Photo Credit: Sye Williams/Golden Boy
ZURDO TRIES TO GET INTO FAST LANE FOR BIG FIGHTS
This Friday at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California, Golden Boy Promotions is staging its first non-bubble show in its home state. Featuring several world title fights and headlined by a light heavyweight match-up between Gilberto Ramirez and Sullivan Barrera.
But will it end becoming the walk-out bout?
Perhaps it's a bit harsh to ask this, but it's a fair question.
Did you ever think that there would be a Mexican fighter with a record of 41-0(27 KOs) and a world title to his credit, that would draw such apathy from what many considered the most maniacal and loyal fan-base in boxing?
Well, that would be 'Zurdo' Ramirez, a boxer who is technically sound with a telegenic look and an affable personality but has failed to resonate with the public for one simple reason: his style is methodical, and with that, his fights become monotonous.
He is that driver that stays in the middle lane of the highway and goes 55 mph throughout the trip. He eventually gets to his destination, but he will frustrate everyone around him.
Ramirez's plight shows that just being good at the craft of boxing and being of Mexican descent isn't enough to be a marquee attraction. Yeah, it's unfair to compare him to Canelo Alvarez, the brightest star in the boxing universe. But despite his sterling record, he doesn't even have the appeal to his countrymen that the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada, Oscar Valdez and Jaime Munguia do.
At this point, because of the number of dull 12 round decisions he has racked up in recent years, he's closer to Rey Vargas and Miguel Vazquez than Canelo. In this business, it's not just if you win, but HOW you win that also matters.
In December he faced Alfonso Lopez in Galveston, Texas on a self-promoted pay-per-view card, where Ramirez scored a 10th round stoppage. This was one of those shows where you don't ask about the pay-per-view numbers but rather, how many die-hards even bothered to find a pirated stream of the event. But at age 30, he is hoping to have a fresh start to his career under the Golden Boy banner, which signed him to a multi-fight deal recently, after his stint with Top Rank ended in 2019.
So how does Ramirez change his own story?
"It's keeping busy, and fighting with the belts, and fight unification fights," he said on Tuesday afternoon outside the Banc of California Stadium during an open workout. Ramirez now campaigns at 175 after a rather undistinguished run as the WBO super middleweight belt-holder. "I know the time has come, and I want to be a superstar."
During an in-studio appearance on 'The 3 Knockdown Rule' podcast, the founder of GBP, Oscar De La Hoya stated, "We want to position him to fight the Canelo's of the world, why not? Imagine he's 42-0, we get him to 43, 44, 45 -- two Mexicans in the ring. How much better can you get?"
De La Hoya has a point, but at this stage Oscar has a better chance of reuniting with Alvarez, than making the fight between his new client and his old one. The reality is -- besides any personal animus that lingers between De La Hoya and Alvarez -- that Ramirez now, has no major belt, and he lacks sizzle. Which is why both the boxer and promoter have expressed interest in a fall bout with current WBO light heavyweight champion, Dmitry Bivol.
In Barrera (22-3 14 KOs) he's facing a 39-year-old who in his last ring appearance lost decisively over 10 rounds to Jesse Hart (who Ramirez defeated twice) in June of 2019. At his best, 'Sully B' was a respected contender, now he may be just a bit past his expiration date.
But he is still durable, it wouldn't be out of the question to see this fight go the full 12 rounds.
To which De La Hoya blurted out, "I call bullshit. I think he knocks him out in like seven rounds. Why not, let’s do it. Let’s go. If he does that, knocks him out within seven rounds, then you have something."
In other words, his promoter would like him to step on the gas pedal, for once.
"Yeah, I could be more exciting,'' admitted Ramirez. "Everyone will see this fight and change their mind."
REST OF THE CARD
There are two fights I'm really looking forward to on Friday night at 'the Banc', one is the lightweight match-up between Hector Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) and William Zepeda (22-0, 20 KOs) in a hook-up of undefeated fighters. You get the sense that Golden Boy put this bout together to see which guy will advance up the ladder. Tanajara is a sound boxer but lacks pop. Zepeda has the significant advantage in power and showed good form in stopping Roberto Ramirez in five rounds back in November on 'the Ring City' series on NBC Sports Network back in November.
Also on this bill is another interesting lightweight bout that involves veteran Javier Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs) and Joseph Diaz (31-1-1, 15 KOs), which is being contested for the WBC interim title. Fortuna was originally slated to take on Ryan Garcia, who dropped out of this assignment citing mental health issues. In his place stepped Diaz, who lost his IBF 130-pound title at the scales before squaring off against Shavkat Rahkhimov on February 13 (a fight that ended in a majority draw). The winner of this bout could be looking at an immediate title shot versus WBC lightweight champion, Devin Haney.
This card begins at noon on Friday (yes, noon) .... There are currently 12 fights on the bill, and it includes Lamont Roach and Azat Hovannysan. The DAZN portion of the card begins at 9 pm, PT/6 pm, PT with the Tanajara-Zepeda clash. This won’t be the first boxing event held in this venue, a couple of years ago Top Rank put on a show here featuring Emanuel Navarette, and Golden Boy held a public workout for the rematch between Canelo and Gennadiy Golovkin on a Sunday afternoon that was well-attended. Chris Colbert is a slick, well-schooled technician, it would be interesting to see him versus a legitimate puncher at 130....The Ring Magazine belt will be on the line when Manny Pacquiao and Errol Spence meet in August... Does anyone know when 'Succession' and 'Insecure' return on HBO? And 'Billions' on Showtime?.....My email is firstname.lastname@example.org....