By Adam Baskin: Gilberto Ramirez weighed in at 191.6 lbs, and Joe Smith Jr. came in at 191.8 lbs during Friday’s weigh-in for their WBA cruiserweight title eliminator this Saturday, October 6th.
(Credit: Golden Boy / Cris Esqueda)
Ramirez-Smith Jr is a fight in which the loser could retire, as both guys are coming off career-crushing losses at light heavyweight, and neither would relish the idea of becoming gatekeepers in a division as dead & barren as the cruiserweight division.
Saturday’s Zurdo Ramirez vs. Joe Smith Jr. event will take place at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It’ll be shown on DAZN, beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET.
The former WBO super middleweight champion Ramirez (44-1, 30 KOs) looked embarrassingly bad in his last fight in November, losing to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol in a one-sided twelve round unanimous decision.
Ramirez looked like he didn’t belong in the ring with Bivol that night, as he lacked the hand & foot speed to make it competitive. Moreover, all the weight that the 32-year-old Golden Boy promoted Zurdo Ramirez put on after rehydrating overnight seemed to slow him down, making him sluggish.
Former WBO 175-lb champion Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) lost his last fight against Artur Beterbiev by a second round knockout last year in June. In hindsight, Smith probably shouldn’t have taken this contest because Beterbiev was on another level.
The 16 months that the 34-year-old Smith has been out of the ring could be a problem for him because this is not the type of fight that he can afford to be ring-rusty.
Ramirez vs. Smith Jr = crossroads fight
“Zurdo, they’ve been grooming him for a big fight. They saved that unbeaten record until Bivol, but they wanted to cash him out. You could tell they wanted to cash him out against Canelo, and that didn’t work,” said Sergio Mora to Chris Mannix’s podcast, talking about Sarturday’s crossroads fight between former world champions Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez & Joe Smith Jr. on DAZN.
“So, now they’re putting him in against big puncher [Joe Smith Jr.], and it’s ‘swim or go home.’ That’s what I love about GoldenBoy shows.
“I hate to say it, but they don’t protect their fighters because they pay them well and put them in big shows, but they put them in 50-50 matches. So, it’s great for fans.
“This is a 50-50 match in one of their own. So how can you not love that as a matchmaker? How can you not appreciate that as a fan? This is a 50-50 fight if you take out that Zurdo has only lost to Bivol; he’s this, he’s that.
“No, who is the natural bigger puncher? They’re both former world champions. Who is the natural better fighter? They’re kind of similar on that level. It’s an even fight,” said Mora.
“I love crossroads types of fights, a fight with meaning. It’s officially a WBA [cruiserweight] title eliminator, but whatever,” said Mannix on this Saturday’s Ramirez vs. Smith Jr. fight. “The winner will take a step forward and have a chance to become one of the bigger names at cruiserweight,” said Mora.
Zurdo-Smith loser could retire
“Right now, you have Jai Opetaia over in the UK or Australia, and he is mean,” Mora continued. “I don’t know if you watched any of the footage of his fight this last weekend. He is a mean fighter, and Badou Jack is out there as a cruiserweight champion.
“So, the winner of this fight is most likely to get a world title shot and the payday that comes with it. The loser is probably going to retire.
“I don’t think Joe Smith has the appetite to go back down to 175 to be a gatekeeper for any young light heavyweight that is coming up the rankings, and the same with Zurdo Ramirez.
“He can’t make 175 anymore, and is there really a market for gatekeepers at cruiserweight, which has kind of been a gatekeeper division for most of the time?
It is a win-or-go-home type of fight, which is why I think it’s a great fight on Saturday,” said Mannix.