By John J. Raspanti
When defending WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham arrived in Las Vegas last week, he expected to be a big favorite to win on April 9.
Makes sense. During his 16-year career, Abraham has swapped punches with most of the best fighters in his division, including former champions Carl Froch and Andre Ward.
Instead Abraham learned his opponent, unheralded youngster Gilberto Ramirez, was favored by most to defeat him.
Abraham was shocked.
After 12 rounds of boxing last Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Abraham probably wishes he had never accepted the bout.
Ramirez, 24, used his 5-inch height advantage in height and reach, to outclass Abraham over 12 rounds and capture the WBO crown—thus becoming the first Mexican-American to win a 168-pound belt.
He accomplished this using angles and activity, keeping the 36-year-old champion on the defensive. Abraham walked after him but came up way short in the punches department.
Southpaw Ramirez (34-0, 24 KOs) kept the fight on the outside, shooting his jab and nailing Abraham (44-5, 29 KOs) with effective bodyshots. Abraham looked annoyed, but didn’t have an answer for Ramirez’s consistent punching. He did land a good uppercut in Round three, but a follow-up right hook momentarily turned his legs to jello. Ramirez kept tattooing him with blows in the next several rounds.
Abraham protected his face and chin, keeping his gloves high. Problem was whenever he decided to counter, Ramirez moved away and reset. Abraham found some success in Round six, landing two good hooks, but soon found himself covering up as Ramirez outworked him.
In Rounds eight and nine, Ramirez worked off his back foot—beating Abraham to the punch. The soon-to-be-former champion followed Ramirez like a brokenhearted suitor, eating punches and offering little in return.
By the last round, Ramirez coasted while Abraham looked resigned to his fate.
The three judges at ringside had Ramirez winning every round. A couple of heats could have gone Abraham’s way—at least they did on this writers scorecard.
Overall, Ramirez looked pretty good, while Abraham was listless and unable to pull the trigger. Maybe it’s time to retire.
Whatever he does, it’s a given that Abraham now understands why so many picked Ramirez to win. Knowing that probably hurts as much as his bruised face.