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Gilberto Ramirez vs. Max Bursak on April 22

By Dan Ambrose: A year after winning the WBO World super middleweight title last year in 2016, Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (34-0, 24 KOs) will be making his first defense of his WBO belt against #10 WBC Max Bursak (33-4-1, 15 KOs) on April 22 at a still to be determined venue in California. Some boxing fans see Ramirez as the next Canelo Alvarez, but a better version with more boxing skills and more potential.

Ramirez, 25, won the World Boxing Organization 168lb title last year in April in beating former WBO champion Arthur Abraham by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 120-108 x 3. Ramirez hasn’t fought since due to an injury to one of the knuckles in his right hand that he suffered while training.

The 32-year-old Ukrainian Bursak is a decent fringe level contender with 3 defeats in his last 7 fights. The WBO is the only sanctioning body that has Bursak ranked in the top 15. One reason for that is the fact that Bursak is getting beaten so frequently nowadays. The WBO is cutting Bursak a lot of slack by still having him ranked in their top 15, because he’s not winning when he steps it up a level. In the three years, Bursak has had losses to Jarrod Fletcher, Zac Dunn and Martin Murray. Bursak was also beaten by Hassan N’Dam by a 12 round unanimous decision in 2012.

Bursak was supposed to challenge WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders last year on April 30 at the Copper Box Arena in London, England, but the fight was canceled after Saunders suffered a hand injury. Rather than Saunders rescheduling the title defense against Bursak, he chose to defend his WBO title against Artur Akavov.

Bursak failed to get the title defense. Bursak has been a pro since 2004. His best wins have come against Nick Blackwell, Brian Vera, Giovanni De Carolis, Prince Arron and Julien Marie Sainte.

Bursak has won his last two fights since losing to Zac Dunn by a 12 round unanimous decision on June 27, 2015. Bursak’s last two wins have come against Giorgi Beroshvili and Ruslan Schelev. Those are not exactly household names in the boxing world, and you can argue that Bursak shouldn’t be getting a title shot with Ramirez off the back of those two empty victories.

Ramirez is interested in facing the likes of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, but that fight won’t be taking place until the Kazakhstan fighter moves up in weight in the future. The 6’2” Ramirez will need to hold onto his title long enough for that fight to take place. In the meantime, it would be good if Ramirez’s promoters at Top Rank matched him up against some of the other champions in the super middleweight division or at the very least against a quality contender.

Arthur Abraham wants a rematch against Ramirez. That would be a good fight. Ramirez needs to increase his popularity in the boxing world. He’s not going to be able to do that if Top Rank has him fighting fringe contenders like Bursak. Ramirez needs to fight some of the high quality fighters in the division so he can prove himself to the boxing fans and establish a fan base like the one Saul Canelo Alvarez has going for him.

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