(Photo Credit: Jim Laurie) By Dan Ambrose: Former heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson has advice or WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham (44-4, 29 KOs) in his title defense this Saturday night against unbeaten #1 WBO Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (33-0, 24 KOs) and that’s to knock the 24-year-old fighter out when the two of them face each other on HBO Championship Boxing at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Abraham-Ramirez will be fighting on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley card.
Abraham, who is based in Germany, will be coming over to fight on this Top Rank promoted fight card against one of their youngest prospects in Ramirez. Getting a win over the home A-side fighter could be difficult for Abraham unless he takes the judges out of the equation completely by knocking Ramirez out. You’ve got to figure that the crowd will be firmly on Ramirez’s side despite the fact that he’s not American.
Ramirez has fought in the United States seven times in the last four years, so he’s someone that the American fans know really well. In contrast, the 36-year-old Abraham has fought just three times in the U.S during his 13-year pro career in fights against Edison Miranda, Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell. Abraham lost two out of those three fights in defeats against Ward and Dirrell.
“Arthur, do it like me – win by knockout! You can do it – Knockout!” said Mike Tyson to Abraham via Fightnews.com.
“If Mike says that, then I’ll do that, of course,” said Abraham. “For my fans and for him, on Saturday I’ll bring out the ‘Abrahammer’ again!”
The one thing that Abraham has going for him in this fight is punching power. He’s clearly the better puncher than the 6’2 ½” Ramirez. However, the 5’9” Abraham will be giving away a great deal of height and reach as well as age to the 24-year-old Ramirez. The size difference is going to make it difficult for Abraham unless he can get near enough to Ramirez to connect with his big shots.
Ramirez could make it easy for Abraham if he gets too close and tries to fight on the inside. Up until recently, Ramirez fought exclusively on the inside against all of his opponents. However, he changed his fighting style in his last two fights against Derek Edwards and Gevorg Khatchikian. Those were poor opponents though, and unable to put the pressure on Ramirez to force him back into his old style of fighting. It’s quite likely that Ramirez will revert back to his old style of fighting on Saturday night if Abraham applies enough pressure. Ramirez patterned his fighting style after Julio Cesar Chavez.
It would have been a good thing if he were short and small like Chavez, but it made no sense for someone as big as Ramirez to be giving up his height and reach against shorter opponents in the 168lb division. After Ramirez struggled to beat fringe contender Maxim Vlasov last year in January 2015, it was clear that Ramirez had to change his fighting style if he wanted to have a chance of ever winning a world title.
Vlasov had Ramirez hurt several times in that fight, and Vlasov isn’t known for being a big puncher. If Vlasov was able to hurt Ramirez, then there’s a great chance that Abraham will be able to do the same and much worse on Saturday night. Ramirez may have a chin problem that has been hidden due to the poor opposition his promoter Bob Arum has been matching him against since he turned pro seven years ago in 2009.
‘’Fighting away from home, I know I must win convincingly,’’ said Abraham. ‘’Especially in Las Vegas where the judges favor activity. This is what I have prepared for. The high-altitude training in Bulgaria has been extremely helpful. In terms of conditioning, I have rarely been better. The whole thing reminds me of my second fight against Edison Miranda.’’
Abraham stopped Miranda in the 4th round in their rematch in June 2008 in Hollywood, Florida. A lot of boxing fans felt that Miranda was going to win the rematch with Abraham, because he had broken Abraham’s jaw in their first fight in 2006 in Germany. Abraham won a controversial 12 round decision, but only because Miranda had five points deducted from him by the referee working the fight for things like low blows and head-butts.
“This will be a tough test. I know I must produce my best ever performance to overcome this challenge and retain my WBO title,” said Abraham.
There’s a lot less hype for the Abraham-Ramirez fight compared to the Abraham-Miranda fight eight years ago, but the fight is no less important for Abraham. If he loses to Ramirez, then it could be a while before he gets another crack at the WBO title. Arum has already said that he wants to match Ramirez up with the big names if he wins the title on Saturday. Arum wants to start off by matching Ramirez in an in house fight against his Top Rank fighter Jesse Hart in the summer.
If Ramirez wins that fight, then Arum will look to try and match Ramirez with guys like Gennady Golovkin, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and Miguel Cotto. Arum wants to turn Ramirez into a star overnight, and the easiest way for him to accomplish this task is to have him beat one of the stars in the 160lb division. There aren’t any stars in the 168lb division that are big enough names to transform Ramirez into a superstar at this current time.
That’s why Arum will need to raid the 160 and possibly the 154lb division to get opponents with big enough names to make Ramirez a star. Arum isn’t going to do anything crazy like matching Ramirez against some of the top light heavyweights like Sergey Kovalev, Artur Beterbiev or Adonis Stevenson. Ramirez has the size to fight all of those guys, but he doesn’t have their same boxing skills or punching power. Those three 175lb fighters can really punch, and they don’t possess many flaws in their games.
Abraham needs to go right after Ramirez with clubbing head shots to take advantage of his chin problem, and to draw him into a war. I suspect that Ramirez is still the same fighter that only knows how to fight on the inside when matched tough.