Jose Ramirez pulls out of title fight against Jose Zepeda due to marriage dispute; Régis Prograis online to replace him

Jose Ramirez will wait a little longer for the opportunity to regain his WBC junior welterweight title.

He has dropped plans for a vacant title fight against Jose Zepeda that was ordered by the WBC due to a dispute with his marriage in October, a spokesperson for Ramirez said in a statement provided to ESPN.

In his place, former champion Regis Prograis now has the chance to fight Zepeda for the 140-pound belt. The WBC officially ordered the fight on Sunday night and informed both parties that a purse bid will take place on August 30 if no agreement is reached by then.

Ramirez, who lost both of his belts to Josh Taylor in an undisputed title fight in May 2021, will be the mandatory challenger to the Prograis-Zepeda winner, sources have told ESPN.

“Due to the light welterweight division being held hostage by champion Josh Taylor, while he ultimately declined to fight mandatory challengers for the WBC and WBC, Jose was unable to secure a fight that did not does not conflict with his marriage,” Ramirez’s rep said.

Taylor has relinquished two of his four titles as he pursues a rematch with Jack Catterall in a fight that could take place Nov. 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. When they met in February, Taylor prevailed by controversial split decision. There is no agreement yet for a return meeting.

“I’m more than happy to try for the title again,” Prograis told ESPN. “My goal was to become double world champion and it couldn’t have been better. I want to establish myself as the best 140[-pound boxer] again on the planet.

“And on top of that, Zepeda is a real killer in the 140-pound division, so this is a huge fight, not just for the division but for boxing.”

Indeed, it’s shaping up to be a compelling action fight that will help unravel the cluttered 140-pound landscape. Prograis (27-1, 23 KOs) has been looking forward to another meaningful fight since relinquishing his title to Taylor by majority decision in a unification bout in October 2019.

The 33-year-old, who fights out of the Houston area, is ranked No. 4 by ESPN at junior welterweight. Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs) is No. 5.

Since a majority decision loss to Ramirez in February 2019, Southern California native Zepeda has shined. Along with a decisive win over Jose Pedraza, the 33-year-old Zepeda scored a brutal knockout of Ivan Baranchyk in ESPN’s 2020 Fight of the Year and most recently scored a first-round TKO of Josue Vargas.

“This fight will happen, no barriers, no politics on this one with the networks, nothing,” Rick Mirigian, who manages Zepeda and Ramirez, told ESPN. “The fans are fighting a real fight.”

Prograis is promoted by Probellum, while Zepeda is with Mexico-based Zanfer Promotions, so it’s unclear which network will air this fight. This could be determined after the scholarship offer if a deal is not reached by August 30.

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