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Avila Perspective, Chap 138: The Journey of Jose Carlos Ramirez

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  • Avila Perspective, Chap 138: The Journey of Jose Carlos Ramirez

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    By David A. Avila

    Unification has a certain solid ring to it. Undisputed sounds even better.

    Jose Carlos Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) and Josh Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) meet on Saturday May 22, to decide who wears the title of undisputed super lightweight world champion. Their fight takes place at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada. ESPN will televise the prize fight.

    “I’ve always been the underdog. That’s my mentality. I am fighting for my place in boxing history. No boxer of Mexican descent has ever held all four world title belts. I’m aware that most people are picking against me, but that only fuels me further,” said Ramirez the WBC and WBO titlist.

    Scotland’s Taylor is slotted as the favorite to win the unification clash.

    "This fight means the world to me. Puts my name in the history books as one of the {best} Scottish fighters in history,” said IBF and WBA titlist Taylor who trained in Las Vegas for this fight. “I'm so confident. This is a pure boxing fight. "I'm confident I'm getting the KO on Saturday."

    Northern California has long produced its share of talented prizefighters from Diego Corrales to Andre Ward. Though not as populated as Southern California the Northern Californians still have been able to groom standout fighters.

    When Ramirez first emerged on the amateur boxing scene he was a mixture of hurricane intensity and manic focus as he battered foes to gain a spot on the US Olympic team in 2012.

    Unlike many Olympians, the Mexican-American fighter from Avenal, California had a fighting style that favored pro boxing. But there were elements of the amateur sport that lingered with Ramirez and took a few years to eliminate.

    The first time I saw the 2012 Olympian step in the prize ring as a professional, he was one of the opening bouts on the night Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao with one punch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Also, that night, Ramirez stopped his foe in one round. Few remembered.

    His second pro bout was on the undercard of Mike Alvarado’s win over “Bam Bam” Rios in a bludgeoning rematch battle between the two super lightweights. Those two battered each other three times. That night Ramirez won by first round stoppage again.

    In Ramirez’s first Los Angeles fight card he made his first appearance at the StubHub now called the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson on September 2013. That day he bludgeoned his way to a four round decision win over Daniel Calzada. Bludgeon was the correct term to describe Ramirez’s style.

    Some fans were erroneously calling him “Rancho Ramirez” after the Mexican fighter with the same surname who fought in the late 90s. This Ramirez was a blunt instrument who out-punched and overpowered opponents in brutal fashion, but I wasn’t impressed.

    Though trained by Freddie Roach at the time, the 2012 Olympian seemed intent on knocking out everyone but didn’t seem to pack that one-punch power that others possessed.

    Several years passed before I saw Ramirez again on a Top Rank card. It didn’t seem like he would develop into an elite fighter. But I was pleasantly surprised.

    Fighting on the third encounter between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley that took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in April 2016, the super lightweight fighter Ramirez took on Manuel Perez, a solid veteran from Denver. It was a true test. That night the fighter from Avenal showed vast improvement in his overall skills. No longer did he try to bludgeon his way to victory, he seemed to have a plan and focus.

    Ramirez continued to improve.

    A change of trainers resulted in Ramirez switching from Freddie Roach in Hollywood to the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, California. Though Roach is an outstanding trainer, the move allowed Ramirez to immerse himself into a virtual boot camp of Mexican-style fighters. Every day he’s among pugilists like Mikey Garcia, Vergil Ortiz Jr., Joshua Franco, Saul Rodriguez and many others.

    It's an army of different styles all encamped on a steep Southern California hillside.

    Title Fights

    It’s easy to win when everything is stacked on your side, but try traveling to New York and beating a fighter from the East Coast. That’s what Ramirez did when he met Amir Ahmed Imam for the vacant WBC super lightweight world title at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 17, 2018.

    California fighters are not welcome on the East Coast, especially aggressive fighters of Mexican descent. It’s not a racial thing, it’s a fighting style preference. New Yorkers, in particular, prefer shoulder rolls to double left hooks. They prefer jabs and slippery moves to pressure style fighters that use offense for defense. They prefer ring generalship to pure physical domination.

    Ramirez used his pressure style to break down Imam and win his first world title match by unanimous decision.

    He defended the title twice in epic battles with Antonio Orozco and Jose Zepeda that showcased the pressure style West Coast fighters prefer. No backing up. Both of those battles were memorable brutal affairs. Ramirez emerged the victor.

    Unifying the super lightweight division was one of the goals Ramirez sought so there was no hesitation to accept a match against WBO titlist Maurice Hooker on July 2019. They met in Hooker’s neighborhood of Arlington, Texas and immediately Ramirez dropped him to gain advantage. Hooker quickly recovered and showed how he became a champion with determination and ranginess.

    Not to be thwarted, Ramirez rebooted his attack and stopped Hooker in the sixth round to win the unification war.

    Josh Taylor

    Scotland’s Taylor captured the IBF super lightweight title with a strong effort against Ivan Baranchyk to win by unanimous decision in Glasgow in May 2019. He then challenged WBA super lightweight titlist Regis Prograis of the USA in a unification match in October 2019 at London, England.

    Taylor displays a gritty style and solid chin that even physically strong Prograis could not crack in their rugged 12-round fight. Bloodied, bruised and battered, the Scotsman withstood nonstop assaults by the American slugger and won by majority decision that could have gone in Prograis’s favor. It was very close, but he survived to unify the IBF and WBA titles.

    A first defense saw Taylor run over Apinun Khongsong in a one round demolition via a body shot Mexican’s call “el gancho.” The road was now clear to determine the undisputed super lightweight world champion.

    “You don't become a unified champion out of anywhere. You have to be a great fighter. I highly respect him. He is a great fighter and a great person, but on Saturday night, as soon as that bell rings, all that goes out the window," said Taylor.


    Jose Ramirez arrives at the Virgin Hotel with a small army of Robert Garcia Boxing Academy fighters who all train in Riverside, California.

    Luis Coria (12-4, 7 KOs), a slender slugger from Perris, California, meets Jose Durantes (20-1, 11 KOs) in an eight-round super featherweight battle. Despite losing back-to-back fights in the Bubble last year, Coria gained respect for quickly accepting fights against Adam Lopez and Robson Conceicao and putting on two great shows. He’s a real prizefighter.

    Another RGBA fighter is Raymond Muratalla (11-0) a slick-fighting lightweight out of Fontana, California who meets Jose Gallegos (20-10) in an eight-round fight. Muratalla bedazzles with his defense but can pop.

    Completing the quartet of RGBA fighters is middleweight Javier Martinez (3-0) a tall southpaw from Milwaukee. He meets veteran Calvin Metcalf (10-5-1) in a six-round bout. At 25 years old Martinez is in a sink or swim situation and this fight provides a litmus test for the Wisconsin fighter.

    But in the main event Ramirez leads the way in pursuit of the undisputed super lightweight crown.

    “I can't afford to lose. That's always been my mentality. I always find a way to win," Ramirez said.

    Fights to Watch

    Fri. Telemundo 11:30 p.m. Jonathan Gonzalez (23-3-1) vs Armando Torres (26-18).

    Sat. ESPN+ 1:45 p.m. Luis Coria (12-4) vs Jose Durantes (20-1)

    Sat. ESPN 5 p.m. Jose Carlos Ramirez (26-0) vs Josh Taylor (17-0).

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

    Photo of Ramirez sparring by Yuriko Miyota

  • #2
    I have been waiting to watch this fight, ever since I heard it first announced just felt right a good match up. I was not sure who to pick trying to stay nuetral on those involved not easy to do in boxing for me. Then someone who is smarter then me told me who would win "Taylor" I knew then I had to be in Ramirez corner. So I have listened and read write ups for this fight since and before. Now Arnie that was a solid write up for a fight got to the fighters and how they developed just a great lead into a great fight card. So much appreciated man. I see this as a solid fight I know all are picking Taylor for a few reasons but I want to see Ramirez take it in a real battle of will and skill. And of course a lot of gutz. Enjoy the fight(s) those that are into this card. Hey this is what fights are about, getting hyped up for the card taking in the people who know the sport having the right people around to watch the fighters and the food will be nice too........................ Enjoy