LAS VEGAS -- Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez's undisputed junior welterweight title fight lived up to the billing.
Only one could make history and remain undefeated. Taylor did enough to pick up the unanimous decision at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, winning 114-112 on all three scorecards.
Taylor becomes only the sixth men's boxer to claim undisputed champion status in the four-belt era (since 1988). Taylor also becomes the first Scottish fighter to hold all four titles in any division.
Taylor (18-0, 13 KOs) used two big rounds in the middle of the fight to give him enough cushion for the victory. In the sixth round, Taylor dropped Ramirez (26-1, 17 KOs) with a short left hand that didn't appear to significantly hurt the Mexican-American fighter out of Avenal, California.
But in the seventh round, Taylor caught Ramirez with a shot that almost forced a stoppage. As the two men came out of a clinch, Taylor unleashed a left uppercut from distance that landed flush on Ramirez's chin. Ramirez staggered to get to his feet and was able to survive the final few seconds of the round.
While Ramirez was able to steady himself the rest of the fight, he wasn't able to sting Taylor, who circled Ramirez and boxed well from range. That game plan allowed Taylor to seal the historic victory.
Zepeda still in title contention after decision win
For Jose Zepeda, Saturday's bout against Hank Lundy was about learning how much he had left following one of the most brutal fights in recent boxing history.
Last year, Zepeda was dropped four times before he knocked out Ivan Baranchyk in what many called the best fight of 2020. Against Lundy, Zepeda was much more reserved and measured in his attack.
The approach was more than enough to get the win. Zepeda picked up the unanimous decision with 98-92 scores on all three judges' cards on the final bout of the Taylor-Ramirez undercard. All the judges had Zepeda -- the No. 1 ranked junior welterweight by the WBC -- winning six of the last seven rounds.
Neither fighter landed any big punches of note. Lundy (31-9-1, 14 KOs) kept looking for a long left that the Philadelphia native threw deep from his southpaw position. Zepeda, who hails from Long Beach, California, looked to pick his spots to attack, but he was never able to get into a good rhythm. Zepeda (34-2, 26 KOs) peppered Lundy but was reluctant to get into big exchanges and let his hands loose.
The reaction before the final round from the crowd inside the hotel's theater said volumes about the bout. It was a muted applause for a fight that lacked a ton of action.
In that 10th round, Zepeda had his best round. He threw his own southpaw lefts with Lundy on the ropes, including one that Lundy shook off. But even with the victory, questions will still linger about exactly what the 31-year-old has left in his career.
Sims scores big upset over Rodriguez
Kenneth Sims Jr. scored the shocker of the night.
The junior welterweight out of Chicago earned a major victory over undefeated prospect Elvis Rodriguez, and it wasn't even close. Sims won a majority decision, 78-74, 78-74, 76-76, over the highly touted and previously undefeated Rodriguez.
Sims (16-2-1, 5 KOs) controlled the action up the middle for most of the bout. Rodriguez (11-1-1, 10 KOs) struggled to deal with Sims' straight punches and a big right hand that landed often, including a big one in the sixth round that staggered the boxer from Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico.
It's a stunning upset for Rodriguez, who was taking a significant step up in competition against Sims. Rodriguez will now have to rebuild his career, while Sims easily picks up his best win to date.
Vivas wins controversial decision over Coria
It's going to be hard to find a better fight on this undercard than Jose Vivas-Louie Coria.
Both featherweights stood on the inside, and they traded power punches for nearly their entire featherweight bout. Despite being knocked down twice and being deducted a point for a foul, Vivas pulled out a unanimous decision victory with a 75-74 score on all three scorecards.
The Coria cheering section, along with the fighter from Moreno Valley, California, were displeased when the decision was announced. Vivas (21-1, 11 KOs) won six of the eight rounds on each of the three scorecards. The judges differed on which non-knockdown round Coria (12-5, 7 KOs) won; two had Coria winning the fourth, while another had Coria taking the sixth.
Coria found success in the third round against Vivas, who is from Texcoco, Mexico. First, Coria knocked Vivas down with a left hook. Then, Coria was given a questionable knockdown after Vivas stumbled into the ropes.
However, the ruling didn't ultimately affect the outcome, as Vivas did enough late to squeak out the victory.
Cortes outpoints Garza in entertaining bout
Andres Cortes and Eduardo Garza deserved a better ovation from the crowd for their eight-round fight.
Finding one person to smack their hands together for applause was seemingly asking too much inside the theater at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Cortes and Garza deserved it after an action-packed fight that Cortes won via unanimous decision 77-75, 78-74, 79-73.
The two fighters ended the sixth round that Cortes won with a big exchange on the ropes, and there was nothing but silence from the sparse crowd. I understand that it was still early in the non-televised portion of the undercard, but c'mon, folks.
Cortes, the undefeated junior lightweight from Las Vegas, doled out most of the punishment against a very game Garza, who hails from Mission, Texas (the same hometown as NFL coaching legend Tom Landry). Cortes (14-0, 7 KOs) was incredibly sharp and did just about everything well in a good back-and-forth fight. He landed some good overhand rights and a few hooks to the body that his corner loved.
Ramirez wins but doesn't shine
Robeisy Ramirez might have won his bout over Las Vegas native Ryan Lee Allen, but the Cuban prospect had the kind of victory that should be good teaching tape moving forward.
Ramirez scored a unanimous decision over Allen, via judges' scorecards of 60-53, 60-53, 59-54, in a well-deserved win that featured a knockdown in the second round. But Ramirez, who is from Cienfuegos, lacked consistency in the six-round featherweight fight.
Ramirez (7-1, 4 KOs) had a lull in the third and fourth rounds as Allen (10-5-1, 5 KOs) pressed the action and looked to be aggressive after he hit the canvas in Round 2. Once the bell rang for the fifth round, Ramirez appeared to increase the tempo and displayed the sharpness that led to the knockdown off a straight left from Ramirez's southpaw stance.
It's not hard to argue that Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, could have looked more impressive in the performance. Ramirez's deep amateur background and traditional defensive Cuban style have been evident throughout his pro career. But if Ramirez wants to take his career to the next level, the 27-year-old will need to find that next gear.
Muratalla stops Gallegos in Round 5
Raymond Muratalla put on a dazzling performance against an overmatched Jose Gallegos to get a fifth-round stoppage win in their lightweight fight.
Muratalla (12-0, 10 KOs) poured on the punches in Round 5, including a big left uppercut that had been an effective punch for him from the first round on. Gallegos (20-11, 15 KOs), of Bakersfield, California, did well to stand up to Muratalla's attack throughout the fight, but he was mercifully saved by referee Mike Ortega, who peered in to evaluate Gallegos throughout the fight. Eventually, Ortega had seen enough.
The undefeated lightweight from Fontana, California, showed why he is an intriguing prospect. Muratalla made the most of his 72-inch reach -- an 8-inch advantage over that of Gallegos -- and showed good power and accuracy as he varied punches between the head and body.
The Top Rank fighter could be due for an increased level of competition.
Gallegos had lost two of his past three fights, with the lone victory coming in Mexico against a fighter who was 0-19 before their bout.
Martinez demolishes Metcalf to stay unbeaten
The first bout of the Taylor-Ramirez card went a little longer than one might have expected, but the expected outcome finally played out.
Javier Martinez, the undefeated middleweight prospect out of Milwaukee, picked up a vicious fourth-round KO victory over Kansas City's Calvin Metcalf. Martinez landed a massive right hook from his southpaw stance that crumpled Metcalf (10-6-1, 3 KOs). The referee didn't count for very long before he waived off the fight, as Metcalf was obviously hurt.
Martinez (4-0, 2 KOs) had a sizable speed and power advantage. While Metcalf tried to plod forward with straight punches, Martinez used an array of hooks, including several to the body, in hopes of hurting Metcalf.
Martinez served as a sparring partner for Jose Ramirez in advance of Saturday's undisputed junior welterweight bout against Josh Taylor. Ramirez and Martinez are both trained by Robert Garcia, considered by many to be one of the best cornermen in the world.