By Jim Amato / Senior Boxing Writer
In the time that I have followed boxing there are many matches that could have happened and should have happened. Some, like Archie Moore-Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta-Rocky Graziano, were before my era. They might have been thrilling matches, but for one reason or another they just never came off.
One from “my era,” the early 1970’s, was Ken Buchanan against Mando Ramos. Mr. Ramos was one of my early favorites. He was just a few years older than me when he won the lightweight title in his second try versus the talented Carlos Teo Cruz, when he was barely 20 years old. He lost the title soon after to Panama’s slick former world champion Ismael Laguna. Mando was cut up by the jabs and quick hands of Laguna. He also had trouble with Laguna’s fast feet and shifty style. Soon after Ismael Laguna handed the crown to another crafty boxer, the gritty Ken Buchanan of Scotland.
( Photo taken courtesy David Martinez at World Boxing Hall of Fame Banquet of Champions, October 20, 2001, Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles, California )
Mando regrouped and won three straight against tough competition. He was sliced up again but won a hard fought decision over former featherweight champ Sugar Ramos. He then halted ex-WBA featherweight titleholder, the rugged Raul Rojas. Ramos then won a decision over rated lightweight contender Ruben Navarro. If I remember correctly (???) after Mando’s wins over Sugar Ramos and Rojas he was supposed to meet Buchanan to try to regain the championship. Mando may have been injured and Navarro took his place. Buchanan out boxed Ruben to retain the crown. The WBC (the IBF and the WBO did not exist yet, thank God) still wanted Buchanan to fight Mando Ramos as a mandatory defense. Buchanan decided instead on a return with Laguna who he again decisioned.
Ramos would go on to defeat Navarro and the WBC-stripped Buchanan of their version of the title. They then matched Ramos with Spain’s Pedro Carrasco for the vacant title. Carrasco was floored four times but was awarded the “crown” on a very controversial twelfth round disqualification. Due to the questionable result the two were matched again. This time Ramos won a close decision and his second title. Mando then won another verdict in the rubber match to end the trilogy.
By this time, (and maybe before?), Mando’s well documented history of drug abuse was eroding his great skills. He would lose the title to Chango Carmona and his career unraveled. Buchanan would eventually run into a stone wall and the Hands of Stone, Roberto Duran, losing his crown in June of 1972. What if the possible match between Buchanan and Ramos would have come off in 1971 before the WBC stripped Buchanan? Who would have won that one? Ken was not as fast or as elusive as Laguna but he was a very clever boxer who moved well. I believe he had a stiffer jab and better all round power then Laguna too. Ramos was a very strong fighter who I believe would have pressed the action against Buchanan. Ken was a good counter puncher but he was not afraid to mix it up on the inside.
I really do feel that this had the makings of a sensational bout. Ramos might have carried more power but neither was regarded as a kayo puncher. They were both well educated in fisticuffs. Eddie Thomas had brought Buchanan around and Jackie McCoy handled Ramos. I think the deciding factors in this match would have been Buchanan’s jab and the thin skin of Ramos. Plus there would have been a fair amount of infighting and the heads bumping together would have also cost Ramos some blood, even though that was where he needed to be for his best chance to win.
My pick would be Buchanan via a cut eye TKO in between the tenth and fifteenth rounds. This was back when fights still went fifteen rounds for the title. Ah…the good old days!