By Dan Ambrose: WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham will be defending his title against Top Rank fighter Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (33-0, 24 KOs) on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fight will be televised on HBO pay-per-view, as the fight will the co-feature on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley card. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum hasn’t been putting on a lot of interesting fights on some of Pacquiao’s recent cards, but for his fight against Bradley, Arum is really stacking the card.
You can make an argument that Arum is only doing this because with Pacquiao saying he’s retiring after this fight, he’s going to need to have some popular fighters in his Top Rank stable that can step up and become stars themselves.
The 6’2” Gilberto Ramirez is just one of the many fighters in Arum’s Top Rank stable that he’s hoping can become a big star. Perhaps that’s why Arum is saying he wants Ramirez to face Gennady Golovkin in his first defense of his WBO title if he beats Abraham on 4/9.
It’s going to be tough on Abraham to be defending his WBO title in front of what will likely be a large pro-Ramirez crowd in this fight. Abraham is going to need to take the crowd out of it by attacking Ramirez and winning the rounds without any doubt.
If the crowd is screaming loud enough for Ramirez, it could wind up impressing the judges to give him the close rounds.
“I love boxing in Germany, but when the offer came to box in Las Vegas on the biggest stage on the planet, it was something we could not turn down,” Abraham said to ESPN.com. “It is every fighter’s dream to see their name up in bright lights on Las Vegas Strip, and on April 9 this dream will come true. There is no chance that I will leave my belt there. I will train harder than ever to deliver the best performance of my career.”
Abraham could spoil Arum’s dream of turning Ramirez into a big attraction for his Top Rank stable if he’s able to beat him conclusively. I don’t think for a second that Ramirez is going to be able to get a fight against Golovkin if he beats Abraham. But if he does get the victory over Abraham, it’s going to definitely help his star power.
The World Boxing Organization has a lot of soft opposition in their top 15 rankings, and it’s possible that Ramirez could milk his WBO title for a long period of time against weaker opposition. It would be kind of how Golden Boy Promotions has turned their fighter Saul “Canelo” Alvarez into a star at the expensive of limited fighters like Alfonso Gomez, Matthew Hatton, Austin Trout, James Kirkland, Kermit Cintron and Alfredo Angulo. However, Canelo has an advantage that Ramirez doesn’t possesses with his ability to dehydrate down in weight to originally 147, and then later 154 and 155 to fight lighter guys than himself.
After Canelo rehydrates, he comes in looking much bigger than his opponents and that definitely has helped him. Ramirez is going to have to win the old fashioned way by simply being the better fighter rather than the heavier fighter. Ramirez hasn’t shown the ability to dehydrate like Canelo. If Ramirez could dehydrate huge amounts of weight, he could perhaps fight at 155 too, and lure welterweights, junior middleweights and middleweights to that special weight before agreeing to fight them.
Ramirez has only been in the professional ranks since 2009, and he might not have the experience to fight a seasoned veteran like Abraham. What the 6’2” Ramirez has in his favor over the 5’9” Abraham is size and youth. At 24, Ramirez is a lot younger than the 35-year-old Abraham, and that could make up for what he lacks in experience.
“I am very proud to represent my country Mexico and make history on April 9 when I beat Arthur Abraham for the WBO world title and become the first Mexican fighter to claim the title at 168 pounds,” Ramirez said to ESPN.com. “This is the opportunity I have waited for since I turned professional,” Ramirez said.
Abraham’s trainer Ulli Wegner doesn’t want the outcome to be decided by the judges in this fight. Wegner plans on making sure that Abraham knockouts Ramirez so that there isn’t a repeat of the Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Sturm outcome from years ago.