Perfect connection: Gilberto Ramirez & Trainer Julian Chua
Back in February of 2019, World Boxing Organization (WBO) Super Middleweight Champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez had made a decision to move up to fight in the light heavyweight division, and he was searching for a new head trainer.
Ramirez (41-0, 27 KOs) immediately connected with a then 28-year-old Julian Chua, a former amateur boxer who had been training boxers at Freddie Roach’s famed Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, California. “Zurdo” and Chua are now 2-0 (2 KOs) and preparing for a mega-fought later this year, ideally, against undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) Super Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs).
How Ramirez ended up with Chua as he head trainer isn’t a typical boxing story. After all, “Zurdo” was the first Mexican world super middleweight champion, sporting a 29-0 pro record, and only 27 when they first met.
Ramirez’ manager, David Suh, conducted a search to hire Ramirez’ chief second. He had a list that included some of the top trainers in the industry, as well as a young, relatively unknown – at least outside of southern California – in Chua.
“I don’t know how I got on that list,” a humble Chua said. “There was going to be a tryout of sorts to determine who would work with ‘Zurdo.’ We trained together in Long Beach (where Ramirez was training) and then I met with David for coffee. He asked if I was interested in becoming the head trainer. We trained together a little more. He liked the way I trained, and we got along well. I texted David saying we liked working together and that I was interested in becoming his head trainer.
“We clicked right away, and we learned things about each other and how we liked to train. I study a lot and do a lot of research of how he had been trained, because I wanted to help him to improve. I was getting four fighters ready in LA and “Zurdo” couldn’t go there for sparring. I said I couldn’t leave these fighters and go to Santa Barbara. “Zurdo” respected me even more for not jumping ship from those four fighters for a better opportunity. We still wanted to work with each other, and ‘Zurdo’ made it work. I went to Long Beach twice a week, he came to Wildcard three times.”
Ramirez won his light heavyweight debut April 12, 2019, when Tommy Karpency (29-6-1) was unable to continue after four rounds, followed last December 18th with a 10th round stoppage of Alfonso Lopez (32-3) to capture the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title.
Chua was trained by Roach when he was an amateur from Indiana, but when Chua started at Wildcard, Roach’s assistant Eric Brown became Chua’s mentor. During his training career at Wildcard West Boxing, known now as Churchill Boxing in Santa Barbara, Chua has trained several world champions in boxing and MMA.
The 29-year-old Ramirez, who recently signed an exclusive promotional contract with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, is currently ranked No. 3 by the WBA and WBO. “Zurdo” returns to action July 9th in Los Angeles against Sullivan Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs).
Whether it’s Bivol, or the other world light heavyweight champions — Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith – “Zurdo” and Chua are preparing to beat the best for Ramirez to wear the coveted World championship crown in a second division.
41-0 Gilberto Ramirez on mission to join exclusive 50-0 Club
Only five boxers have started their professional careers with a 50-fight win streak and the contemporary leader, 41-0 Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez is on a mission to join the exclusive club, continuing July 9th in Los Angeles against Sullivan Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs).
Ramirez, who recently signed an exclusive promotional contract with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, was the first Mexican-born super middleweight World champion, and he is currently the No. 3 rated light heavyweight in the world, by the World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO).
Although he won’t turn 30 until June 19, Ramirez has been fighting professionally for nearly 12 years, and one of his goals is to become a World champion in two different weight classes. Another is joining his idol and fellow Mexican, Julio Cesar Chavez in the 50-0 Club, in which he is No. 1 having amazingly won his first 87 pro fights. The first blemish on his pro record was a 12-round majority draw with the great Pernell Whitaker in 1993 in their WBC World welterweight title fight.
“Getting to 50-0 is very important, but I’m more interested in being able to fight the fights the fans want,” Ramirez said. “I’ve never turned down a fight and have made it clear to all the fighters I want. I look across the division and none of these fighters are on my level”
Chavez moved ahead of featherweight icon Will Pep at 62, No. 2 on the contemporary list, compiled in less than three years dating back to the 1940’s. Pep lost for the first time as a pro to Sammy Angott by 10-round decision in 1943.
Thailand mini-flyweight Wanheng Menayothin, originally a Muay Thai fighter, had his streak snapped last November at 54 by Panya Pradabsri.
Another Mexican boxer is in the 50-0 Club, No. 4 Carlos Zarate, who reached 52 straight victories off his pro debut, 51 by knockout, in the 1970’s. Zarate was stopped in his 53rd fight by Puerto Rican star Wilfredo Gomez in the fifth round of their 1978 WBC super bantamweight World championship match.
The only member of the exclusive 50-0 Club to retire undefeated is Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. in fifth place with 50.
The four inactive boxers in the club – Chavez, Pep, Zarate, and Mayweather – are inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Rocky Marciano and Brian Nielson (49), Larry Holmes (48), Ricardo Lopez (47), Joe Calzaghe (46-0) and Jim Barry (45) all came close to 50-0 memberships. Lopez (51-0-1) fought a draw in his 48th pro fight with Rosendo Alvarez.
Ramirez is closing in on boxing history as he fights for his legacy. Five years after he retires, “Zurdo” should rightfully join the four Hall of Famers who are presently ahead of him on the 50-Club list.
BOXING’S 50-0 CLUB
- Julio “J.C. Cesar Chavez 87 (13 KOs) 1980-1993 Mexico
- Willie “Wil ‘o The Wisp” Pep 62 (23 KOs) 1940-1943 USA
- Wanheng Menayothin 54 (18 KOs) 2009-2019 Thailand
- Carlos “Canas” Zarate 52 (51 KOs) 1970-1978 Mexico
- Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. 50 (27 KOs) 1996-2017 USA
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