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Taylor-Ramirez unification scrap was boxing at its best – the sport needs it more often if it wants to keep fans engaged (VIDEO)

Taylor-Ramirez unification scrap was boxing at its best – the sport needs it more often if it wants to keep fans engaged (VIDEO)
Saturday's light-welterweight thriller between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas was boxing at its best. Meetings between the best unbeaten fighters in divisions should be ordered more often.

Despite Taylor taking the first round, he looked to be in trouble in the second and third as Ramirez landed a series of body blows on the inside that the Scot seemed unable to ward off and deal with.

It was a strange sight for UK boxing enthusiasts, unaccustomed to seeing their man being met in the middle of the ring and gotten the better of in some exchanges.

One landed upstairs and downstairs combo more, and Taylor may have been tasting canvas for the first time in his career, from the amateurs to the pros.

Maybe it was foreign to admirers of the sweet science in general.  

"This is what it looks like, folks," ESPN's Joe Tessitore kindly reminded us though, on commentary duties with former ring greats Andre Ward and Tim Bradley excitedly lapping it all up.

When the best fight the best, as punters in past decades will testify, there are moments when either man has the upper hand.

Soaking up the pressure, Taylor rallied back to take the middle rounds with a couple of 10-8s, felling his game foe with a sweet left hook on the counter at the beginning of the sixth and a flush uppercut in the seventh.

Many felt referee Kenny Bayless gave Ramirez extra time to regroup after the second knockdown, with the Californian taking the last three or four rounds.

But Taylor's work was done as he roared to a unanimous decision win of 114-112 on all three cards.

In turn, he became only the sixth man to hold all the marbles in a weight class in the four-belt era, and the first undisputed champ from Scotland since the great Ken Buchanan did it at lightweight in the early 1970s.

"This has been 15 years in the making, dedicating my life to the sport, putting everything on hold, my social life, things I wanted to do with my friends, my family, my fiancee, things I have missed out on. It has all been geared to this moment and it has finally paid off," the 'Tartan Tornado' said post-fight. 

"I don't feel surprised, I really don't feel surprised that I am undisputed champion. But it has not sunk in yet," he admitted.

On little sleep on Sunday morning, fight fans the world over are still in a state of shock after witnessing that rare thing.

A thrilling encounter from start to finish, when two young, unbeaten champions put everything on the line and dared to be great.

Put simply, its something that they and the sport deserve more of.

As an arbitration court ordered Tyson Fury to face Deontay Wilder for a third time and hijacked his plans to meet Anthony Joshua in the biggest heavyweight clash of all time, Taylor against Ramirez was the perfect tonic for a bad week in which promoter and commission fee politics left a sour taste in the public's mouth. 

A throwback to the days of old, Taylor gets it and will fight anyone, anywhere to give them what they want.

"I would like to go up to 147 and chase some big fights like Terence Crawford," he said backstage at the Virgin Hotels.

"I am not going to call him out. He is a great fighter, but two undisputed champions going at it would be awesome," he suggested, in reference to the last man before him to unify all the belts in boxing history, coincidentally in the same weight class in 2017 against Julius Indongo. 

Joshua and Fury's camps aren't the only ones who need the finger pointed at them, of course.

In a clash of egos and greed among the fighters and their promoters, we may never see the best fight at the 147 welterweight class Taylor referred to, in Crawford against Errol Spence.

Instead, veteran Manny Pacquiao deserves praise for throwing his hat into the ring against the latter-mentioned Texan, as an in-house fight at Premier Boxing Champions was far easier to make for Al Haymon.

Both represented by Top Rank, who also have Fury on their books, the same logic would apply to a Taylor-Crawford clash later this year for Bob Arum, too. 

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Referring to themselves as the 'Four Horseman', lightweights Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis have so far been all talk, and are collectively an insult to middleweights such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and the late Marvin Hagler - who were first given that group title in the 1980s.

Of the quartet, Lopez - who like Taylor and Ramirez put his legacy at risk when facing then-pound-for-pound number one Vasyl Lomachenko and relieving him of his crowns to become the youngest four-belt champion in history - is the only one who has voiced an intent to face last night's winner and try his luck at 140. 

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Boxing is losing punters to championships such as the UFC, where the pick of the bunch have no choice to turn down fights against one another. Making the bouts between these top fighters is what will save the sport, especially when celebrity and YouTube circuses are an unstoppable force nobody can put a lid on. 

If they're for all the belts, than even better.

But Taylor-Ramirez should not be a once-in-a-generation rarity when there is an embarrassment of talent across the discipline.

By Tom Sanderson

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