Gilberto Ramirez targeting Dimitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev
By Sean Jones: Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez says he’s interested in facing 175-lb champions Artur Beterbiev and Dimitry Bivol soon. The former WBO super middleweight champion Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs) is fighting next month against NABF 175lb champion Alfonso Lopez (32-3, 25 KOs) on December 19th.
Ramirez says he’s interested in fighting at cruiserweight and possibly moving up to heavyweight. He’ll need to fill out a little more for him to fight in those divisions, but it’s possible.
The main thing that could hold Ramirez back is his lack of power, as he’s not a tremendous puncher. When he fought at 168, he won fights with his high work rate and his elusiveness.
To win world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight, Ramirez would need to make vast improvements in his power for him to have a real shot.
Ramirez facing a tough opponent
Before Ramirez can get to the world champions Bivol and Beterbiev at 175, he’s got to beat the 38-year-old Lopez, and this could prove to be a difficult match-up for him.
Lopez is a legitimate light-heavyweight with power in either hand, and Ramirez has never been difficult to hit during his 11-year pro career.
Ramirez, 29, and Lopez are fighting at the Galveston Island Convention Center, in Galveston, Texas. This will be Ramirez’s second fight since making his debut at light-heavyweight in April of 2019 in stopping journeyman Tommy Karpency in the fourth round.
Ramirez has been out of the ring for a year and a half since the Karpency fight, sidelined by the pandemic, and waiting, like many of the other fighters, for his chance to return to the ring.
The 6’2″ Ramirez vacated his WBO 168lb title in 2019 after five defenses due to it being too difficult for him to make weight for the division.
Ramirez said it was too hard on his body to make the 168-lb limit each time he would fight, which is why he decided to give up the strap.
Ramirez interested in fighting Usyk
“I’m moving up to light heavyweight and cruiserweight and heavyweight,” said Gilberto Ramirez. “Those are my plans. Never go back because it’s too hard on my body, and I want to be a legend.
“Always, of course,” Gilberto said when asked if he’d like to fight Oleksandr Usyk. “That’s a good fight. He’s a smart fighter, and he moves around.
“I’ve been watching him for a couple of years, and I watched him when he fought in the Muhammad Ali [tournament]. Yeah, he’s good. I like his style,” said ‘Zurdo’ about fighting Usyk.
A fight between Ramirez and Usyk is very far off right now, and i’s difficult to predict that it can happen in the future. First off, Ramirez needs to prove that he’s capable of winning world titles at 175.
There are many doubts that fans have about Ramirez’s viability at light-heavyweight because he’s not the biggest puncher, and he’s taken a lot of punishment in past fights at 168.
Ramirez struggled to beat Jesse Hart in their two fights at 168, and that’s something that the champions at 175, Beterbiev and Bivol, would likely have little problems beating.
Gilberto wants David Benavidez in future
“Of course, that fight will happen in the near future because he’s at 168, and he’s a big guy,” said Ramirez about a fight between him and David Benavidez.
“Eventually, he’s going to move up, and I want to stay at light heavyweight for a while. He’s a good fight for us and for the fans. We’ve been doing the sparring, and we’re friends, and we know each other really well.
“In the ring, the only thing that matters is to keep the belt and stay undefeated. He’s a good guy, humble guy, and he trains hard, and I would like to fight with him. He wants to be the best, and I want to be the best, and that’s the way it has to be,” said Ramirez.
Former WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez is technically still campaigning at 168 despite losing his title after failing to make weight for his defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo last August.
Likely, the 23-year-old Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) will need to move up to 175 soon, whether he wants to or not. Benavidez is resisting the move, though, seeing that there are many opportunities for big-money fights at 168 if he can remain in that division.
When Benavidez does move up to 175, a fight between him and Gilberto is the perfect match to make. Hopefully, Benavidez will have become more popular by fighting Canelo Alvarez, Daniel Jacobs, Caleb Plant, Billy Joe Saunders, and Callum Smith at 168.
Bivol and Beterbiev on Ramirez’s target list
“I think Bivol and the Russian guy Beterbiev,” said Gilberto in giving his target list for fights at 175. “The WBO belt is vacant, and the WBC. That fight will happen in the near future next year. I’m really excited.
“The division is really exciting, and they have power in their hands, and people want to see all the fights.
“December 19th in Texas and the opponent is Alfonso Lopez,” Ramirez said about his next fight. “He’s a guy from Texas, and he’s an ABA champion. I think it’s a good fight for me, and for the end of the year and all the fans.
They want me to come back to the arena, and I’m so excited to come back,” said Gilberto ‘Zurdo.’
Right now, most knowledgable boxing fans would make Ramirez a huge underdog against IBF/WBC light-heavyweight champion Artur Betebriev (15-0, 15 KOs) and WBA champ Dimitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs), but it’s still early,
If Ramirez can get back to the elusive style he used to defeat Arthur Abraham in 2016, he’s got a good shot at defeating Beterbiev and Bivol. But with the way Ramirez has been fighting in the last three years, he’ll have problems against those fighters.
Ramirez says he wants to go after the vacant WBO light-heavyweight title that Canelo Alvarez recently gave up.
Ranked #8 with the WBO, Ramirez isn’t in the position to challenge for the vacant title unless the sanctioning body wants to have a tournament to decide the eventual winner.
Ramirez vs. Joe Smith Jr would be an excellent fight for the vacant WBO light-heavyweight title.
It doesn’t seem likely that the World Boxing Organization will allow Ramirez to leapfrog over all the top contenders ahead of him to face #1 Smith Jr for the vacant WBO belt. It’s a very winnable fight for Ramirez if he does get a chance to fight the hard-hitting Smith.
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