After months of uncertainty and two previous postponements, WBC and WBO junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) will defend his belts against Viktor Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) in the main event of a Top Rank card at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Ramirez and Postol were scheduled to meet on Feb. 1 in China, but the event was canceled because of coronavirus pandemic. The fight was then rescheduled for May 9, but that date was also scratched. The winner will have a chance to unify all four major belts against Josh Taylor, who holds the WBA and IBF titles. But Taylor also needs to win when he faces his IBF mandatory challenger, Apinun Khongsong, on Sept. 26.
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7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN+: Jose Ramirez vs. Viktor Postol, 12 rounds, for Ramirez’s WBC/WBO junior welterweight title
In the co-main event, Arnold Barboza Jr. (23-0, 10 KOs) takes on Tony Luis (29-3, 10 KOs) in a 10-round junior welterweight battle. Barboza has won four of his past five fights by stoppage, including an impressive fifth-round KO of William Silva in November. Luis is 10-0 since a decision loss to Derry Mathews in 2015.
Also on the card, welterweight sensation Elvis Rodriguez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) is looking for his ninth consecutive victory by stoppage when he takes on Cody Wilson (9-2, 6 KOs) in a sixth-round welterweight contest, and preschool teacher Gabriel Muratalla (4-0, 3 KOs) makes his third appearance inside the Top Rank bubble against Justice Bland (2-0, 0 KOs). Muratalla scored a first-round TKO victory against Fernando Robles in June, and a one-sided unanimous decision victory over Sergio Lopez in July.
Gabriel Muratalla notched his third victory of the summer inside the Top Rank bubble, in a hard-earned four-round unanimous decision over Justice Bland. It was, by far, Muratalla’s most difficult bout as a professional.
In the opening minute of the bout, Muratalla suffered a flash knockdown, giving Muratalla a hill to climb to come back in the fight. But as he was struck by Bland (2-1) on the back of the head while on one knee, a timeout was called by referee Robert Hoyle, who also took a point away from Bland for the foul.
But over the next three rounds, Muratalla (5-0, 3 KOs), who is a preschool teacher by day, dusted himself off and got to work. He began to close ground on the much taller Bland, started landing good combinations to the body and came over the top with sharp right hands — one of which buzzed Bland in the third round.
Bland, who had fast hands and long arms, had his moments, but as the bout went on, Muratalla took over the fight with his determination and power. After four rounds, all three judges had Muratalla winning by the score of 38-36.
Javier Martinez scored a six round shutout over Rance Ward in his second professional bout. All three judges gave the unanimous decision victory to Martinez, score the fight 60-54.
Martinez, who defeated Jonathan Ryan Burrs by unanimous decision on July 14, was able to outwork Ward throughout the fight. While Ward (4-2-1, 2 KOs) was certainly tough and durable, he was worn down by the Martinez (2-0) activity in the second half of the fight. Martinez threw an array of left hands, uppercuts and right hooks to overwhelm Ward, who was visibly hurt at the end of the fifth round and took his share of power punches in the final round.
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