Will Gilberto Ramirez remain a light heavyweight after Saturday nights victory?
By Bill Tibbs
Who: Gilberto Ramirez
What: 175-pound debut, Top Rank Boxing – Live on ESPN
When: Friday, April 12
Where: Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (40-0, 26 KO’s) the longtime WBO 168-pound titlist made a successful 175-pound debut on Friday night at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California stopping light heavyweight gate-keeper Tommy Karpency (29-7-1, 18 KO’s).
His 175-pound debut was the chief support bout to Vasiliy Lomachenko’s impressive lightweight title defense against England’s Anthony Crolla.
Mexico-born, now Los Angeles-residing Ramirez stands just under 6’3” and even has to work to make 175-pounds. He entered the ring on Friday night at a reported 196-pounds – that’s almost an incredible 30-pounds heavier than the weight in which he was recently campaigning at as a super middleweight.
While Ramirez still holds the WBO super middleweight belt, a title he has owned since 2016 when he beat German star Arthur Abraham, one must ask if he will ever be able to campaign at that weight again.
The only fight that might be able to make him torture his body to get back down to the super middleweight limit is a possible fight with Liverpool, England’s Callum Smith who sits at 25-0 and is the WBA and WBC (Diamond) world super middleweight champion. Smith’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, who has been doing a lot of business with Ramirez’s promotional firm, Top Rank, has proposed that a Smith-Ramirez bout would do huge business in England and there might be enough digits on Ramirez’s cheque to make himself get back down to 168-pounds. However, when he stepped in the ring 20-pounds heavier that his light heavyweight limit on Friday night in Los Angeles, it gave a pretty clear indication of how much he had been taking out of his body to make the 168-pound limit.
After the fight Karpency, who knows a thing or two about quality light heavyweights having faced Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Chad Dawson, Adonis Stevenson and Nathan Cleverly in his career said that, “He’s equal to the guys I’ve fought, no better, no worse”. While his praise was slightly under-whelming, being compared to division champions after only one bout at the weight isn’t too shabby.
Ramirez, clearly comfortable at the weight seemed to be leaning towards to staying at light heavyweight moving forward.
“I feel a lot of power. I feel that I’m more comfortable at 175,” he told Top Rank Boxing’s Crystina Poncher after the fight.
Callum Smith has a fight scheduled for June in New York so if Ramirez were to move back down to 168-pounds for a super middleweight unification fight it would be at the end of 2019 at the very earliest. Something tells me that the next title fight we see “Zurdo” in will be for a light heavyweight title. He had a very successful campaign as a super middleweight champion but I think his body is telling him that the 168 run is done - bring on the best at 175.