By Tré Berry III & Jon Uddin | 05/27/2021
Combat Project authors Tré and Jon discuss Josh Taylor’s historic win, Elvis Rodriguez upset loss, and Manny Pacquiao setting the world on fire, leaking himself that a fight with Errol Spence is inked, and on the way. We will also be discussing Kenneth Simms prospects after defeating Elvis, Jose Ramirez options when he looks to get back on track, and whether it will involve Jose Zepeda after his lackluster performance over Hank Lundy.
(SIDE NOTE: There’s Shane Mosley (right) in the display picture, getting in some sparring)
A KING LOOKS AROUND THE AREA, AND SEES MANY DIFFERENT CHALLENGES
JON UDDIN – Scotland’s 🏴Josh Taylor traveled nearly 5,000 miles across the pond to Las Vegas, Nevada, and convincingly (at least more than judges scores indicated) lifted the WBC and WBO belts from 🇺🇸Jose Ramirez, who, residing just six hours west held a heavy home advantage with the fans in attendance. Adding the hardware to the RING, IBF and WBA titles he already owned, Taylor is now the Undisputed Super-Lightweight Champion, aka The Man in the division.
Taylor is already setting the stage to make his mandatory WBO defense against unbeaten 🇬🇧Jack Catterall in the UK in July, and while fighters always should always be locked in on the next task at hand, the buzz is all about what will follow, either a battle with current Undisputed Lightweight Champion 🇺🇸Teofimo Lopez or current WBO Welterweight Champion 🇺🇸Terence Crawford.
I’m sure both of us and any other reasonable boxing fan will be happy with either of those options when the time comes as Taylor will continue his impressive run of competition. Heading into the Catterall fight, Taylor will have faced fighters with a combined record of 162-1-0 heading into the ring. Taylor will be a massive favorite heading into the Catterall bout and should it go as many expect, that record will only increase when facing either Champion.
Give me your thoughts on what we are seeing from Taylor right now, an Undisputed Champion in just 18 fights, taking on nothing but the best, in a current era of boxing where many are making claims of being great, but the opposition says otherwise. Also, give me your early thoughts on how you see the potential matchups with Lopez and Crawford.
TRÉ BERRY III – Well, it’s a beautiful thing to see when you got someone like Josh Taylor get straight down to business to risk it all, no delays, no over the top social media banter, overzealous smack talk, “just line ’em up and I’ll 🎳knock ’em down” kind of attitude – It’s a blessing to boxing fans, and the purity of the sport, which often times can come under legitimate ridicule and scrutiny in some sectors.
I must applaud 🇺🇸Jose Ramirez as well for going about it the same way, as well as 🇺🇸Regis Prograis, and the rest of the top of the division…as I make that note, Taylor gets the biggest nod because he stands alone now at the heap on the top of the mountain, and he can be looked at as a pillar, and sole representation of a busy Junior-Welterweight division, sandwiched in between two divisions in Lightweight, and Welterweight that produces non-stop gameplaying, and headaches concerning the biggest fights that can be made.
Certainly, there are quite a few lessons that they can pick up from the 30 year old Taylor. What also sweetens the pot is that he has the opportunity to fight some of the top dogs in those divisions, whether someone like 🇺🇸Teofimo Lopez wants to venture up, or if Taylor wants to help bring some sanity back to the Welterweight division by moving up, and challenging 🇺🇸Terence Crawford, and others.
Yes, it has been made crystal clear by Top-Rank Promoter Bob Arum, that his next fight will be against 🇬🇧Jack Catterall, and I can dig it. For one, Catterall has been in position for some time to get his opportunity of a lifetime, and he has been cooperative in stepping aside so that an Undisputed Champion could be produced. I didn’t know that a possible date would be for July…Taylor didn’t seem to suffer that much damage, but perhaps enough around the eye to where it would make better sense for that fight to take place late August, or September.
Taylor throughout his ascension was a favorite not just by his local fanbase back home in Scotland, but to those hardcore watchers worldwide, tuning in to see some good action, and their 📡radars gravitating towards Taylor, especially when he took the “O” from Ohara Davies on forth. Throughout all the success, he was never a box office attraction, or what you would call the money man while on the come up.
Now that his stock is 🚀skyrocketing, now’s a perfect time (with respect to a solid Catterall) to give Taylor a showcase fight, for new fans to marvel at his skills, and increase his radar, before potentially taking a major fight, such as Teofimo at 140, a Prograis rematch, or Josh Taylor’s Superbowl match-up in getting Terence Crawford in the ring, with top flight Pound-4-Pound implications for both.
All in all, Taylor rising to the cream of the crop the way he did has administered much needed fresh air into some dull corners in the sport, and he believes that his true journey is just now getting started. To that, I say whether he wins or loses from this point forward…buckle up for the ride.
PACQUIAO & SPENCE LIGHTS THE BOXING WORLD ON FIRE WITH ANNOUNCEMENT
JON UDDIN – Last Friday, we received the announcement that there will be a big fight this summer at the Welterweight division between unified IBF/WBC Champion 🇺🇸Errol Spence and former eight division Champion 🇵🇭Manny Pacquiao. Spence appeared to be sharp as ever in his dismantling of Danny Garcia over 12 rounds in his return bout this past December, while Pacquiao’s last fight was in 2019, a split decision win over Keith Thurman.
As decorated and bold as Pacquiao has been throughout his career, many are at the point where they fear for Manny’s safety as he continues to take on the big young guns at 42 years of age. In a sense I get why some feel that way as we have seen throughout boxing history fighters hang on too long before suffering a brutal knockout.
However in the case of Manny Pacquiao I haven’t seen the type of 📉decline that makes me uneasy when I hear of him taking on this type of challenge. Yes, Spence is a tall task for the future 🔱Hall-of-Famer, and while I’ll go on record saying that I don’t see Manny winning the fight, I also don’t see him getting flat out steam rolled like others do. Give me your early thoughts on this matchup as it pertains to both fighters.
TRÉ BERRY III – To put it bluntly, 🇵🇭Manny Pacquiao has balls of steel, and him taking a fight against someone dangerous like 🇺🇸Errol Spence Jr. months shy of his 43rd birthday perfectly explains why Manny has the most gaudy resume of all boxers in at least 40-45 years. There are a plethora of reasons why one can love Pacquiao, talented, influential, humble outside of the ring, lion inside of it…a people person, a philanthropist – whatever positive description you can come up with, he can probably match it.
I too have been immensely inspired in those ways by Manny’s unexpected, heralded, heroic journey, and it’s because of this that I am a bit scared by this bout. I do love that he’s taking it, because it is consistent with his record of fighting the best, at all costs, but a 42 year old going up against a primed, versatile pressure fighter like Errol….if anything goes wrong, then health would be of major concern to me, due to Errol loving to punish injured prey, and enjoying the thrill of the hunt.
Now all that said, that does not automatically mean that I will pick Errol to win, or see Manny lose…it’s just that there’s added risk for a fighter I’m fond of, taking on the physically strongest foe of his career at 147 lbs., when his first title won was way back in the year 1999, against smaller 112 lb. Lineal former Flyweight World Champion 🇹🇭Chatchai Sasakul.
Now, if Manny holds/maintains his current form, then things can get interesting. Truthfully, when you look at Manny Pacquiao from the 🇺🇸Shane Mosley fight up to now, he maintains a very similar form, which is still very high, and relegates him as a still very dangerous, top-notch component. The Mosley fight was the very first fight where he slipped out of his prime, but he still ranked as a highly respected P4P operator. Even with the retirement in between in 2016, he hasn’t had any poor performances, with the exception of the 🇦🇺Jeff Horn fight, and considering what he did to Keith Thurman 2 years ago, one wonders if he can keep up that level of performance for Spence come fight night.
Errol isn’t Keith, so it’ll be more difficult, but I just wonder how it will all play out. I will say this, with full gusto….Errol Spence is the goods….if Manny Pacquiao somehow manages to win this fight, at his age, given everything he’s gone through…then I’m sorry, he has to rank as a clear 🔱Top-5 all time, selection, and a serious conversation about his placement in the annals of history will have to happen in broad discussion.
ELVIS HAD LEFT THE BUILDING – UPON KENNETH SIMS GETTING THE DECISION
JON UDDIN – 🇺🇸Kenneth Sims, a Chicago-born 11-to-1 underdog, put on the sharpest performance of his career as he upset highly touted Dominican prospect 🇩🇴Elvis Rodriguez. Watching the fight unfold it appeared that Rodriguez was taken back by the fact he was facing an opponent that didn’t just match him in athleticism, but displayed poise and wasn’t intimidated by the power Rodriguez carried.
Speaking of that power, I think Rodriguez was looking to land that one bomb that he believed would end Sims night and waited for an opening to land that shot, losing rounds in the meantime. Being guided by Freddie Roach it’s interesting to see a fighter take that approach rather than be offensively aggressive & unleash the firepower behind a flurry of combos.
This loss is just a setback and learning opportunity for Elvis, but from what you saw how do you assess the performance and what do you think needs to be tweaked in the gym?
TRÉ BERRY III – Here in my view, we have a classic example of insiders understanding what Sims brought to the table, versus betters who didn’t do the homework, leading to the absurd 🧮11-to-1 odds that were set. Sims could always box, he just seemed like the type that lacked a little something in the vitals department. It was a perfect storm for him, as his slick, counterpunching style was enough to thwart Elvis from getting his offense off, or establish any workable rhythm.
Rodriguez is impressive, but he’s a young fighter, and he had become too wrapped up in landing the 💥power, ignoring the progression of his overall game, and it came back to bite him last Saturday. This wasn’t a horrible loss – he wasn’t embarrassed, dominated, or hurt, he just came up short in the scoring portion, so this much more than anything, can be a positive going forward for him as a learning experience for a very impressive prospect with more to learn.
It resets him to getting back to the 🏋🏽♂️gym, to further develop his right jab, and utilize other tools he does have to set the power up, and then it’ll work in his favor. As for Sims, I’m happy for him. Guys like that, who are talented, but have issues consistently bringing it forth, tend to fall between the gaps, which was where he was. This victory busts the doors wide open for him, and I look forward to seeing him again.
LISTLESS ZEPEDA PERFORMANCE, AND WILL WE GET ZEPEDA/RAMIREZ II?
JON UDDIN – 🇺🇸Jose Zepeda took care of business and got the 10 round decision win over Philly ring vet 🇺🇸Hank Lundy Saturday night, but it wasn’t an entertaining bout and “Chon” looked as though he was still worse for the wear after last years historic Fight of the Year with Ivan Baranchyk.
After the fight many have expressed the feeling that Zepeda is a “hot and cold” fighter, never consistent with the performance he brings to the ring. I tend to agree with that and feel he is a guy whose action is dictated at times with the man across the ring from him or the stakes of the bout.
That brings me to 🇺🇸Jose Ramirez. Nobody should confuse the loss Ramirez suffered as being “exposed” by Josh Taylor.
Jose brought it as always but just ran into a guy with a few more tools. I honestly think a long rest is warranted for the former WBC/WBO Super-Lightweight champion but I don’t think anyone, including both men’s promoter Top Rank, would be opposed to them getting back in the ring for a rematch of their hard fought 2019 battle that Ramirez squeaked by.
You can’t convince me that we don’t get the best version if Zepeda out of that matchup. What’s your opinion on both men’s futures over the next year and beyond, as well as a potential rematch?
TRÉ BERRY III – I’m actually not so sure honestly about which version of 🇺🇸Jose Zepeda would show up for a potential run back at the Ramirez experience. Yeah Zepeda runs hot and cold all the time, and it can be confusing, as his EQ doesn’t tend to fit the scope of his bouts, unless his back is against the wall, and in peril. With that being said though, what I seen in the 🇺🇸Hank Lundy fight may be more of an indication that he either might not be what he used to be, or the damage caused in the Baranchyk fight may have dulled his reflexes.
Typically in his ❄️colder performances where he fights too much in a negative sense, he doesn’t get hit routinely with the same shots over, and over again, adapting to it, the speed of the punch, and the opponents timing. Lundy kept landing the long, looping right hand, that constantly took a long time to get there, but the point is, that Zepeda failed to get out the way, or to even react, which forced me to raise an eyebrow.
Overall, he did not look like the same Zepeda of the last 4-5 years. Though I don’t base one performance to gauge if a fighter is on the 📉decline, it is entirely possible that his struggles may make a repeat performance with whoever he fights next. Now, it would be logical for Zepeda and Ramirez to have their rematch, we just might see a different type of fight, or even different versions of fighters in that one.
As for 🇺🇸Jose Ramirez, following the Taylor bout – He proved to be exactly what I thought he was…and that…is a positive. You will not see me say anything negative about Jose Ramirez, because simply put…there’s nothing negative to say about the guy. Is he a great fighter? no…but he is a very good one.
He lost a fight, it’s part of the game. He wasn’t embarrassed, or blown out, and there was nothing new we learned about him that we didn’t already know. He fought tough, and gave it a good go, he just went up against a craftier 🏴Josh Taylor.
Ramirez was creative in landing some nice combinations, had some impressive moments, which was what he always authors up. He isn’t the greatest defender, we knew that coming in as well…it’s just that for the first time, it was fully exploited. Given that he proved he could hang in the ring with someone such as Taylor, I don’t see him losing much confidence in his abilities, and at the age of 28, he has plenty to offer, as a guy who can still pick up many meaningful victories.
A rematch between Ramirez and Zepeda should be next, but I tell you a fight that I would love – one that would guaranteed be fan-friendly, and that would be Jose Ramirez vs undefeated 🇺🇸Arnold Barboza Jr., who is ranked #5 Junior-Welterweight contender by Ring-Magazine. Barboza is a high motor action fighter, Ramirez is a high motor action fighter…both are with the 📹Top-Rank banner, so I say…..why not❓