Viktor Postol occupied a comparable position in October 2015.
Lucas Matthysse was heavily favored to beat the Ukrainian contender in their fight for the vacant WBC super lightweight title. Postol surprisingly pummeled Matthysse, whom Postol dropped and knocked out in the 10th round at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
That impressive victory validated Postol at the championship level and advanced him toward the biggest fight of his career, a 140-pound title unification showdown with Terence Crawford. Postol lost a decisive decision to Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) in July 2016 in Las Vegas, which marked his first professional defeat.
Nearly five years later, Postol is an underdog again entering his 12-round bout with the current WBC super lightweight champion, Jose Ramirez. Postol, 36, is eight years older than Ramirez, with whom Postol sparred “five or six times” early in Ramirez’s career at trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
Postol doesn’t think Ramirez, a 7-1 favorite, is underestimating him based on their familiarity.
“I don’t think so, because he knows me,” Postol told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “We sparred before. The only thing where he can underestimate me is my age. Maybe he thinks I’m old, but I’m not.”
The taller, rangier Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) has noticed marked improvement in Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Avenal, California. The 28-year-old Ramirez knocked out Dallas’ Maurice Hooker (27-1-3, 18 KOs) in the sixth round of his last fight to add Hooker’s WBO junior welterweight title to his WBC belt.
Ramirez hasn’t boxed since he defeated Hooker 13 months ago in Arlington, Texas. Postol will end an even longer layoff, 16 months, as he hasn’t fought since April 2019.
Their inactivity has been extended nearly seven months because this fight has been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that it appears they’ll finally fight, Postol expects his experience and underrated power to set them apart when they meet in the main event of a six-fight card ESPN+ will stream Saturday night, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.
“I have experience,” Postol said. “I want to win by knockout, and I want to give him his first defeat. Let’s not forget that Ramirez, he’s a tough boxer. He’s strong, but again, I’m ready and I have experience. It’s gonna be an exciting fight.”
Ramirez replaced Roach with another top trainer, Robert Garcia, a couple months after he out-pointed Amir Imam to win the then-vacant WBC championship in March 2018 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. Postol, who’ll have Roach in his corner, expects to encounter a vastly different fighter from the inexperienced prospect he sparred.
“He has improved,” Postol said. “When we sparred, he was very young. Now he’s a champion, he has two titles and he’s a stronger fighter.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.