Jose Ramirez vs. Josh Taylor betting preview: Best plays for unification fight

LAS VEGAS — By the end of 2021, there is a possibility that there will be an undisputed champion — meaning one fighter who holds all four major sanctioning body belts and is perceived by the public as "the guy" in his division — at heavyweight, super middleweight, super welterweight, super lightweight and lightweight.

That is an astounding moment and something that has never come close to occurring in the four-belt era. Only Terence Crawford at super lightweight and Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor at middleweight accomplished that feat.

In addition, there are unified champions at bantamweight, super bantamweight, welterweight and light heavyweight, where one fighter holds two or more of the belts and is widely perceived as No. 1 in the division. As a result, nine of the 17 divisions are in a position to have a single recognized champion in the class. That's unprecedented.

On Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), at the recently opened Virgin Hotel Las Vegas, Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor will meet in a super lightweight bout for all four belts.

It is a bout that is as compelling as it is significant, and it has the potential to be a Fight of the Year type match. Taylor is a -275 favorite at BetMGM, while Ramirez is a +185 underdog.

The over-under is 11 full rounds. Will go 11 rounds is a -300 favorite. Won't go 11 full is +225.

Ramirez, a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team, is 26-0 with 17 knockouts. His biggest victory to date was a sixth-round KO of Maurice Hooker in 2019 in a 140-pound unification bout.

Taylor is 17-0 with 13 knockouts. His most significant victory was a majority decision win over Regis Prograis in 2019 in another 140-pound unification bout.

(L-R) Jose Ramirez celebrates his TKO against Maurice Hooker on July 27, 2019. Josh Taylor celebrates his win over Regis Prograis on Oct. 26, 2019. (Getty Images)
(L-R) Jose Ramirez celebrates his TKO against Maurice Hooker on July 27, 2019. Josh Taylor celebrates his win over Regis Prograis on Oct. 26, 2019. (Getty Images)

The over is the best play on the card. Ramirez's knockout percentage is 65.4, but in his last five fights over three years, the Hooker knockout is his only finish. He's gone the distance with Amir Imam, Antonio Orozco, Jose Zepeda and Viktor Postol. Taylor's knockout percentage is 76.5, but going back in his last five fights over three years, he's had two KOs, over Ryan Martin and Apinun Khongsong. Khongsong was totally undeserving of his mandatory status and was dispatched in one round. Otherwise, Taylor has gone to decision against Postol, Ivan Baranchyk and Prograis.

They're both smart fighters and unlikely to get themselves in enough trouble to be finished, so I will lay two units on the fight going 11 full rounds or more. I'll risk $600 to win $200.

On the side, it's more complicated. I have a slight lean toward Taylor, but I think the line is weighted too heavily in his direction. I see it as more of a situation of Taylor as a 6-5 favorite, but he's more than double that.

So my play here is to take Ramirez because of the value. I'll lay one unit on him at +185, risking $100 to win $185.

I'll also play Ramirez by decision, and this time, BetMGM has props. You can bet on him by decision at +350, and you'll cash if he wins by majority decision, split decision, technical decision or unanimous decision. I'll put a half-unit on Ramirez at +350, so I'll risk $50 there for the potential to make $175.

I'll also lay a half-unit on Ramirez to win solely by unanimous decision at +700. I'll risk $50 to potentially win $350.

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