Gilberto Ramirez fights Habib Ahmed in Corpus Christi, TX
By Chris Williams: WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (36-0, 24 KO) will be making a voluntary defense of his title next year on February 3 against unbeaten #6 WBO Habib Ahmed (26-0-1, 18 KOs) at the Bank of America Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Ramirez vs. Ahmed will be televised live at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
This will be the third defense for Ramirez for his World Boxing Organization super middleweight title that he won last year in beating Arthur Abraham by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision on April 9. In his first defense, Ramirez defeated WBO fringe contender Max Bursak by a lackluster 12 round unanimous decision on April 22 of this year.
It was a performance was nothing like Ramirez’s win over Abraham. It was a dull fight to watch due to Ramirez trying to box a very beatable fighter in Bursak. Ramirez should have walked through Bursak, but instead he boxed him and made it a dull fight. Perhaps in response to the criticism from the boxing world about his performance, Ramirez came out slugging in his last title defense against Jessie Hart on September 22. It was a fun fight to watch for the fans, but it turned out to be a grueling one for Ramirez, who took terrible punishment to the head from the hard hitting Hart.
Ramirez, 26, just came through a real war in his 12 round unanimous decision win over Jesse Hart on September 22. Ramirez barely won the fight and was hurt a number of times. To say that Ramirez was exposed by Hart is an understatement. Ramirez was shown to be little more than an easy to hit volume puncher by a fighter that recently almost beaten by a journeyman in Dashon Johnson.
This is a very unusual pick by Ramirez’s promoters at Top Rank in having him fight an obscure fighter like Ahmed, who appears to have a padded record of nothing but fluff opponents. But the purpose of Top Rank picking out a guy with a padded record in Ahmed is to make him look good in front of the casual boxing fans, which will be easily impressed by his 26-0 record. They won’t bother to look at Ahmed’s resume the way the hardcore boxing fans will to discover that it’s padded with journeyman and fighters making their pro debut.
“Gilberto Ramirez has proven that he is the best of the super middleweights,” said Ramirez’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank. ”All you have to do is look at his world championship victories against Arthur Abraham and Jesse Hart. Gilberto has quickly become the face of boxing on both sides of the border.”
Arum is obviously going overboard in praising the 6’2” Ramirez, because he’s clearly not the face of boxing, as he says, and he’s definitely NOT the best fighter in the 168 lb. division. We just saw last September that Ramirez isn’t the best fighter in the super middleweight division with the way he struggled against Jesse Hart. Ramirez won that fight by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 115-112, 114-113 and 115-112. Boxing News 24 scored the fight in favor or Hart by a 114-113 score.
Ramirez kept getting rocked by right hands from Hart, and it was impossible to give him a win. But you can’t blame the 86-year-old Arum for telling the boxing fans that Ramirez is the best. After all, he’s got to promote the guy somehow, and he’s not going to tell the fans that he’s not that great fighter.
I rate Ramirez at this level in the super middleweight division:
1. George Groves
2. Chris Eubank Jr.
3. Callum Smith
4. James DeGale
5. Anthony Dirrell
6. Andre Dirrell
7. David Benavidez
8. Gilberto Ramirez
9. Jose Uzcategui
10. Tyron Zeuge
If Ramirez wasn’t so easy to hit and vulnerable, he’d be rated higher, but he’s too upright and flawed for him to be rated higher than No.8. Arum is going to need to keep matching Ramirez against guys like Ahmed if he wants to build him to where he can someday become a big money maker for Top Rank. Right now, Ramirez isn’t becoming more popular the way hat Saul Canelo Alvarez was earlier in his career.
Ramirez is little younger than the 27-year-old Canelo, but he’s nowhere near as popular as him. Top Rank has got their work cut out for them if they want to make Ramirez into another Canelo like fighter.
Ramirez has got the looks to become a star, but he’s lacking the knockout power and the hand speed to be a real draw. With Canelo, he has the hand speed and decent enough power for him to make the boxing fans want to pay to see him fight in the U.S. Canelo clearly isn’t the best fighter in the middleweight division, as we saw in his recent controversial 12 round draw against Gennady Golovkin last September, but he’s got enough talent to keep fans watching his fights.
Ramirez has to improve on his power somehow, because he’s never going to be able to overwhelm the fans with his hand speed. He is what he is. Ramirez has decent speed, but his main thing is to try and win his fights with his punch output. To win like that, Ramirez will be forced to put his chin on the line and take some big shots from his opponents.
“I have an important message for Gilberto Ramirez,” said Ahmed. “I am coming to America to take your title. I am going for the knockout,” said Ahmed.
Ahmed’s opposition are unknowns. He’s beaten a lot of guys that even hardcore boxing fans have never heard of, which is why the WBO seems to have made a strange choice in giving him a ranking at No.6 with their organization.
Just based on opposition, Ahmed probably be ranked a lot lower than No.6, perhaps not even in the top 15, period. It’s important for fighters to beat quality guys if they want to get a serious ranking based on accomplishment rather than just a padded record. I’ll let the boxing fans judge for themselves.
Here is Ahmed’a last 10 opponents:
• Flash Issaka (23-14)
• Ibrahim Marshall (13-6-1)
• Philip Kotey (30-10-2)
• George Amazu (18-18)
• George Bamson (3-7)
• Kewsi Tutu (11-23)
• David Okine (0-0)
• David Okai (17-14)
• Atoli Moore (13-3)
• Francis Manda (3-6)
Just looking at the dreadful records of Ahmed’s opponents in his last 10 fights, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t belong rated so highly with the WBO. None of the other sanctioning bodies has Ahmed ranked in their top 15, which is a pretty good hint that they don’t see him as being worthy of a top ranking. It’s unclear what the WBO sees in Ahmed’s past wins for them to rank him so highly.