By Chris Williams: WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (37-0, 25 KOs) will be making his fourth defense of his title this Saturday night against unbeaten WBO #10 contender Roamer Alexis Angulo (23-0, 20 KOs) on Top Rank Boxing on ESPN at the Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Ramirez is tall for the 168 lb. weight class at 6’2 ½”, but he can’t punch. Ramirez is a long-armed volume puncher. He wins his fights by throwing lots of shots in going the distance. However, when Ramirez is facing middle of the road opposition, which unfortunately has become the norm for him, he can score knockouts. He’s still not a big puncher. He’s just good at knocking out fighters without much talent and with inflated rankings/records.
Angulo is listed at 6’1″, but when he stood next to Ramirez during the face off, he appeared at least four to five inches shorter. At best, Angulo is 5’10”, which is very short for super middleweight. At worst, he might be no taller than 5’9″. That’s just a little taller than Ramirez’s last opponent 5’8″ Habib Ahmed. It’s unclear why Top Rank keeps matching Ramirez against short fighters. It makes you wonder. Do they doubt whether he can beat the taller fighters?
“I don’t feel like he has any advantages. We both have two legs. We both have two arms,” Angulo said. “We both have two eyes. We are equals, and anything can happen when you get in the ring. It has been my dream to fight for a world title, and now the opportunity is here. Gilberto Ramirez is a great champion, but my time is now.”
Ramirez’s 34-year-old opponent Roamer Alexis Angulo has been a pro since 2010, but he’s never fought any contenders. The World Boxing Organization has seemingly ranked Angulo highly based on his wins over poor fighters, which is disappointing because sanctioning bodies are supposed to rank fighters that face quality opposition.
Here are Angulo’s last 10 opponents:
– Evert Bravo (24-8)
– Rolando Wenceslao Mansila (13-4-1)
– Valerio Marte (6-20)
– Ramon Jimenez (2-34)
– Zoltan Pap (11-3-1)
– Claudio Ariel Abalos (30-15-3)
– Matingu Kindele (7-4)
– Izaak Cardona (14-3)
– Junior Ramos (10-10)
– Slavisa Simeunovic (12-8)
Those guys are so bad that it makes you wonder what is going through the minds of the WBO for them to give Angulo a top 10 ranking with their organization. In looking at how horrible those fighters are, Angulo doesn’t belong even in the top 200 at super middleweight, because his ring record is completely padded.
ESPN will be showing the Ramirez vs. Angulo on their network to whoever is willing to tune in to watch it on Saturday night. The casual boxing fans might be interested initially if they watch from the very start of
the broadcast when the commentators bring up Ramirez and Angulo’s unbeaten records. If the fans are impressed by superficial things like gleaming records, they’ll be more intrigued with this match-up, and might come away from watching it thinking that Ramirez is the best fighter on the planet. I’m sure that’s the likely rationale by Ramirez’s promoters in matching him against a fighter as poor as Angulo. If the fans see Ramirez battering Angulo all over the ring on Saturday, they’re going to get on board the hype train and become huge fans of his. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to work out like that. It’s more likely that the boxing public is going to spot the lack of talent in Angulo right away, and wonder why Ramirez is defending his WBO 168 lb. title against such a horrible fighter. If the fans don’t get bored immediately and turn the channel, they’ll sit through a horribly one-sided fight between a champion and a guy that has no real business being inside the ring with him. Ramirez isn’t THE champion at 168. He’s just one of the six.
The other champions at super middleweight are as follows:
– David Benavidez – WBC
– George Groves – WBA Super World
– Tyrone Zeuge – WBA World (AKA WBA ‘regular’ or WBA secondary champion)
– James DeGale – IBF
– Jose Uzcategui – interim IBF
I rate Ramirez as the fourth best champion in the division, but not the fourth best fighter. I see contender Callum Smith as being a better fighter than Ramirez.
Here are my ratings in terms of the best champions at super middleweight:
1. George Groves
2. Jose Uzcategui
3. David Benavidez
4. Gilberto Ramirez
I haven’t seen anything in Ramirez’s came that would suggest that he beats Groves, Uzcategui or Benavidez. Those guys are too good and Ramirez is too protected. For a fighter to improve, they need to be matched against high quality opposition, and that simply isn’t happening with Ramirez.
This is the second consecutive embarrassingly bad opponent for the Mexican native Ramirez by his promoters at Top Rank. His previous title defense came against a fighter named Habib Ahmed last February. Ahmed was ranked highly by the World Boxing Organization in the top five, and he looked like he didn’t belong inside the ring with Ramirez. Ahmed was too small to compete, and he lacked the talent to give Ramirez a good fight. It was such a horrible mismatch that Ramirez came out of the fight looking bad in the eyes of the boxing public for fighting such a poor opponent. Showcase fights, like Ramirez-Ahmed, backfire when the opponent is so dreadfully bad that the fans take notice and fail to give credit to the winner. The questions many of the fan were asking after the fight is why did Top Rank match Ramirez against a guy like Ahmed? The conclusion many fans reached is the promotional company isn’t
interested in matching Ramirez against guys that could potentially beat him and spoil his chances of becoming a star.
Top Rank is trying to turn the 27-year-old Ramirez into a star, but they’re taking the backyard route to doing it by matching him against powder puff opposition with inflated rankings and unbeaten records. Instead of having Ramirez face the best in the 168l lb. weight class, Top Rank is sticking him in with poorer opposition like the 34-year-old Colombian Angulo, Max Burak, Habib Ahmed, Gevorg Khatcikian, Derek Edwards, Fulgencio Zuniga, Don Mouton, Junior Talipeau and Giovanni Lorenzo. The result is Ramirez’s career has lost traction in the last four years. Instead of Ramirez getting more popular with the boxing pubic, he’s arguably become the forgotten man in the super middleweight division.
When is Gilberto Ramirez going to finally start facing good opposition?
It’s really frustrating for fans to see the 6’2 ½” southpaw Ramirez matched against stiffs repeatedly seemingly without end by his promoters. While most promoters would be looking to match their top fighters against the best, Ramirez has been kept in the slow lane by his promoters and matched in a way that suggests to some that he lacks the talent to face the better fighters. After all, if Ramirez was truly a good fighter, he’d be matched against better fighters, wouldn’t he? Ramirez’s only two fights during his career against quality opposition has come against Jesse Hart and Maksim Vlasov. Those are good fighters, but obviously not world championship level. If they were, they would have beaten Ramirez. They did give Ramirez a lot of problems in losing efforts. Those two guys showed that Ramirez is not good enough to fight the best without him struggling.
Ramirez needs to start facing better opposition if he wants to keep from losing interest from his boxing fans. Guys like Saul Canelo Alvarez remain popular because he’s willing to take risks by facing some of the best opposition in the sport. We’re not seeing that with Ramirez. For Ramirez to follow Canelo’s lead, he needs to put pressure on his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank to insist that he match him against guys like Zeuge, Uzcatgui, Callum Smith, Groves and Benavidez. If Ramirez isn’t good enough to beat those fighters, then so be it. He needs to be dethroned if he can’t hang with those guys. Perhaps after Ramirez is beaten once or twice, he’ll make improvements and look better in his future fights. If not, then he might need to move up in weight to light heavyweight. Frankly, I don’t see Ramirez doing well at 175 against the lions up there. If Ramirez tangles with Dmitry Bivol, Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson and Artur Beterbiev, I don’t see it ending well for him. Ramirez is said to have sparred with Bivol a couple of years ago. I can’t imagine that sparring session going well for Ramirez. Bivol is a strong puncher with good size, who throws a lot of straight shots. My guess is Ramirez’s sparring session with Bivol made him even more determined to do whatever he had to in order to keep making weight at 168. It would likely end badly for Ramirez if he moved up to light heavyweight to have to fight guys like Bivol.
Ramirez will likely stop the over-matched Angulo by the 6th round on Saturday. I’d like for Angulo to give Ramirez a good test, but I can’t see it happening. Angulo’s opposition has been so terrible during his short eight-year pro career that he won’t stand a chance against Ramirez.