to a hospital for treatment. Despite the above circumstances, Lopez honored the contract for the event, displaying tremendous courage during the hard-fought 12-round world title fight.

It was further argued that Lopez’s past achievements (former standout amateur who fought in the Olympics, 2018 Prospect of the Year and 2020 Fighter of the Year based on his lineal championship victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko) entitled him to the number three ranking. initially awarded by the WBO last February, which at the time was not contested by any other ranked contenders.

Lopez’s placement only became an issue after Catterall’s demotion following his questionable loss to Taylor, at which point Lopez advanced to number two. The lofty position became a concern for both Catterall and Ramirez, due to speculation that Taylor would soon move up to welterweight and thus vacate his multiple junior welterweight belts.

Such a move would leave Lopez in the most favorable position for Paro’s next challenge for the vacant WBO belt.

The WBO moved back in its latest ranking update, in fact demoting Lopez one spot lower than his original placement.

“This Committee agrees that both López and Ramírez significantly satisfy the applicable qualification criteria,” Viruet said. “Furthermore, it is indisputable that their amateur records, impressive professional records, world championship achievements, quality of opposition, level of activity, television exposure, accolades and other relevant factors merit that their applications be decided in a reasonable manner. fair. Highlighting each of the participants’ most recent fights, Ramírez was a win against then-sixth-ranked contender and former two-division world champion José Pedraza on March 4, 2022.

“Sir. Teófimo López’s last fight was in October 2021, against George Kambosos. Mr. López suffered a split decision loss. Mr. López has not fought in five months, although his representative implicitly alleges that he can be the result of his alleged pre-existing medical condition. Certainly, the boxer’s career win/loss status is a significant factor where fighters have similar, but subtle, distinctions regarding their professional merits. Therefore, victory of José Ramírez over Pedraza, and the loss of Teófimo López against George Kambosos, therefore creates a balance that favors a higher-ranked José Ramírez over Teófimo López in the WBO world junior welterweight rankings.”

Currently, Taylor is hooked on the upcoming defense against WBA mandatory challenger Alberto Puello, a fight the WBA formally ordered earlier this month.

If the Scottish southpaw goes through with the fight, the titles will remain in his possession at least until then. If Taylor opts otherwise, the WBA belt would at least be vacant and likely to be followed by the WBC soon. Zepeda remains the mandatory challenger and is unwilling to relinquish that position.

If all four belts become vacant, Ramirez can choose whether to challenge Zepeda in a rematch for the WBC title or against the undefeated Paro for the WBO belt.

If a rematch between Ramirez and Zepeda were to occur, Catterall would still have a favorable shot at a vacant title fight with Paro for the WBO belt.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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