Gilberto Ramirez rejuvenated his career Saturday night by beating Joe Smith Jr. in the former WBO super middleweight champion’s cruiserweight debut.
More comfortable at by far the highest weight of his career, Ramirez (45-1, 30 KOs) boxed effectively and moved more than usual on his way to unanimously out-pointing Smith (28-5, 22 KOs) in their 10-round fight at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Winning nine rounds apiece on the scorecards of judges Tim Cheatham, David Sutherland and Steve Weisfeld enabled Ramirez to move closer to a cruiserweight title shot because their fight was a WBA elimination match.
Ramirez entered the ring ranked seventh among the WBA’s contenders for its cruiserweight champion, Armenia’s Arsen Goulamirian (27-0, 18 KOs). The Mexican southpaw would welcome a shot at WBC cruiserweight champ Badou Jack (28-3-3, 17 KOs) as well.
“I mean, anyone. All the champions, that’s what I want,” Ramirez told a group of reporters after he defeated Smith. “I want to be the first Mexican cruiserweight champion. And that’s my goal. That’s what I’m working for.”
The 32-year-old Ramirez still hasn’t given up on securing the huge fight he has chased for years, either. To convince Canelo Alvarez to finally fight him, Ramirez realizes it would be helpful to win a cruiserweight title, so that Alvarez could challenge him to become a champion in a fifth weight class.
“Well, eventually, if he wants [to fight me], of course,” Ramirez said. “Two Mexicans in the ring, that’s a war. I mean, Marquez-Barrera, all of them. And it’s a great fight. All the fans, they wanna see two Mexicans in the ring all the time.”
Alvarez talked late in 2021 and early in 2022 about moving up to cruiserweight to challenge Ilunga Makabu (29-3, 25 KOs), but Jack knocked out the hard-hitting southpaw from South Africa in the 12th round of their February 26 bout in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Ramirez ended an 11-month layoff in his fight with Smith (28-5, 22 KOs), who he fought at a contracted catch weight of 193 pounds, seven below the cruiserweight maximum. The 6-foot-2 Ramirez’s highest weight for a professional bout before Saturday night was the light heavyweight limit of 175 pounds.
Ramirez hadn’t fought since last November 5, when WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-round fight at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
Ramirez was supposed to square off against Gabe Rosado on March 18 at Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California. Their light heavyweight fight was canceled March 17 because Ramirez was at least seven pounds over the contracted weight of 175 on the day they were supposed to weigh in.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.