Andre Ward views Viktor Postol as a legitimate threat to Jose Ramirez’s championship reign.
Ramirez is listed as a 7-1 favorite to beat Postol on Saturday night, yet Ward wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Postol pulls off an upset. The former WBC super lightweight champion has lost only 12-round unanimous decisions to a pair of unbeaten, elite-level fighters, Terence Crawford and Josh Taylor, whom Ramirez hopes to encounter next in a 140-pound title unification fight.
The 28-year-old Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) and the 36-year-old Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) intend to finally fight Saturday night for Ramirez’s WBC and WBO 140-pound crowns. Their 12-round bout, the main event of an ESPN+ stream from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, has been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m gonna say it,” Ward said during an ESPN+ stream Saturday night, “since I don’t see a lot of people saying it in the press, is that Viktor Postol is a major threat to Jose Ramirez becoming an undisputed champion at 140. He’s dangerous. Now, he’s not the same guy that we knew and saw in 2016, with an undefeated, unblemished record as he challenged Terence Crawford. I mean, every loss for a fighter chips away at your confidence, it chips away at your psyche. But he is the kind of guy that if Jose Ramirez is not on point, he can pull an upset.”
Timothy Bradley, another former two-division champion and Ward’s fellow ESPN analyst, completely disagreed with Ward’s take on the Ramirez-Postol fight.
“Obviously, Jose Ramirez will be on point,” Bradley said, “and I’m not really worried about if Garcia’s gonna be in the corner or not. It doesn’t matter. Ramirez can have his wife work the corner. I think it’s an easy fight for Ramirez because Viktor Postol can’t fight on the inside and that’s where Ramirez like to operate. I don’t have a problem with what’s going on. I believe that Ramirez is gonna win this fight handily and easy.”
Bradley referred to Robert Garcia, Ramirez’s trainer. Garcia tested positive for COVID-19 late last week and was not allowed to enter the Top Rank/ESPN “bubble” to work a fight Saturday night on the Joe Smith Jr.-Eleider Alvarez undercard at MGM Grand Conference Center.
Ramirez, of Avenal, California, and Postol, of Kiev, Ukraine, were first scheduled to fight February 1 at Mission Hills Resort Haikou in Haikou, China. That show was postponed January 23 at the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
Ramirez-Postol was rescheduled for May 9 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. It was postponed again due to COVID-19 concerns and eventually rescheduled for August 29.
If Ramirez overcomes Postol, the mandatory challenger for his WBC belt, and Taylor wins his upcoming fight, promoter Bob Arum intends to match them later this year in what would be a fight for full supremacy in the junior welterweight division. Scotland’s Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs), who owns the IBF and WBA titles, is scheduled to make a mandatory defense of his IBF belt against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) on September 26 at BT Sport’s Studio in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.