By John J. Raspanti
Newly-minted WBC junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez returns home this Saturday night to face heavy underdog Danny O’Connor at Save Mart Arena in Fresno, CA.
Ramirez,25, captured the WBC belt by winning a hard-fought unanimous decision over Amir Iman last March in New York City. In his last appearance at Save Mart, the wildly popular Ramirez (22-0, 16 KOs) knocked out Mike Reed in less than five minutes.
His game is pressure and volume, punctuated by a strong overhand right.
O’Connor,33, is confident he’ll exit the ring with Ramirez’ belt around his waist. Confidence is a good and necessary thing, but how far will that get him against Ramirez?
Probably five or six rounds.
The gutsy O’Connor, a professional for 10 years, salvaged his career after being brutally knocked out by Gabriel Bracero four years ago. The southpaw from Massachusetts has won four fights in a row, rising from a knockdown in his last bout to defeat Steve Claggett.
O’Connor is thrilled to be getting a crack at a world title.
"This is a fight I’ve waited my whole life for,” O’Connor told Thomas Gerbasi of www.boxingscene.com. “Win, lose or draw on Saturday night, I’m gonna give it my all, and other that that, what else can I do?”
O’Connor insists that traveling to California to fight Ramirez is no big deal.
“I have no pressure of coming into his backyard to fight him,” said O’Connor via a press release from Top Rank. “I’m a firefighter and I run into burning buildings. There is no pressure whatsoever. At the end of the day, it is going to be just him and me inside the ring. I understand that the crowd will be cheering for him because this is his hometown, but that doesn’t rattle me.”
Ramirez, who resides in Avenal, CA, is expecting O’Connor to be the best that he can be.
"He seems like he is a veteran fighter,” Ramirez said in an article by Ryan Burton of boxingscene.com. “He seems like a tough fighter that can take some punches and can continue fighting. I am just getting myself ready to fight a very good Danny O’Connor.”
Trained by Freddie Roach since his pro debut five years ago, Ramirez will have Robert Garcia in his corner against O’Connor.
“I’m very grateful to Freddie and what he has done for my career," Ramirez told The Star website. “Robert is very hands-on.”
Ramirez wants to give his fans a show to remember Saturday night.
“This was my dream. Since I was little, I wanted to become a world champion and then be able to defend the title in front of the fans of the Central Valley. That is happening on Saturday.”
Garcia is enjoying working with Ramirez.
“One thing about Jose that I like a lot is his work ethic,” said Garcia. “He’s one of the hardest-working boxers I’ve seen. The fact that he won a world title and is still humble and trains hard is what I admire a lot about him.”
Ramirez is competing in a division loaded with talented names like Regis Prograis, Kiryl Relikh, Josh Taylor and Maurice Hooker.
Oddsmakers have made O’Connor a 42-1 underdog. This is a showcase fight for Ramirez.
Styles make fights, and O’Connor’s is made for Ramirez. Look for his big right to send O’Connor to the canvas.