The WBO has ordered super-lightweight champion Jose Ramirez to defend against mandatory challenger Jack Catterall before he considers any other options. Just days after he cleared up a mandatory defence of his WBC strap, against Ukrainian Viktor Postol, the unified champion was sent his orders from the WBO. A fight between Ramirez and Catterall had previously been proposed by the sanctioning body before they later agreed to let the Postol fight happen first. That fight was delayed multiple times as the CoronaVirus pandemic took hold.
Indeed, the WBO have been lenient in the past, allowing champion Maurice Hooker to unify with Ramirez and then granting their approval of the Ramirez-Postol clash. Now, they have called for long standing challenger-in-waiting Jack Catterall to step forward and have a crack at the belt.
Catterall is aligned to MTK and promoted by Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions. Ramirez is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank. All of these entities enjoy a good working relationship with one another, and the WBO, so some sort of mutual agreement will likely be made to suit all parties. Should negotiations fail to bear fruit, the fight will go to purse bids with a $150,000 baseline bid already established.
Catterall was last seen outboxing Timo Schwarzkopf in Dubai in 2019 over 10 rounds. His last meaningful bout was a points win over Ohara Davies in October, 2018. Going in to his eighth year as a pro, Catterall, 27, will not accept any step aside arrangements and wants to fight for the title. Whether that comes against Ramirez or for a vacant shot remains to be seen. Either way, the Chorley southpaw -who burst on the circuit in 2014 with an upset victory over unbeaten prospect Thomas Stalker- cannot afford to hang around any longer.
Ramrez is busy chasing down big fights with the likes of Josh Taylor or Terence Craford, the latter at 147 pounds. If Ramirez were to fight Josh Taylor next then the winner would hold all the marbles at 140. The likelihood of that fighter wanting to hang around and fulfill a bundle of mandatory requirements is thin.
If a fit, focused and on point Catterall turns up against Ramirez he would appear to possess the talent to give the Californian no end of trouble. Ramirez is a quality fighter, especially with the left hook, but showed vulnerabilities against both Postol and Jose Zepeda. One of many issues potentially facing ‘El Gato’ when his big chance arrives is the lack of top-level experience. How sharp will the tools be when Catterall has remained untested for the best part of two-and-a-half years?